Games: Tomb Raider Remastered bundle offers a triple-blast of pure 90s gaming nostalgia

A scene from Tomb Raider Remastered
Lara Croft is back for a 21st century refresh
Tomb Raider 1-3 Remastered (Multi, Aspyr)

THE year was 1996. Dolly the cloned sheep was running amok and the Orange Order made a one-way trip to Drumcree, but all that my generation cared about was an impossibly proportioned adventurer called Lara.

Swept along on a wave of Cool Britannia, Tomb Raider arrived just in time to ensure a blue WKD-stained PlayStation whirred noisily in every student bedsit. The pneumatic adventurer became a 90s icon, even gracing the cover of lads’ ‘bible’ FHM.

Nearly 100 million game sales and three movies later, the Tomb Raider franchise has been stretched tighter than its star’s T-shirt, but the latest goes back to where it all began with fancified versions of the original trilogy.

Released in ‘96, ‘97 and ‘98 (they didn’t hang around back then), the remastered collection includes all three OG games along with their expansions. And if you haven’t played PlayStation-era Tomb Raider in a while, you’re in for a shock – and I don’t mean its new warning that “The games in this collection contain offensive depictions of people and cultures.”

With surprisingly little combat or stealth and the emphasis firmly on puzzles and platforming, these are a far cry from Croft’s recent trilogy, and your enjoyment will depend on how much you enjoy pushing blocks and flicking switches.

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A scene from Tomb Raider Remastered
The new collection reminds us how much less complex games were in the 90s

They’re also rock-hard, though arguably more fun than this century’s po-faced efforts, with a wise-cracking heroine and lurches into pure fantasy.

While your middle-aged brain may not remember, there are some cracking set-pieces to be had, from the first wolf encounter to TR3′s Shiva statues coming to life, which still scares the bejesus out of me.

Best of all, you actually raid tombs – something the newer games seem to have forgotten.

Thankfully, the original tank controls have been given a modern analogue makeover, though some of Lara’s more acrobatic leaps remain tricky to pull off, and she still handles like a pig underwater. Other quality of life additions include a photo mode, achievements and health bars for boss battles so you can finally see if you’re inflicting any damage.

An ad for Tomb Raider 1-3 Remastered
Take a trip back to the 90s, with added modern gloss

The headline, however, is the visual overhaul, with our top-heavy Lucozade-flogger given a major glow-up. Higher resolutions and 60fps frame rates gloss over Tomb Raider’s mid-90s chunkiness, with new models and objects fleshing out its more barren environments.

Best of all, you can revert to the original tech with a single button press to party like it’s 1996.

Like many of my generation once dreamed of, the developers have poured their love into Miss Croft. At 25 quid for all three games plus their extras, there’s a lorra Lara for your buck in this timely celebration of the First Lady of gaming (take that, Ms Pac-Man). Lucozades all round.

A scene from Tomb Raider Remastered
Lara Croft in action