Square Enix has quietly launched a ported version of the original 1996 Tomb Raider on the iTunes app store — with support for third-party controllers.
Lara Croft may have had a significant overhaul this year, but many of us still hold a special place in our hearts for her rather more polygonal, braid-less (because it was too hard to animate in 1996) forebear.
Square Enix — which bought the IP in 2010 — isn't just sitting around making reboots. Rather than let the original property go to waste, it's quietly been launched on iTunes in Australia and New Zealand — for a very un-Square Enix-like AU$0.99.
It seems that the game's had a few mechanical tweaks — well, it would have had to, having been ported from code originally written for MS-DOS, PlayStation and Sega Saturn to a touchscreen-based interface — but, for all intents and purposes it's the same game, even down to the textures.
The touchscreen controls have been created in a fixed-button interface: D-Pad for movement, first-person camera toggle and walk/run toggle on the left; and action buttons such as shooting, strafing, jumping and flipping on the right. Unfortunately, they're not well implemented at all. While Square Enix might have been trying to retain some authenticity, it simply comes across as frustrating; there's a reason we now have 360-degree movement with a D-Pad instead of tapping left and right to turn and front to move.
The action buttons don't have the best layout, either — the strafe buttons are tiny, and having so many clutters up the screen. On the plus side, the game does have third-party mobile controller support; on the flipside of that, though, some buttons — such as the all-important context-sensitive action button, and the left-strafe button — hadn't been mapped to the Logitech G550 Powershell we tried the game on.
We're hoping, at this point, Square Enix plans to iron out these bugs. Porting beloved original PlayStation titles to mobile is an excellent use of the hardware, and it seems disrespectful of both the title and the fans when it's done poorly.
Tomb Raider for iOS (AU$0.99)