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The best Tomb Raiders are coming home and I cannot wait

Back to the Opera House!

Tomb Raider 2 - Outside Croft Manor on a cloudy day with Lara and her butler. Lara wears gym clothes.
Image credit: Core Design/Eidos

Although the specifics change, it seems like there's always a period in games that feels especially distant. And I mean distant in a wonderful way. The hardware may only be up in the attic or photographed and prepped for eBay, but the games themselves feel remote, bizarre, unprecedented and alien. No game looks as briskly abstract as G-Police at the moment. MDK looks like a game about insects, but insects covered in early Stealth aircraft armour.

It's the first PlayStation generation that feels weird and magically ancient right now, for me at least. I look at those games and I'm just fascinated. Games once looked like this? I remember it, of course, but it still feels like a beautiful fantasy. Games once looked this good? This odd? This gorgeous juddering phantasmagoria was once mainstream?

And chief amongst these games, again: for me at least, is Tomb Raider. The original Tomb Raiders, which for me means the first, second and third Core games. And happily, these are the games that are headed to current platforms next year. I discovered this yesterday during the Nintendo Direct and I whooped for happiness.

The trailer for the new collection.Watch on YouTube

Real talk: Tomb Raider 2 is just about my favourite game of all time. Well, it's certainly the most transporting. It sends me back in two ways, to two places. I'm back at the Opera House, the Oil Rig, the bottom of the ocean. But I'm also back in my very early 20s, just out of university and in that great, melancholic lost year that follows. Shared houses. Bedsits. Communal kitchens. Upstairs at a computer I recently used to write a dissertation on and which is now just about handling Tomb Raider 2, with all the setting set to low, so that Lara Croft looks both sun-burned and heavily contoured. Zany contrasts. Improbable limb joints. Valium slowdown whenever I do that iconic jump to the side. The flames in the last levels suggest not hell and damnation, but the big flickering segmented TV screen walls of something like Ghostwatch.

This is why I'm so glad that these games are coming back to platforms that currently sit under the TV. It's not a complicated thought. It's just a faff to get Tomb Raider 2 to run these days. This may be why they occupy such a massive space in my memory. The Steam ports are pretty bad, and I am not technical and get a headache thinking of how to get a SCART to turn into a HDMI.

So come February I'll have these special games back again. The Opera House, one of the greatest video game levels ever if you ask me, will emerge from the shadows of memory, so brilliantly weird looking. I'll plug it all in and babble to my daughter about the grid system, about how early Tomb Raider is kind of like Chess, and how you can do the special handstand when mantling. I'll still think back to my old shared house and that creaking hand-me-down Pentium or whatever it was, but now I'll be making a new layer of memory to bring to the whole thing. Can't wait.

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