Review by TheRetroPlayer

Reviewed: 03/09/09 | Updated: 03/31/11

Is it my Japanese Sega Saturn? Or it just me? This version is just messed up.

I finally got the chance to play the Sega Saturn as of late, and I got this urge to play Tomb Raider for the this console. I heard that the only difference for this game was that the graphics where worst than the PSX/PC version. I looked at a few videos on youtube of the game, and it didn't seem so bad. I got the game, and once I played it for a bit, I was so longing to play the PSX again in a heartbeat. How on earth can this version of one of my all time favorite games get cut into so many pieces? I thought this game was originally built off this hardware in the first place? This review is for the NTSC version of the game since I see that the PAL version I think does not have framerate or sound problems?

Graphics 5/10

There were not lying when they said the graphics were worst. The visuals are so bad that you would think the other versions are king. I am by no means a graphics wore, and what kept me playing for awhile was the superb gameplay. The lighting is poor in some places and dark. Edios knew this, so they even have a gamma adjuster. Problem with the thing is that it makes things seem more unnatural so you stuck with whatever this game gives you. Lara's face looks messed up at times, and when you move around, its so damn blurry, and its hard to see from a distance because of how jittery the graphics are on the Saturn. The framerate even makes things worst, and that is something I'm going to get into in the moment.

I think I can be really fooling myself here since I am using a S-Video cable on a game as old as this, and its maybe bringing out the hidden visual flaws of this game. Well I can't do anything about it since composite video on my current TV looks horrible for some reason anyway.

Sound 5/10

What the hell happened here? Most of the sound effects have been tone down, and some are missing. For example the sound of how a door opened in the PSX version for example. It sounds like a gate is opening sometimes, and even the gate sound is toned down. I forgot to mention how there is no sound sometimes when you fall of a breakable platform or open something. Even the animals sound similar in some cases. The gorilla and tigers for example sound the same when they die. The music has a lower volume and that somewhat hurts my enjoyment a bit, and I refuse to turn the TV up just to hear it.

Controls 7/10

It takes time to get used to, but I like it. I kinda like it just as much as the PSX version I admit. There is not too much I want to say about it since its not a big deal or anything.

Gameplay 4/10

Very broken. The framerate gets so bad at times that you wonder if the Saturn is going to break trying to handle the huge atmosphere of this game. The water cistern is were I had to stop playing because the framerate was horrible. It even ruined my enjoyment of this game way too much to even go back . A good example of bad framerate is when Lara jumps. Its looks like the hardware is using a desperate frame skip trick you would see on console emulators or something. The level was barely playable due to the blurriness combined with the crappy framerate. A horrible mix. Not to mention when I died in that level due to the poor framerate making me fall off a platform, you hear a double scream from Lara but it was caused by the framerate again. So in other words, the framerate single handily ruined the game completely for me. It was like playing a high end game on a low end computer. That is not right and I should not see nonsense like that on a console again!

Overall 5/10

Yes this hardware is old by today's standards, but even for its time, the other versions of this game could handle it much better. Even back in 1996 if I played both versions first, then I would say the same thing about this version of this game. Its not like I'm spoiled or anything over this. I often wonder why people don't even mention anything about how choppy the game plays in the first place? If I knew that then, I would had never wasted my time with this version. I guess its those PAL players since I notice that its mostly them I see talking about the saturn version. Is it the fact that the Saturn is not a very good 3D console when it handles some ported 3D games in the first place? I don't know. Sad considering how this the PSX was a port vs. this as the original console. I really wonder if it the console after all, but why should it be?

Rating:   2.0 - Poor

Product Release: Tomb Raider (US, 10/31/96)

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