Entomb this sleepy raider

Tomb Raider: The Prophecy
Reviewed On
GameBoy Advance
Available For

At this point I could make loads of crass "Is that Lara Croft in your pocket or are you pleased to see me?" type gags, but I shall resist. Nevertheless, Lara Croft has clambered and grunted her way onto the small screen, courtesy of Ubi Soft. GBA owners everywhere can rejoice because they’ve got their very own Tomb Raider to slip into bags and the pockets of combat trousers – hoorah!

In true Tomb Raider fashion the story is based around some fabricated legend. Lara has an ancient text to decipher, which leads her from Switzerland to South East Asia and various exotic locations. We all know how it goes, so there’s no need for me to elaborate any further.

The Prophecy is a very successful translation of the original PlayStation format, to a pocket-sized Tomb Raider affair. Everything you would expect from one of Lara’s misadventures is present and correct. There are ravenous wolves leaping from every corner ready to take a chunk out of her slender legs. And of course no Tomb Raider would be complete without a myriad of switches and the collection of various totemic items to slot into holes and grooves, thus opening once impregnable doors.

Unfortunately, all the flaws that plagued the original console games are also present. We all know the ones I’m talking about. Switch a switch to open door, perform a miraculous leap of faith, and go through door only to discover another switch. Switch the new switch and low and behold, the door opens on other side of massive chasm featuring precipitous jumps. Take a deep breath and begin the jumps of doom, get to other side (hooray), scamper through door, get crushed by a rolling ball covered in metal spikes. Retry precipitous jump routine; take two hours to complete for the second time without falling to your death. Sound familiar?

Now this formula kind of worked on the big screen, despite the unforgiving nature of the game. Make one mistake and its back to the beginning you go. At least on PlayStation you were always marveling at awe-inspiring environments and gorgeous graphics with magical lighting effects and mood-enhancing music. On the GBA you really have nothing to marvel at to keep you coming back for more. Combine relentless retrying with to-ing and fro-ing between switches and doors and you’ve got the recipe for boredom and frustration.

At this point I would like to redress the balance by going into detail about the various set pieces I enjoyed. There’s only one small snag"there weren’t any. Sure I switched switches and recovered artifacts, but I wasn’t rewarded with any great revelations, just another open door, or maybe a skeleton soldier or some dark spirit or something to fight.

This is basically a diluted version of a Tomb Raider adventure, with all the good bits taken away. Reduced to its bare bones, Tomb Raider’s flaws just become intolerable and induce GBA fury. And another thing, it was just a bit easy and boring. Every time you switched a switch there was a jerky cut scene plotting your path from the switch to the door. So it was kind of like being led by the nose through a game, leaving you with no thinking to do.

Oh yeah, then there was a disappointing boss battle, which had me running round some statue, from some floating angel of death type thing shooting lightning at me. I’d collected so many medi packs that I was reasonably unperturbed and managed to rid myself of the ghoul with repeated shooting .

This is a game for die hard Lara fans only, who’ve played the console versions to death and need a new adventure to keep them going, irrespective of quality. It only gets 2 GiN gems from me purely because if this game was hooked up to a heart monitor it would be one big flat liner.

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