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Review

Tomb Raider I-III Remastered (Switch) Review

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If you only owned a Nintendo machine in the nineties, it means you missed out on many big new franchises. So, my exposure to Tomb Raider was just through Lara Croft herself. She was everywhere, on the TV, in magazines, not even about gaming – she was a cultural phenomenon.

Eventually, I played them on the PC and through other re-releases and remakes we’ve had since then – but if you’ve never played them or only played Lara’s more recent adventures, you might be in for a shock.

These original three Tomb Raider games, which were all released just three years after each other, are as obtuse as games come. They dump you in the thick of it, there’s almost no help or pointers to tell you what to do, and you will die – many, many times. You’ll die for the stupidest reasons like you forgot to hold onto a ledge or a lion jumping you as you get out of the water. Despite this release being a remaster in the strongest sense possible, developers Aspyr have done a lot to the game to help bring in some modern-day standards and help out people who have never played the game and expect certain things from video games these days. The original releases don’t help you with anything – and if that’s how you want to play them, you still can. But for everyone else, let’s talk about what’s new.

The modern controls are the most significant new addition (aside from the graphics, we’ll get to that). Lara now moves around in a 3D space like you would expect any character to in a modern game. The problem is the rest of the game has stayed the same. There are still the precise movements required for platforming, and many tight spaces where tank controls mean the camera moves in the “right” way but now gets tripped up when you can move Lara on a point. After wrestling with the new controls for a while, I went back to the originals – and wrestled with them, too. But that’s just how it is. You’ll have a better time once you understand these games aren’t Uncharted.

The other big upgrade here is the game’s graphics, which can be switched between modern and original graphics on the fly. The game’s upgraded graphics have greatly respected the original source material and added weather effects, better lighting, and upgraded water textures. The game keeps the same geometry in both modes, so some textures look a bit odd, and sometimes the new lighting can be a bit dark, but the atmosphere improvements more than make up for it. Lara’s lips even move, and when she breathes in the cold, there’s steam coming out, too. Weather effects like snow and additional foliage cover some of the game’s polygonial shortcomings. When you change between the two graphics modes, everything changes: the menu, the UI, the loading screens – even the 90s FMV video goes from compression central to something resembling watchable.

There’s excellent news, too: this Switch port just runs and looks perfect. It’s full native resolution whether you’re playing on a handheld device or docked, and it’s 60fps in modern graphics mode. The original’s 30 FPS is held when playing with the original graphics. Other minor quality-of-life changes (which can be turned off) let you know when you can interact with an item or the environment, and you don’t have to line yourself up as much with the items as Lara can now walk to them. Anything considered a “boss fight” also has a health bar now; it’s good to know that sinking 300 bullets into something has an effect.

There are also things like subtitles in the game’s cutscenes, and you can save anywhere you like – but just remember to do it. There’s no autosaving, so don’t play three levels and die and then go back to the start of the game like this guy. One last thing, the photo mode is just great and really allows the new graphics to shine. You’ll see some the screenshots here using it.


Aspyr has done an excellent job bringing Tomb Raider I-III up to modern standards without breaking what made these games unique and challenging at the time. That said, even with the modern controls and updated graphics, these are still tough and unforgiving games that won’t suit everyone‚ÄĒan excellent relic of the past uncovered in the best way possible.

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Rating: 4/5

The Good

+ Respect for the source material, no matter how "of its time" it is
+ Graphical upgrades are top notch
+ Modern controls are welcome, but you'll be fighting with them
+ Three massive games, plus expansions, lots of value

The Bad

- The classic controls are still best, but aren't the best
- No autosave, if everything else is an option this should be too
- The new graphics are sometimes too dark
- Good god fix that home menu icon

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Aspyr has done an excellent job bringing Tomb Raider I-III up to modern standards without breaking what made these games unique and challenging at the time. That said, even with the modern controls and updated graphics, these are still tough and unforgiving games that won't suit everyone‚ÄĒan excellent relic of the past uncovered in the best way possible.

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About The Author
Daniel Vuckovic
The Owner and Creator of this fair website. I also do news, reviews, programming, art and social media here. It is named after me after all. Please understand.

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