These Tombs, they won’t raid themselves.

I shouldn’t be doing any gaming at the moment. I have finals coming up in two weeks and the JLPT3 in 8 days.

Still… I have been packing on a lot of stress, and there’s only so much hitting the books you can repeat before it’s just not sinking in any longer.

So: About those tombs, eh?

Way back when I started my “I’m out of work! Guess I should play through my backlog!” project, one of the games I considered tackling was the Saturn version of Tomb Raider from 1996. I remembered quite liking it, but I’d gotten to a boss fight that I just couldn’t get the hang of and eventually gave up on after several attempts.

Anyway, I was thinking about picking it up again and giving it another shot, and then found out that they were releasing a Super Cool Revamped version for the PS2 and PCs. With the prospect of an graphical overhaul imminent, I put the Saturn game back on the shelf and waited.

It came out in …June? June, I think. And I bought the PC version because, well, after playing Legend on the 360, there was no way I was going to go back to PS2 jaggies.

If I’d waited a month longer, I would have found out about the 360 release as well, but they quite cunningly held back announcing that one. Anyway, it came out at 10 bucks more than the PC version, so I saved a little bit, right? (let’s ignore the new gamepad I bought for the PC largely in anticipation) I’m pretty sure it’s also come out for the PSP and is on its way for the Wii… I can’t decide whether playing Tomb Raider with a Wiimote would be really neat or really really lame.

Anyway! A mere 5 months later, I’m giving Tomb Raider Anniversary a spin, and it’s really quite nice. It addresses both of my minor complaints about Legend – there aren’t many human enemies, which bugged me about Legend, and you spend a lot more of your time in, well, tombs, and not so much of your time at dinner parties in Tokyo.

I’m sure that someone out there has made exhaustive lists of all the differences between the remake and the original. It’s been a decade since I played the original, so I’m not qualified to do that – I’ll just say that it certainly seems to have caught the spirit of the original as I remember it. I haven’t had as many scares this time, though – but, then, I really haven’t run into many crocodiles yet. The crocodiles in the original game were pretty much the first time I ever felt actual fear while playing a video game, there was just something about being in the water with one and completely unable to defend myself in any way that freaked me out.

As an aside, I will mention now that the diving snake colossus in “Shadow of the Colossus” also tweaked my fear level in ways I really can’t express – the sensation of your spine trying to crawl out of your back is one that I think you just have to feel for yourself. I also had some issues in Kedge Keep in Everquest… I think the long and the short of things is that underwater and me are a BAD FIT, but even with how much it tweaks my lizard-brain fear instincts, it’s actually kind of nice to have something in a game that gets under your skin that well.

Oh, and old T-rex intro: OH MY GOD AHHHH WHAT IS THAT THING BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG BANG IS IT DEAD YET?

New T-rex: Oh, hey, it’s a cutscene. Oops! need to move the joystick. Man, this boss fight is taking FOREVER.

I don’t know if it’s just because I was expecting it, but it was kind of a letdown. Probably the only part that’s been kind of “meh.”

Apart from that, excellent and recommended remake. I’m only to the “Egypt” level – and I am just going to say “God-damned bastard centaurs” and leave it at that, if you have played the game you know what I mean and if you ever pick up the game you will find out what I meant – so I think I’m about halfway through.

When I am not playing Tomb Raider at home, I have been picking up Brave Story : New Traveler for a few minutes of play time every now and again. I’m mostly trying to keep myself in touch with the story – I have lots of RPGs that won’t ever be played through because they got put aside for a couple of weeks and I forgot everything that was going on and didn’t want to start over.

I would like more RPGs to copy Brave Story’s combat system. It’s turn-based but it moves really quickly – there’s no sense of “oh, no, not ANOTHER random encounter”, at least not yet, and little things like mid-fight leveling and mana regen (that for once isn’t “You used mana potion! +50MP!”) are the kinds of things that make me kind of dread going back to more traditional “Welcome to the Sphere Grid!” style RPGs.

Here I will close a mention of Brave Story without mentioning how dang cute Yuno is.

Damn. Almost managed it.

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