The previous entry in this series, the case for Master Chief, was a controversial choice for many. This is because Master Chief, while undoubtedly a video game icon, is also a character owned by one of Nintendo’s primary rivals in the game console industry. In addition to this, he is a character that has never appeared on a Nintendo console. Cloud, as contentious as he may be, is at least representative of a franchise that has appeared quite frequently on Nintendo hardware. This time, Let us look for another character in the same vein as Cloud then. A character that is an icon, easily recognizable by gamers and non-gamers alike, who has appeared on Nintendo hardware previously and comes from a storied and successful franchise. We don’t have to look far to find such a character, actually, as Square-Enix has a perfect example of one in their IP stable. I am, of course, speaking of Tomb Raider’s Lara Croft.
Lara Croft, a daughter of British aristocracy, is many things. She is a brilliant archaeologist, a fearless explorer, and most importantly of all, a fierce survivor. Lara, the eponymous Tomb Raider, is not one to live out a pampered life of luxury. She was forged by adversity in her younger years and driven by a sense of adventure to do greater things. A terrific athlete and marksmen with an indomitable spirit, Lara has scoured every corner of the globe for treasure, often uncovering and putting a stop to world threatening conspiracies and other evil machinations.
Tomb Raider debuted on the PlayStation, Sega Saturn, and PC in 1996. The game was an immediate success, with many gaming outlets praising its graphics, story, gameplay, and of course Ms. Croft herself. The original game would go on to sell 7.5 million copies, and would spawn over a dozen games on an even greater number of platforms. The series has not remained dormant, either, as the Tomb Raider reboot in 2013 garnered critical praise as well as spawned a 2015 sequel in Rise of the Tomb Raider. Over all, the franchise is one of the best selling of all time, with over 45 million units sold.
The series has been known for its mixture of stealth, gunplay, puzzles, and platforming. It’s impact on pop-culture, however, might be larger than its impact on gaming. Tomb Raider, and subsequently Lara Croft, have appeared in almost every form of crossover media imaginable. Comic books, live action movies, an animated series, toys, statues, soundtracks, even theme park rides.
Lara Croft is emblematic of the 5th console generation. When people think of games of that era, and of the transition from 2D to 3D platformers and adventure games, Tomb Raider is one of the first that comes to mind. The series helped prove what third person shooters and platformers could be. The game therefore has quite a bit of history, and importance. Lara herself straddled a line between strong female heroine and sex symbol, and that line helped propel her into super stardom.
Reasons for inclusion:
If Smash Bros. is looking to become a comprehensive list of iconic characters, then Lara is almost a necessity. She is one of the most recognizable characters to originate in the 5th console generation (the generation that brought us the N64, Sega Saturn, and PS1) and unlike many of her contemporaries, her game series remains a top seller and a critical darling. Lara is also important as she is one of, if not the, biggest female lead in gaming. You would be hard pressed to find a list of female gaming icons that she is not on. Lara even received the award for most recognizable female in video games and most successful female video game heroine in the Guinness World Records 2010 Gamer’s Edition. Tomb Raider actually received 6 total records in that particular publication.
Tomb Raiders biggest impact, however, is on pop culture as a whole. Lara’s non-gaming appearances made her a household name in the way few gaming characters are. The two live action Tomb Raider movies (Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and Tomb Raider: Cradle of Life) were for a time the highest grossing video game movies of all time. As of now, Tomb Raider ranks as the third highest grossing video game to film franchise, but it could very well find itself on top again as there is a film reboot for the franchise in the works.
Lara has appeared on Nintendo hardware numerous time over the years. Tomb Raider games have appeared on the Gameboy Advance, DS, Gamecube, Gameboy Color, and Wii. This puts her in better standings than Cloud, who has not starred in a mainline game in his series on a Nintendo system.
Reasons for exclusion:
While it is true that Lara Croft is emblematic of the 5th console generation, there is one system that she unfortunately skipped out on at the time. This system was, of course, the N64. Tomb Raider is a series that made a name for itself on Sony platforms (although it should be mentioned that it was always a multi-platform release as even the first game launched on the Sega Saturn and PC), and its ties to Nintendo are tenuous at best. Similarly, the rebooted franchise has yet to find itself on Nintendo hardware. Still, if Cloud, a character much more associate with Sony than Lara, could find his way into Smash, then it should not be an insurmountable obstacle for everyone’s favorite Tomb Raider.
A bigger issue might be Lara’s use of firearms. Much like Master Chief and Snake, Lara is known for using realistic weapons. Classic Lara’s use of twin pistols is a fundamental part of the character. Rebooted Lara is known to use a bow and arrow, but she also a penchant for guns. It would be difficult, although not impossible, to represent Lara without guns by using the aforementioned bow and arrow along with a variety of tomb raiding and climbing equipment. It might stray a bit too far from the core of the character, though. Some might be on the fence concerning her sexuality as well, but the truth of the matter is that sexuality has never been an important part of Lara’s character, although it often has been a selling point of her design. Modern incarnations have been more modest in that regard, so it really wouldn’t be an issue.
Lastly Lara suffers from the Western game character stigma that is often mentioned in this series. Tomb Raider was made by Western developers, and characters from such games tend to not make it into Smash. The only character designed by a Western team to currently be in the game is actually Diddy Kong.
Overall, Lara makes a lot of sense as an addition. She has the legacy, the look, and the star power to fit right into Smash Bros. The bigger issue would be creating a moveset that would represent her well while still being both unique and Smash friendly. If this can be accomplished, however, she would be an extremely fitting addition.
What is Smash Bros. without music? Here are a few tracks you can look forward to if Lara Croft makes it in.