Tomb Raider I-III Remastered Starring Lara Croft (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Athanasios 13.02.2024

Review for Tomb Raider I-III Remastered Starring Lara Croft on Nintendo Switch

Some still remember what an event the coming of Lara Croft was. The original, 1996 Tomb Raider was such a hit that it catapulted its star to a level of stardom few video game characters have achieved, with her cute face and curvy figure appearing everywhere, from magazine covers and ads, to toys, comics, and eventually movies. This enormous success is probably the reason why Eidos started releasing title after title in a bit of a hurry, leading to the publisher losing its most prized IP. Thankfully, the love for more Lara Croft adventures never really died, with the franchise getting two "resurrections;" the first back in 2006 with Tomb Raider: Legend and the fantastic Anniversary, and then one more with a brand new trilogy that acted as a reboot for the series. That's fine and all, but Tomb Raider I-III Remastered Lara Croft doesn't care about all those. This is a love letter to the past, with first three entries in the package getting a very nice, and much needed Botox injection.

What is Tomb Raider I-III Remastered? The quick answer is: a visual upgrade of the first three Tomb Raider titles. The one writing this considers the initial trilogy to be beautiful, but it's easy to accept that those early, super blocky (and pointy) 32-bit era 3D graphics haven't aged as well as the 16-bit 2D ones. Starting a new game shows an introductory cut-scene that has mostly be left intact, with the only upgrade being a widescreen resolution, and an AI upscaling that occasionally does more harm than good… but, hey, these are ancient, pre-rendered videos, whose original files have probably been lost forever. Thankfully, once the actual adventure begins, things get impressively better.

Screenshot for Tomb Raider I-III Remastered Starring Lara Croft on Nintendo Switch

Aspyr's approach to the whole thing is to improve the originals in a way that the end result looks like how you thought these looked back then, and that extends to everything: from the three separate titles screens to in-game graphics. This remaster is of that kind where one can go back and forth between the old and new visuals with the simple push of a button, and doing so will make many think to themselves "oh! It looked THAT way!" Updating ancient graphics and still retaining the look, feel, and overall atmosphere of a video game is a pretty hard thing to achieve, and Aspyr has done an excellent job here. From the various rock, brick, and metal textures, to the most intricate detail in the walls of an ancient temple, everything looks the way it is supposed to, but better!

This isn't just a case of adding high-res textures, adding polygons to models, and calling it a day. There's added detail almost everywhere you look, especially in maps that take place out in the open, as the added vegetation truly brings these locales to life. The lighting has been improved substantially, the sky is now an actual sky instead of a black void, and generally the makeup that has been applied here makes it hard to go back to the older style. Lara herself looks awesome too, which is pretty surprising since this is 2024, and '90s unapologetic sexiness has been forbidden in most planets. Just the fact that she hasn't lost… "weight" is worthy of an applause. She, like everything in here, has been remastered, yet still feels like the Lara of old.

Screenshot for Tomb Raider I-III Remastered Starring Lara Croft on Nintendo Switch

Apart from the audio-visual boost, there are a couple of additional mechanical bells and whistles. Some are neat but minor things, like subtitles for cut-scenes, the ability to map the button scheme the way you want, adjust the control sensitivity, and stuff like that. The most important addition of them all, however, is the option to swap between the default tank controls, and a modern system that feels like the one used in Tomb Raider: Legend, which smooths out movement, and makes it easier to handle the camera. The original pentalogy is played in a grid-like world, which is why the tank controls still are the right choice, yet the new ones work really well too; a perfect way to welcome newcomers to the titles that started it all, but without the "hassle" of tank controls. Finally, there's also a Photo Mode included, which lets one take some very nice shots, and even do so some exploring by flying around the map - especially helpful with some annoyingly mazy and tough stages.

Screenshot for Tomb Raider I-III Remastered Starring Lara Croft on Nintendo Switch

There are a couple of rough edges to talk about. Apart from a few weird tiling flaws that have remained unchanged, it's occasionally helpful to turn off the new visuals, as there are some areas where the old graphics are brighter and make it a bit easier to see what is what - especially in the much darker third instalment. The frame rate also acts kind of weird at times on the original graphics mode… or maybe it's just a matter of your eyes taking some time to adjust to difference in frame rates. To be frank, these are minor blemishes in an otherwise beautiful gem. There's an issue of a more practical nature, which is a spot (hopefully just one) where it's relatively easy to get stuck. This is a leftover from the PC version, and should be fixed for this collection.

Don't forget that this isn't a remaster of just one of Ms. Croft's globetrotting adventures but three, so there's plenty to admire here. Dark caves deep into the mountains of Peru, Greco/roman ruins, Egyptian trap-filled dungeons, volcanic islands, dense Jungles with rivers and waterfalls, industrial complexes, more dark caves, shipwrecks deep in the ocean, as well as some lands that are a bit more outlandish, leaning heavier into fantasy than reality. And even more dark caves. This bundles together three whole games, along with the extra levels that were released for the PC ports, so you are looking at about 80-100 hours of content - more if you take into account the many secrets that can be found… and the many inevitable deaths.

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Now it's time for a few words about the games themselves. First, Tomb Raider, the one that started it all. This Indiana Jones-inspired archaeology adventure introduced the peak human physique and force of British charm and sarcasm that is Lara Croft, who seems to be on the search for an artefact linked to the mythical Atlantis. It is the simplest in the way of visuals, yet at the same time the most striking and iconic in terms of design, but it's the gameplay that makes this stand out amongst the other two titles. Firstly, while quite the challenging ordeal, it gives the player more room to move, lets one see what's up ahead in order to plan Lara's moves, and is a - tiny - bit more forgiving with mistakes. It's also the most… Tomb Raider of them all, as it's more about exploring ancient mysteries, temple ruins, caverns, and dungeons, and getting engrossed to the magnificent atmosphere.

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Next is Tomb Raider II. In an attempt to offer something more bombastic, Lara's second adventure leans more towards the action part of 'action-adventure.' Throughout her search for a powerful dagger that's supposed to turn you into an almost invincible dragon, our curvy heroine won't deal with many puzzles, and instead engage in lots of shooting. Lots and lots of shooting. This is still about doing acrobatics in all sorts of colourful locales, trying to go from A to B and all that, but you won't really "travel to the past" like before, with many stages taking part a bit too close to civilization.

Despite its inevitable commercial success, Tomb Raider II actually marks the beginning of the series' decline, as it increases some of the flaws of the first game by tenfold, like levels that overstay their welcome, lots of backtracking, and many parts that depend solely on trial-and-error, rather than observing your surrounding before attempting to make a dangerous jump. It's still a pleasant ride, but you'll start to abuse the Save function way too often just to avoid doing this or that thing all over again, which is never a good omen in a video game.

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…And then there's Tomb Raider III: Adventures of Lara Croft; aka the one that this critic somehow managed to complete back in the day without losing his sanity. Yup, this will break you. Maps that are very tough to navigate; an overabundance of gaps that will lead to Lara's bone-cracking death; hard to see details that make it almost impossible to see where to go next; and, finally, tons of backtracking. Thankfully, this remastered edition uses the PC save system, which lets players record their progress on the spot, without the need of a consumable. Even by saving after every step, jump, and kill, the third entry unfortunately remains the most difficult and for all the wrong reasons. Again, there are some enjoyable parts, but they are hidden behind lots of pain.

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The only thing that could make this the perfect collection would be the inclusion of Tomb Raider: Chronicles, and Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation, to have the whole pentalogy of the PlayStation in one neat package. Maybe it was a matter of acquisition rights, a limited budget, or something else entirely, but it's a bit of a missed opportunity. Don't mistake this for a problem. This is fine as it is, and, truth be told, the ones mentioned are quite bad, with Chronicles being hated even by its developers, as they made this just to receive their paycheck.

In conclusion, what is Tomb Raider I-III Remastered? It's a very complete bundle of games from the distant '90s, remastered in such a fine way that it can be enjoyed by newcomers to the franchise's humble beginnings, and heavily appreciated by those who were there when Lara first came into the world of gaming. The content at hand is worthy of the price tag attached to it, even if the titles on offer aren't exactly without their issues. Too bad this is currently a digital only product, as there are no plans for a physical release - at least not yet. Finger's crossed…

Screenshot for Tomb Raider I-III Remastered Starring Lara Croft on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

Rated 9 out of 10

A gift to fans of Lara Croft's retro beginnings, Tomb Raider: I-III Remastered Starring Lara Croft is a masterfully beautified collection of the first three games, plus their extra chapters. It does what all remasters of super old-school classics should do, providing the whole experience, practically unchanged, but in a brand new coat of paint that offers quite the sight, without ruining the magic of the original. Whether most will like the titles included is a different matter altogether, because, while pretty good, they are far from flawless, but as far as upgrades go, this is one of the best of the bunch.






Action Adventure



C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   


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