At the time of writing this guide, there were twelve official games in the main series, thirteen mobile spin-offs and ports, and a total of three live cinematic adaptations in the Tomb Raider franchise.
If your introduction to the series was Rise and/or Shadow of the Tomb Raider, you may want to travel back in time to experience Lara Croft’s evolution.
To make this journey easier for you, we’ve recorded all the games in the Tomb Raider series in order of release (so far). Gaming is a time machine; all you need is a map to the right coordinates. Consider this guide your breadcrumb trail.
Tomb Raider Games in Order: Main Series
As you read through this guide, imagine Kate Bush’s “Woman’s Work” playing softly in the background. Lara Croft has been through a lot over the past 25 years.
To showcase this, we’ll start with the games in the main series and then go through all the spinoffs. Without further delay…
#1 Tomb Raider
- Supported Platforms: Sega Saturn, PlayStation 1, Windows, Game Boy Color, MS-DOS, Mac OS, N-Gage, iOS, Android
- Tomb Raider Initial Release Date: October 25, 1996
As with most initial entries, the first game in the Tomb Raider series was simply titled…Tomb Raider. It was a pioneer on so many fronts.
While it gets its props for being one of the first games to blend exploration, puzzle-solving, and action, it barely ever receives accolades for being one of the first 3D platformers – next to Jumping Flash and Crash Bandicoot.
On the surface, Tomb Raider is a very simple game. But it also has some very complex and deep gameplay mechanics. As Lara, you dodge traps, fend off human and animal enemies with your trusty pistols, and solve puzzles to get through each level.
Much of the game takes place in various caves and tombs. Unlike the later games, there was no real skybox. This was due to the limitations of the hardware at the time.
This is one of the many reasons why the original six-man team at Core Design deserves so much respect. Most of the world in Tomb Raider is grid-based and yet, it never feels constricted or monotonous.
By today’s standards, Lara’s movements may feel a little stiff but in 1996, her agility and athleticism gave players an unrivaled sense of freedom. A lot of fun was had watching Lara jump from camouflaged grid to grid with the mobility of a gymnast on performance-enhancing drugs.
Personally, one of our favorite things about the game is the main menu. Each option is an item you would find in Lara’s backpack. If you wanted to start a new game or access a save, you would have to select the passport.
The photograph would take you to Lara’s mansion, headphones would allow you to change the sound settings and sunglasses would allow you to explore levels you had already conquered. It’s a bit sad that games in the current generation chose not to preserve this theme.
Tomb Raider has arguably one of the greatest video-game soundtracks of all time. It’s hard to leave the game without the title song etched into your mind.
As a character, Lara Croft had a quiet confidence and nonchalantness to her. She was like a femme James Bond (without the misogyny). Even when things turned awry, she kept a cool head and it felt as if she was always in control. Which is a bit of a contrast to the latest games.
Lara and her dual pistols will remain as one of the most iconic characters of all time. And the original Tomb Raider is still considered to be one of the best single-player PC games of all time. While originally released in 1996, Tomb Raider would be ported to iOS in 2013 and Android in 2015.
#2 Tomb Raider II
- Supported Platforms: Sega Saturn, PlayStation 1, Windows, Mac OS, iOS, Android
- Tomb Raider II Initial Release Date: November 21, 1997
Building on the success of the first Tomb Raider, Core Design and Eidos wasted no time in releasing the sequel a year later. Tomb Raider II introduced many improvements.
These include new weapons, driveable vehicles, and new move sets. The graphics were also improved. There were more open-air environments.
Our favorite level was Venice. Who doesn’t like platforming from Italian building to Italian building and diving into Venetian canals to surface and control a speed boat? The sheer detail that went into constructing some of these levels still astound us.
Tomb Raider II also has a wider variety of enemy types. It pits you against more human enemies than the previous title. Furthermore, most of them are armed. Not to worry, in addition to Lara’s trusty handguns, you’ll have your pick of harpoon guns, shotguns, grenade launchers, and twin-Uzis (our favorite of the bunch).
As we’ve mentioned before, Lara has more move sets. You can trade between walking and running almost at will. If you thought Lara’s athleticism was impressive in the first game, then you’ll be blown away by her abilities in the second.
She can perform nearly impossible air rolls, climb vertically and shimmy horizontally on an edge. Mechanics that would later influence other adventure and platforming games such as the 3D versions of Prince of Persia and the Uncharted series.
The Croft Manor has also gone through an overhaul in this game. It gives you new areas to explore and of course, you can’t play these games without locking your butler Winston in the freezer.
Overall, this was a favorite in the series. It sits in a special place in our hearts. If you feel like the graphics are outdated, you can always play the Dagger of Xian demo remaster by Nicobass.
- Supported Platforms: PlayStation1, Windows, Mac OS
- Tomb Raider III Initial Release Date: November 20, 1998
The biggest complaint about the previous entries in the series was pixelated graphics. Tomb Raider III introduced smoother graphics with better textures as well as new lighting effects.
For anyone tired of Lara’s short-shorts and tank top, the game introduced new costumes. It never really made sense for a woman to run around in a dark cold tomb dressed the way Lara was.
Core Design once again delivered this installment just after a year they released Tomb Raider II. They used an upgraded version of the original engine. Just like the second game, Tomb Raider III takes you to a plethora of exotic locales. You’ll visit India, London, the Nevada desert, and the South Pacific.
Tomb Raider III tried to base its gameplay around puzzle solving, much like the first game. Although you do get the same weapons (and more) as the second game, it is not as action-packed.
This leaves Tomb Raider III a little imbalanced and uneven. It felt like a mismatch of the previous games.
Another reason for the game’s staleness is probably due to the franchise’s overexposure. Core Design failed to innovate in the same way they did with the previous entries.
The controls are much the same when compared to the previous games. This means gamers could transfer their experience. But even experienced players would struggle to get through the game because of its grueling difficulty.
Because of this, beating Tomb Raider III is a fulfilling and satisfying experience. While current-gen gamers have games like Dark Souls, we had Tomb Raider III to test our mettle as gamers. Despite its flaws, Core Design and Eidos were three-for-three with Tomb Raider III.
#4 Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation
- Supported Platforms: Dreamcast, PlayStation 1, Windows, Mac OS
- Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation Initial Release Date: November 19, 1999
Remember how we thought the world would in 2000 or how we thought all technology would crash. Once again, Eidos Interactive released Tomb Raider a year after the previous game, near the end of 1999 on the cusp of Winter and the New Year.
Speculations arose that this was the last game in the series, either because Core Design would just stop making Tomb Raider games or because the world would end soon. Thankfully, it was neither the former nor the latter.
The fact of the matter was that Tomb Raider was way too successful for Eidos Interactive or Core Design to give up on these games. The developers themselves were suffering from creative fatigue. They had spent nearly half a decade working on these games.
Despite this, they would finish the game and the Last Revelation was again a chart-topping success with over five million copies sold worldwide.
In The Last Revelation, players get a chance to learn more about Lara’s past. This time Lara must find an artifact to seal away the dark god Seth. To achieve this goal, Lara will have to solve puzzles, climb, and swing from ropes, crawl around corners or leap over large chasms.
It’s everything you’d expect from a Tomb Raider title. The only difference is that it’s far easier than the previous installment and Lara looks way better. Long gone were the days of a pixelated sharp angle-breasted Lara.
The thought that this would have been the last game in the series if the devs had it their way is frightening. Would Lara still be as iconic as she is today if the franchise died with this game?
#6 Tomb Raider Chronicles
- Supported Platforms: Dreamcast, PlayStation 1, Windows, Mac OS
- Tomb Raider Chronicles Initial Release Date: November 17, 2000
With Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation, Core Design had tried to kill Lara off. But it’s really hard to distance yourself from a popular cash cow like the Tomb Raider series. There is always more to squeeze out of the story (and out of gamers’ wallets).
Thanks to overwhelming corporate pressure and demand from fans, Core Design once again revived the character for another annual release. It only teased Lara’s return. Chronicles has you playing through Lara’s flashbacks.
It’s another chance to get to acquaint yourself with her history. The game uses a very interesting story-telling mechanic. After Lara’s funeral, many of her friends and acquaintances recount various stories about her exploits. Each of these stories or memories is a new level that players play through.
The biggest issue with Chronicles is that it felt cheap and unfinished. This was due to the very simple level designs, a story that wasn’t advancing the series forward and uneven pacing.
The game feels like Tomb Raider: The Greatest Hits. Some levels play out like a level from the first game while others go into the heavy action territory of the second title. You can tell at this point that the developers were dead bored of the character.
That’s why they gave us a level where you could play as a young Lara and a Matrix-inspired level that features Lara fully clad in black leather. The latter would be a precursor to what gamers could expect from the games in the future.
In all honesty, you can live without playing this game. However, if you’re going to play it, play it for the novelty. It’s completely inessential to the series.
#7 Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness
- Supported Platforms: Dreamcast, PlayStation 1, Windows, Mac OS
- Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness Initial Release Date: June 20, 2003
After a three-year hiatus, Eidos Interactive and Core Design finally released Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness. It was a marked departure from previous titles in the series. It was made to appeal to the more action-driven tastes of the early noughties’ gamer.
Core decided to ditch the control scheme of the previous five games in favor of a more limiting one. This was to make the game feel more realistic. It meant that Lara’s movements were a lot more limited and not as athletic or acrobatic.
The biggest issue with Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness is that it doesn’t feel like a Tomb Raider game. You barely raid any tombs and the game is a stealth action RPG. The environments are more in line with Shenmue than they are with the Tomb Raider games.
Although it sold over 2.5 million copies worldwide, Angel of Darkness was a critical failure and buggy mess upon release. It’s like EA had traveled back in time, took over Eidos Interactive, and released the game as a cheap crash gab to capitalize on the release of the Angela Jolie movies.
But at least the game was consistent with the movie in that they were both terrible. But at least the movie preserved the image of Lara. In The Angel of Darkness, gone were Lara’s dual pistols. No longer could you run and gun, while performing amazing acrobatic feats.
It played more like an over the shoulder third-person shooter. It even required you to reload. However, a feature that we found slightly redeeming was the introduction of melee attacks. Since Lara no longer had an endless pool of ammo to draw from, she needed a way to protect herself.
Players could now stun enemies via a string of kicks and punches. Hand-to-hand combat felt quite like what you would expect from earlier games in the GTA series (the third-person games).
The game also allowed players to initiate a stealth mode, where you could sneak around enemies to avoid combat.
This game was an opportunity to usher in a new age for the character and franchise. Sadly, it failed so miserably that it was Core Design’s last Tomb Raider game before the series was handed over to Eidos Interactive.
#8 Tomb Raider: Legend
- Supported Platforms: Microsoft Windows, Mac OS, PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, Xbox, Xbox 360, PlayStation Portable, Game Boy Advance, Nintendo DS, GameCube, Java ME
- Tomb Raider: Legend Initial Release Date: April 7, 2006
Now that the series was headed by Crystal Dynamics, were we about to see a return to form for the franchise? The short answer is ‘yes’.
Tomb Raider: Legend updated the game for 6th and 7th generation consoles. Unlike the Angel of Darkness, the developers seemed to understand what made gamers gravitate to the series so much – well at least partially.
Tomb Raider: Legend was more gung-ho and featured more gunplay. It was as if the developers took inspiration, not from the games, but the Angelina Jolie movies. This wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, as Crystal Dynamics alchemized that inspiration into something spectacular.
Core Design had tried to reinvigorate the series in the same way but failed dismally. Crystal Dynamics, on the other hand, tried not to alienate fans of the franchise while trying to entice new players.
Lara’s movements were a lot smoother and fluid. Her super-stripper like agility had returned. The game introduced a far more narrative-driven story experience. It was a soft reboot that saw Lara trying to track down her mother after she disappeared into an ancient portal.
Legends was only the beginning into what would become a trilogy of games. The biggest gripe we had with Tomb Raider: Legend is that the freedom of that was present in the first trilogy was missing here. You weren’t exploring tombs as much as you were being guided through them by the story.
We also found some of the combat underwhelming. You were facing off against more soldiers than you were animals or interesting creatures. The game also didn’t have a variety of enemy types.
Nevertheless, you can see the influence that Tomb Raider: Legends would have on games like Uncharted, and dare we say, Just Cause (mostly because of the grappling hook).
#9 Tomb Raider: Anniversary
- Supported Platforms: Microsoft Windows, Mac OS, PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PlayStation Portable, Wii
- Tomb Raider: Anniversary Initial Release Date: June 1, 2007
Tomb Raider: Anniversary was a smart release. It served as a sequel to Tomb Raider: Legend and a remake of the 1996 classic. If you were ever interested in learning more about the other characters in the first Tomb Raider then this was your chance.
The game utterly humanized Lara while fleshing out characters like Jacqueline Natla and Larson. You leave the game with a greater understanding of their motives.
These only just a few of the changes. The rest of the game stays faithful to the original. Areas and levels were rebuilt from the ground up. Anniversary also included new platforming segments to match the updated controls, as well as sprinkles, brand new surprise enemies.
Lara could shimmy up columns and balance on them, as well as use them to jump from point to point. You could also swing from a rope and run across the walls almost parkour style. This was an extension of the grappling abilities presented in Tomb Raider: Legend.
The music was also updated. New themes were added to enemy encounters. Background music was added to areas that were otherwise quiet in the original game. It’s safe to say that Troels Brun Folmann did an admirable job at remixing and updating the original score and soundtrack.
Nevertheless, the game understands that silence is still an important atmosphere building tool. The background music wasn’t constant like it was in Legend.
Furthermore, Anniversary’s pacing feels a lot more balanced than Legend’s. It’s not packed with unnecessary armed enemies. Combat does feel a little clunky for a 2007 game.
Anniversary isn’t perfect though. For some reason, Crystal Dynamics thought it would be a good idea to add quick time events and change some of the original boss battles.
Anniversary was the last true-blue Tomb Raider game in the series. What came after was good but it felt like a reaction to the competition that Uncharted now presented.
#10 Tomb Raider: Underworld
- Supported Platforms: Microsoft Windows, Mac OS, PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Wii, PlayStation Portable, Game Boy Advance, Nintendo DS, Java ME
- Tomb Raider: Legend Initial Release Date: April 18, 2008
With Tomb Raider: Underworld, it seemed that Crystal Dynamics would make some of the same decisions and mistakes that Core Design did with Tomb Raider III. They transferred some of the elements from Anniversary and mashed them with elements from Legend.
Tomb Raider: Legend was also packed with Easter eggs from the original games. For instance, it featured the doppelganger enemy from the first game, but this time as an actual enemy with a backstory (sort of).
Underworld is a direct continuation of Legends. This time players will get a chance to explore Norse mythology as Lara tries to enter Valhalla to rescue her lost mother.
Once again, the game was packed with over the top action with just a few flourishes from Anniversary. There was little to no independent exploration to be had in this game. However, the game did improve on enemy variety.
There were fewer armed human enemies and more threats posed by natural ones. You’ll face sharks, giant spiders, lizards, and even a mini-Kraken. Combat experienced some overhaul. For instance, you could now lock on more enemies than one if you were carrying two weapons.
Underworld was also very generous to gamers. You got the maximum amount of ammo for each weapon at the start of each level. The gameplay was also very linear – not as linear as Legend’s but still more linear than what we would like.
The game also introduced large awe-inspiring water levels. Speaking of the visuals, they were a step-up from the two previous titles. Not just how the environments looked and reacted, but Lara herself. Her movements were slightly more realistic and varied. For instance, Lara will push aside leaves or slip in wet areas.
At its heart, it’s still a Tomb Raider game. With improved textures, combat, visuals, etc. In addition to this, the quick-time events that made appearances in the previous games were nowhere to be found. Overall, it’s a great way to cap off the noughties trilogy of Tomb Raider games.
#11 Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light
- Supported Platforms: Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, BlackBerry Playbook, Google Chrome, iOS, Android
- Tomb Raider: Legend Initial Release Date: August 18, 2010
Technically, this is considered a spin-off but since it would be a while before the world would see another fully-fledged Tomb Raider game, we felt that Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light should receive the same attention as a main title.
Another reason as to why it can be considered the main entry is because it was released on home consoles before portable handheld consoles.
In 2009, Crystal Dynamics split off into two separate teams. One would be in charge of creating a more arcade-style Lara Croft adventure game while the other would build something entirely new to compete against The Uncharted series.
Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light would be that arcade Tomb Raider. It mixes elements of a top-down shooter with isometric puzzle solving. Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light would also be the first in the series to have a multiplayer mode.
Despite it not having a Tomb Raider in its name, Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light is considered to be the most faithful reimagining of the original titles besides Tomb Raider: Anniversary.
Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light features a lot of the same game mechanics you’d find in Tomb Raider: Underworld and Legend. In fact, it re-used a lot of the animations. This is still noticeable despite the top-down view.
The game has been lauded for its challenging puzzles, exploration, and combat. You’ll face off against various creatures and traps. The story and dialog aren’t much to write home about.
With the next games in the Tomb Raider series, Lara would forever be changed. This game could be considered a send-off for the original dual-pistol short-shorts wearing Lara Croft.
#12 Tomb Raider
- Supported Platforms: Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Mac OS X, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Linux, Stadia, Shield TV
- Tomb Raider: Legend Initial Release Date: March 5, 2013
We’re almost at the end of our list of the main Tomb Raider games in order. In 2013, Crystal Dynamix and Square Enix finally released their reboot of the series.
This would be a complete reimagining of the Tomb Raider series. One that added more realism but still kept in touch with the original roots of the game.
More focus would be placed on survival and storytelling. Tomb Raider would be an origin story. While on an expedition to find an artifact (as she’s known to do), a mysterious storm causes the ship she was journeying on to crash.
Lara finds herself alone and stranded on an island on the coast of Japan. She’s almost immediately kidnapped by the locals. What follows is a very brutal and mature sequence of events.
The game starts off being about survival and then it shifts into one about Lara saving her friends. This is important because it shows Lara’s growth as a character. She becomes a badass in front of your very eyes. By the end of the game, you’ll see her wielding her iconic dual pistols.
You thought Tomb Raider: Legend was humanizing, try witnessing and experiencing Lara’s very first kill. Camilla Luddington does an exceptional job of bringing Lara to life. Despite the game bagging so many awards, it’s a real surprise that she wasn’t nominated for her work on this game.
To align with the grittier and more realistic story, the gameplay and combat were also grounded. Long gone was the acrobatic run and gunning of previous titles. With this game, Crystal Dynamix managed to incorporate the stealth mechanics that Core Design sloppily tried to do with The Last Revelation and Chronicles.
Things had come full circle. Traversal and platforming matched Uncharted’s. The game also sported over-the-shoulder Resident Evil-style shooting mechanics.
While there aren’t a lot of tombs to raid in the game, it’s still an amazing reimagining and reboot of the series.
#13 Rise of The Tomb Raider
Supported Platforms: Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Xbox 360 Linux, Stadia
Rise of The Tomb Raider Initial Release Date: November 10, 2015
2013’s Tomb Raider introduced us to a Lara with a more realistic body. It finally felt like Lara was not being sexually exploited. With over 20 years of existence under its belt, the Tomb Raider had finally reached adulthood. It was only right that the series would mature, grow up, and finally act its age.
Rise of The Tomb Raider would take the baton from 2013’s release and stretch the theme of realism. The game was announced during a Microsoft E3 press conference. It was revealed that it would be an Xbox exclusive title.
This alienated both PC and PS4 gamers. This hurt initial sales and the game would eventually find its way on both platforms a year later.
Regardless of the politics and poor marketing choices of the publisher, Rise of The Tomb Raider was a critical success. It once again gave us a great story with impressive character development, tight gameplay mechanics, and awe-inspiring graphics.
Rise of the Tomb Raider takes place several years after the events of the 2013 prequel. This game finds Lara desperately trying to complete her father’s research. She must find a religious icon known as the Prophet.
For the first time, the series explores Abrahamic theology. Not directly, as it seems the lore here is inspired by Christianity. You’ll see Christian-like iconography and symbols but biblical names are avoided.
As Lara learns more about the divine source that grants immortality, she soon finds herself competing against a shadow corporation called Trinity.
Rise of The Tomb Raider will take her to a hidden city in Siberia where she encounters a secret society assigned to protect the divine source and its power.
Of course, some may feel that the story isn’t as strong as the 2013 game because it feels like a less intimate one. It’s a bit reminiscent of the late noughties reboots as Lara spends most of the game trying to learn about what happened to one of her parents. This time it’s her father.
Nevertheless, the game mechanics are much the same (from 2013’s Tomb Raider). With a lot of slight improvements. Stealth is much better along with stun and kill animations. Each mechanic now has more depth.
There’s also a larger and more spacious environment with more side quests and activities to complete. This encourages more exploration than before. Update systems and crafting have been expanded upon significantly.
But what was frustrating about Tomb Raider was despite Lara getting signature dual pistols at the end of 2013’s Tomb Raider, they never made an appearance in Rise. You’re forced to use a single handgun and Lara’s trusty bow for most of the game.
Since this was only the second game in the new series, we had hoped that everything would come together in the third and final installation.
#14 Shadow of The Tomb Raider
- Supported Platforms: Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Linux, Stadia
- Shadow of The Tomb Raider Initial Release Date: November 10, 2018
Last on our list of official Tomb Raider games in order, comes Shadow of The Tomb Raider. Just after the release of Rise of The Tomb Raider, it was announced that Shadow of The Tomb Raider would be the conclusion to the new series of origin stories for Lara Croft.
Unlike the two previous entries, Crystal Dynamics did not exclusively handle Shadow. Eidos Montreal did most of the work here. This left some gamers and industry experts a little anxious considering that Eidos Montreal previously only worked as a secondary support team.
In hindsight, did they do a good job?
The story continues from the ending of Rise of The Tomb Raider. This time Lara visits locations in Central and South America to secure an ancient relic before the shadow corporation Trinity can get a hold of it.
These events lead up to a triggering of a Mayan-like apocalypse that Lara is forced to try to stop. In this aspect, the story can be compared to Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation.
The game takes place in more jungle-based environments as a way to distinguish itself from the snowy locations of the last game and also as a way to introduce new features. For instance, more emphasis on this game was placed on stealth.
Leafy and grassy areas give Lara a chance to camouflage herself and allow for more stealthy attacks. One thing that’s been missing from the newer games is intricate puzzle designs. Shadow of The Tomb Raider introduces more puzzles that are a lot more involved.
Shadow of The Tomb Raider also pushed the visuals forward. Ray tracing was implemented to allow a new level of realistic lighting and shadowing effects. A feature that can be fully exploited with Nvidia’s line of RTX 2080 graphics cards.
Shadow of the Tomb Raider isn’t the best game in the series. Despite the amazing visuals and new game mechanics, the pacing can seem a bit uneven and some of the gameplay patchy in some areas. Despite its flaws, it’s still a satisfying conclusion to Lara’s new origin story.
Tomb Raider Games in Order: Spin-offs
There’s a reason players like to revisit older games in the Tomb Raider series. Dodging traps and platforming across short expanses and solving puzzles.
Since Lara is such a large and popular figure, it’s only right that she’s made available on as many devices and platforms as possible. In this section of the guide, we’ll briefly summarize some of the more popular spin-offs in the franchise.
Just as Lara Croft explores tombs and crypts to find the hidden treasure, we will be uncovering the Tomb Raider series’ best-hidden gems.
#1 Tomb Raider (Game Boy Color)
- Supported Platforms: Game Boy Color
- Tomb Raider GBC Initial Release Date: June 8, 2000
By 2000 Core Design was desperately exhausted by the Tomb Raider series. However, they’d find new inspiration through the Gameboy Advance.
The Game Boy Advance Color version of Tomb Raider was the first in the series to be released on handheld consoles. It was charming, to say the least.
Because of the GBC’s limited hardware, the developers couldn’t include 3D or 2D videos so they opted for comic book-like panels which looked a little grainy. They strangely don’t match with the in-game graphics.
The graphics in the game itself are surprisingly good (relatively speaking). The colors are bright and bold. Lara’s sprite is large and well animated. It’s quite obvious the animators spent a lot of time on it. Lara has Dead or Alive like boob physics. Core Design somehow managed to make Lara’s sprite 48 pixels high, which is still uncommon for games on the Game Boy Colour.
The controls are very old school Prince of Persia like. You’ll jump, climb, roll to navigate through its many tombs and traps. The biggest issue here is some of the movements do feel a little clunky and clumsy. You’ll spend a lot of time bumping into walls or trying to avoid running off a cliff and falling into a set of spikes.
It will take you a lot of time to master the controls in the game. Tomb Raider on the Game Boy Color has arguably one of the best stories in the series. Our guess is that this may be what contributed to the 79% score on Game Rankings.
#2 Tomb Raider: Curse of The Sword
- Supported Platforms: Game Boy Color
- Tomb Raider Curse of The Sword Initial Release Date: June 25, 2001
Tomb Raider Curse of The Sword is Core Designs’ second foray into developing a Tomb Raider game for the Game Boy Color. It was published and released by Activision within a year of the previous game.
It was a noticeable improvement from the first. Even the still image cutscenes were less grainy and more consistent. It seems the developers also learned from their mistakes from the previous entry.
Lara has less unnecessary animations. Which makes maneuvering her a lot easier. However, the controls still require a bit of patience and focus to master.
The game has one of the more inventive plots in the series. The objective of the game is to retrieve Lara’s soul after it’s stolen by a cult trying to resurrect an ancient evil magician. It has a slightly lower score from GameRankings but in our opinion, it was better.
#3 Tomb Raider: Prophecy
- Supported Platforms: Game Boy Advance
- Tomb Raider: Prophecy Initial Release Date: November 12, 2002
Tomb Raider: Prophecy would be the first in the series to utilize an isometric camera angle. It would go on to inspire future games in the series such as Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris and Lara Croft Go.
The isometric view works surprisingly well for the Game Boy Advance. It’s far better looking than the previous side-scrolling iterations of the series. It was developed by UbiSoft Milan and published by UbiSoft.
The game is heavily action-oriented. The animations are a bit clunky and the graphics feel like a throwback to the original Blood Omen.
Nevertheless, the platforming in the game is one of its highest points (no pun intended). It’s fun watching Lara shimmy across cliff edges and climb up ladders with the swiftness of a PCP junkie looking for his next fix.
It’s a bit strange to us that Tomb Raider: The Prophecy was the only spinoff to be released on the Game Boy Advance. It had so much potential. It’s arguably one of the best early 2000s Tomb Raider games.
#4 Tomb Raider Java ME Trilogy
- Supported Platforms: Java ME
- Tomb Raider Java ME Trilogy Initial Release Date: June 25, 2001
The Tomb Raider Java ME Trilogy (as we’ve dubbed it) consists of three games; Tomb Raider: The Osiris Codex, Tomb Raider: Quest for Cinnabar, and Tomb Raider: Elixir of Life.
Each of the games was developed by IOMO and published by Eidos Interactive. They take inspiration from Core Design’s Gameboy Color releases.
Although, the controls are a lot tighter and the games are more puzzle orientated. This is in part due to a smaller sprite with fewer animations. You won’t find any giggly boob physics here.
These games have always felt like side-scrolling promotions or tie-ins for Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness. Thankfully, they’re much more enjoyable than that game.
#5 Tomb Raider: Puzzle Paradox
- Supported Platforms: J2ME
- Tomb Raider: Puzzle Paradox Initial Release Date: July 1, 2006
If you liked the Tomb Raider series exclusively for its puzzles, then you’ll enjoy Tomb Raider Puzzle Paradox. It was developed by IOMO and published by Eidos Interactive.
It’s purely a top-down puzzle game. It’s one of the few games in the Franchise where players won’t see Lara running around in her signature short-shorts and tank top. There’s no shooting, looting, exploration, or platforming.
The game was made to capitalize on casual gaming (you filthy casuals). It consists of three different puzzle modes; Trapped, Illumination, and The Vault.
Trapped requires you to carefully connect colored tiles, Illumination requires you to shine complete puzzles by using prisms and/or mirrors to reflect light and the objective of The Vault is to break out of the eponymous vault by matching a set of runes and symbols.
Purists should skip over this game. Completionists and fans will want to play it for the novelty.
#6 Tomb Raider: The Action Adventure
- Supported Platforms: DVD Player
- Tomb Raider: The Action Adventure Initial Release Date: November 21, 2006
Tomb Raider: The Action Adventure is a compact and simplified version of Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness. Tomb Raider: The Action Adventure is one of the strangest releases on this list. Yes, it might be innovative in concept but we feel as if the developers could have chosen a better game in the series to adapt.
It’s less a game and more an interactive choose your own ending animated movie (but that’s what video games are anyway). It uses footage captured from the PC version with a few new scenes sprinkled in.
It was originally released and marketed to non-gamers and newcomers to the Tomb Raider series. As the story progresses, each new scene requires you to make an RPG-like decision to decide what Lara does next.
You’re greeted with a maximum of five options and each one can be chosen from the directional pad on your DVD’s remote. Tomb Raider: The Action Adventure is also playable from PC media-players like VLC, Windows Media Player and PowerDVD.
Personally, we’d skip over this entry. It was exciting for its time but it’s just a downgraded version of Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness.
#7 Lara Croft: Reflections
- Supported Platforms: iOS
- Lara Croft: Reflections Initial Release Date: December 20, 2013
After Square Enix decided to create a new branch of Tomb Raider games using the Lara Croft name, there were possibilities for more spinoffs (and cash grabs). It had been years since a casual non-Tomb Raider game was created.
Lara Croft: Reflections was made to capitalize on the popularity of free-to-play card games. It was developed by Square Enix Japan and RenRen Games, exclusively for iOS devices.
It features quests, card battles, artifacts, and live boss battle events. In our view, it’s another non-essential detour in the Tomb Raider franchise.
#8 Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris
- Supported Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Windows
- Lara Croft: Temple of Osiris Initial Release Date: December 9, 2014
Lara Croft: Temple of Osiris is a sequel to Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light. This time more emphasis is placed on the multiplayer aspect of the game. Again it’s an arcade game played from a fixed isometric camera angle.
It allows up to four different players at a time. Gamers can play as either Lara Croft, Carter Bell, Isis or Horus. As with the prequel, a lot of emphasis was placed on non-linear action, platforming, and puzzle-solving.
What we appreciate the most about these spinoffs is how they preserve the original memory of Lara Croft. While the main series has made her more human and realistic, games like Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris have maintained her larger-than-life personality.
#9 Lara Croft: Relic Run
- Supported Platforms: Android, iOS, Windows Phone 8
- Lara Croft: Relic Run Initial Release Date: May 28, 2015
Once again, The Lara Croft series of spin-offs gave us another title that was very true to form. This game was a mobile-exclusive developed Simultronics and published by Square Enix.
Fans of the Temple of Osiris and Guardian of Light should not skip over this one. Lara must locate Carter Bell after the events of the Temple of Osiris. On her journey, she’ll uncover a great conspiracy. It’s your classic Tomb Raider premise.
The game is an endless runner and platforming game. You’ll need to use Lara’s agility to parkour around and over obstacles, Prince of Persia style. You can also fire at enemies by tapping on your screen. Each level also has a vehicle section where you can ride motorcycles and quad bikes.
There are also boss fights where you’ll have to fight dinosaurs. This is quite reminiscent of Tomb Raider: Anniversary. Lara Croft: Relic Run is a mobile exclusive and it looks substantially better (graphically) than the 1996 original. Technology has come a long way.
#10 Lara Croft Go
- Supported Platforms: Android, iOS, Windows Phone 8, Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, macOS, Linux
- Lara Croft GO Release Date: August 27, 2015
Just a few months after the release of Lara Croft: Relic Run, Square Enix dropped Lara Croft Go for all mobile devices. The game went on to win numerous awards including IGN’s Mobile Game of the Year Award 2015, Game of the Year from Apple’s Best of 2015, Apple’s 2016 Design Award for the best game, and Best Mobile Game at the 2015 Game Awards.
The game was built using the Unity engine. It’s played almost entirely from an isometric view and features cel-shaded graphics. What we appreciated most about this Lara Croft Go is how it brings back the dial-like menu screen from the original games.
Most of the game involves platforming and puzzle-solving. We really enjoyed the animations. Lara’s movements are swift, responsive, and fluid. We even appreciated the droney soundtrack.
Never has a game in the series felt like a Tomb Raider game and not a Tomb Raider game at the same time as Lara Croft Go does. Nevertheless, if you’re a fan of Guardian of Light, you’ll find that this is an essential play.
This concludes our journey through Lara Croft’s history. There are certain titles we did not include in the above list – like Lara Croft’s Poker Party for instance. While they may technically be Lara Croft flavored or inspired, they’re not really Tomb Raider games.
Looking through her nearly three-decade history, you have to be thankful to studios like Square Enix and Eidos for not only evolving the character but keeping her spirit alive in the spinoffs too.
In the above guide, we documented and explored all Tomb Raider Games in Order, including titles in the main series and spinoff. Did we miss any? Which one is your favorite? Don’t hesitate to leave a comment down below. As always, thank you for reading.