My next post brings me to the Christmas of 1998, this was a busy gaming year for me. It started around my birthday (May 30th – presents are encouraged) and the release of Gran Turismo.
Everyone in my school year was playing it and the conversation was all about it, every lunch, break and bus ride home was 100% dominated with talk of the “greatest racing game ever”. I needed it in my life and needless to say it made it onto my birthday list.
In fact, it was my birthday list.
I eagerly awaited my birthday and on the morning my mum gave me an; unmistakably Playstation game shaped gift. I knew what it was…
…it was Tomb Raider 1. The game I had asked for at Christmas. I was a little disappointed if I’m honest, but I really wanted to play Tomb Raider, so I ran upstairs and fired it into the Playstation. And it was glorious. I played it everyday until Christmas, eventually getting completely stuck on the Cistern level. I never did see the end of Tomb Raider 1.
But what the hell has this got to do with Christmas?
Well, funnily enough in my huge pile of presents I got that year there were three distinctly Playstation game shaped presents. I eagerly ripped them open, Tomb Raider 2, Tomb Raider 3 and Tekken 3. It was gaming heaven. However in this post I will be focusing on the Tomb Raider games, maybe I’ll get round to Tekken in a later post.
I ran with the games under my arm straight to my bedroom and eagerly ripped open the cellophane to Tomb Raider 2 and put that into the Playstation. The first thing that struck me was the improved graphics; Tomb Raider was never ugly but this one really cleaned up the architecture of the levels and Lara now had a moving pony tail! The first few hours of the game were riveting – and set up the globe-trotting nature of the game superbly well. The opening level on the Great Wall of China was amazing and felt like a more polished version of the original. The Venice levels were also great, this game was transitioning you from old style Tomb Raider to a much more action orientated evolution. It was spectacular.
Before I knew it Dad was calling me down for dinner, I couldn’t believe that I had been playing Tomb Raider 2 for 6 hours – the game was a roller-coaster of action and exploration. I was enjoying every second of it and I needed to see what the game would throw at me next! After dinner and dessert I ran back up to finish the adventure, which was rather difficult, I got to a level based on a sunken ship and got horrendously stuck. I struggled around for an hour and decided to come back to the game tomorrow. Time to see Tomb Raider 3…
…bloody hell it was fucking difficult! The game opened with a slide down into a jungle, I must’ve died 20 times getting into that basin. Difficult part over with though right? WRONG! I had no idea what was required next so I spent an hour driving about on the quad bike avoiding monkeys. Not exactly the start I wanted to get with Tomb Raider 3.
With it being Christmas my tomb raiding adventures came to a very abrupt end. I was incredibly disheartened. In the back of my mind though I knew that there was a magazine out that month that had the first part of a TR3 walk-through. On boxing day the local garage would open and I could buy and continue my quest for the Infada stone.
The rest of Christmas was spent playing board games with Mum, Dad and my brothers and sisters. All the while I was thinking about the puzzles I was stuck with in the two games. Dad even asked me how I was getting on with them – I told him I was stuck in both games and he said he’d take a look at them and see if he could figure it out. We decided that it was a bit late to be playing the game now and we’d try to progress on boxing day morning.
Needless to say it was an absolute disaster. Dad is no gamer and watching him fumble with the controller while Lara was jumping on the spot was absolutely hilarious. After maybe 10 minutes he gave me the controller and said he’d watch me play and help me that way. It was here that I was walking around the level when he gave me a golden piece of advice; “crawl under there” he said as I walked past a fallen tree. I looked at him and said you can’t crawl in Tomb Raider; that’s when he showed me the manual, “you hold the L2 button to crawl”.
Jesus I had no idea; and he was bloody right!
There was tunnel and we made some progress before getting stuck again. We decided that this was a bloody difficult game and we would need some help getting past this first level! I ran to the shop and bought the magazine with the walk-through. As luck would have it there was a TR2 walk-through magazine with it; me and Dad played through the rest of TR2 that day – even Sherry watched us for a while, although he disliked Tomb Raider.
By the end of Boxing Day Tomb Raider was finished. Just in time for us to go downstairs and watch The Naked Gun 2 1/2 (a movie I watch every Christmas). Although I was happy to see the entire game, there was a wave of sadness about the whole thing, I felt that I had completed it far too quickly and wanted to start the game again. It would have to wait until I beat the third, then I could play through the whole series again (I eventually beat TR2 3 times the next year).
The day after boxing day me and Sherry went to our older brothers house for a few days which meant my Tomb Raider 3 had to wait until I returned. I did bring Tekken 3 though.
When we got back home I slowly but surely made my way through the Tomb Raider 3 walk-through and had to wait for the next part of it to continue my quest – I eventually beat it by the end of February.
Christmas 1998 will forever go down as the Christmas dominated by Lara Croft. I played more Tomb Raider over the holiday period than I did before or after. It was a brilliant game for the occasion. Over the years Mum and Dad would buy me a Tomb Raider game; in fact the next Christmas had The Last Revelation. I even played the remake of the original over the holidays while I was at uni.
It’s become synonymous with the holidays for me, every Christmas and get a real notion to play Tomb Raider – and have found myself substituting it for other action adventure games.
I think it was Tomb Raider that gave me the idea for always having a “Holiday Game” (a game I only play during the Christmas break) – I still do this, nearly 20 years later. Talk about a legacy.
Do you have a holiday game? If so, what is it?
Have you ever lost yourself in a game over Christmas and complete it too quickly?
Tell me in the comments!