The Case for Lara Croft

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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.

Too many bow users is going to be the next too many swords users.

Character Background:
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.

Tomb Raider: Evolution.

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.

Lara’s also a master of the nun-chuck, apparently

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.

There’s like… a lot of Tomb Raider merchandise. You can find an action figure for almost every version of Lara out there.

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:

Twin pistols are an iconic part of classic Lara, and it would be weird to see her without them.

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.

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  1. The biggest issue with Lara Croft is that she’s practically unknown in Japan. Given that third-party characters are supposed to be really big deals, would Sakurai entertain the idea of including a guest who isn’t well-known in his (and Smash Bros.’) native country? International appeal might be a deciding factor. To that end, I can’t think of any Western third-party characters who did well enough in Japan besides Crash Bandicoot and Banjo & Kazooie. Halo, Tomb Raider, Rayman, and Mortal Kombat flopped in Japan.

    1. While the series isn’t the phenomenon it is in the West in Japan, every main line Tomb Raider game has been localized for that market. I wouldn’t exactly call it unknown.

  2. Great job on the article!

    As admittedly unlikely as she may be, I’d welcome Lara with open arms. She’s probably one of the biggest third party icons that aren’t outright owned by a direct console competitor, as well as a truly household name. I think the guns might get in her way though, as pointed out. I mean yeah, there’s lots of different arrow types, or the climbing axe for that matter, that when combined with close quarters combat and acrobatics could prove for an interesting moveset, but man…the dual pistols are almost as iconic as she is.

    All in all, while I wouldn’t hold my breath, I’d enjoy the hell out of this.

  3. I don’t feel Lara fits well in Smash. Every 3rd party (and 1st and 2nd) character is either Cartoony, Fantasy, or Sci-Fi, Even the most out of place character, Snake, is still from a series that’s far from realistic.
    I also firmly believe Cloud is the last character being added that didn’t have thousands of people requesting him beforehand.

    1. Who’s to say Cloud DIDN’T have thousands of people requesting him? Sakurai’s wording sure made it seem like he was one of the ballot characters.

    2. Are you implying Tomb Raider as being realistic? Sure, they more recent ones are the most realistic take on the series, but like all the other third parties, she’d probably be given a lot of nods to her history- May I remind you how she was chased by a T-Rex, Searches for Magical objects and artifacts like Thor’s hammer and Alantean goods, She deals with supernatural beings, and how her rise to fame were due in part to some unrealistic caricatured proportions and clothing.

      The series is that same vein of campy adventurism that franchises like Indiana Jones occupies- They really aren’t that realistic, but the two newer titles from the Squeenix reboot try to humanize her and add more realism to the series believing it would help the player connect with the character more.

      Also according to some Japanese polls, Cloud made it in the top 20 Characters, who knows how close that is to the actual ballot though.

  4. To be honest here, as a same thing that I didn’t know Scorpion is now a main face of the Mortal Kombat series, I didn’t know Tomb Raider is owned by Square Enix…for now.

    I could agree more on her exclusion because of her main usage of real firearms. It may make sense if she uses archery as the replacement, but if you ask people of “what is her main weapon”, then I believe they’ll answer dual handguns for an instant. By the way, did she ever use explosives in the actual games? If she did, that will make it part of her move sets if she was in Smash. She’ll also may be more unique of using her wall climbing ability to avoid falling, except it work on damage effected walls like danger zones. But otherwise, I do think she’ll end up being a Snake clone if martial arts and explosives becomes her main attacks for Smash.

    It’s true Smash needs more female fighters, even if that’s a third party too, but obviously, I don’t know how she’s iconic to everybody in the modern era. Although she’s been in one of the most iconic characters according to the 2010 Guinness Records, just like Ryan commented above, she is in the same level of Rayman, Halo, Mortal Kombat, and any Indies games like Shantae and Shovel Knight. Although her games are released globally, she’s less mentioned in Japan more than the West. It’s just like other games like Puyo Puyo and Yo-kai Watch; although their game is sold globally, those games are popular in Japan than the West (however, Yo-kai Watch is really depending at this moment since there’s people comparing them with Pokemon). I think what characters being iconic means that character must be known globally than locally, and I think that’s how Sakurai is choosing characters as he tries to avoid any characters that’s not known to the world except Japan; having their trophies is the different situation though. Not to mention the now assist trophy Takamaru was planned to be playable during development, but debunked because he’s terribly unknown to the West.

    And for her sexual appearance…I don’t think that’ll be a problem anymore. If that really mattered, then Zero Suit Samus and (maybe) Wii Fit Trainer wouldn’t be in Smash in the very first place. However, for any characters from DoA, that’s the different story because of other reasons than that.

    1. There’s a difference between games like Tomb Raider and Halo versus games that were never released to all regions at the time like Takumaru/The Mysterious Murasame Castle, Shovel Knight, etc. Master Chief and Lara Croft are known somewhat over there in a similar fashion to Japanese centric game icons over here, if not more.

  5. Very well argued. The near-perfect gender parity among newcomers in the vanilla release of Sm4sh last year was striking, so it would be strange if none of the DLC characters were female. “If Cloud, then Croft” isn’t so farfetched in our situation of expecting both a new female character and another big name 3rd party rep.

  6. I don’t know a damn thing about Tomb Raider, but Lara Croft is legendary. Like, top ten game characters of all time legendary. It’s an honor to have anyone like that join the battle. You know, after accounting for logistics and whatever the perception in different regions is and the firearms and stuff.

  7. Sorry for going off-topic, but how can I upload my own Smash 4 DLC cases?
    Because there is a character I would like to see a Smash 4 DLC case on, but which Spazzy_D doesn’t to want to do, sadly.

      1. Okay, I guess “don’t want” was a strong word. Maybe “not caring” is a better fit?
        Because it could be possible that you simply don’t care for the character I would like to see the case on, judging from the fact that absolutely nobody voted for her on SourceGaming Choices #9:
        And that is Reimu Hakurei from Touhou Project, who, in my opinion, has about as much of an impact on the danmaku shooter genre like Ryu has an impact on the fighting game genre, making her Mrs. Danmaku Shooter, plus Touhou Project is as famous in Japan as half of Nintendo’s own characters, and Touhou is getting officially released in overseas, with a big and rabid fanbase waiting for that moment, so Reimu wont have the same problems like Takamaru and Ayumi Tachibana.
        Reimu is a bit like Japan’s Lara Croft in terms of international popularity, just to keep the posts somewhat on-topic, and if you have trouble with finding sources, I’m more than glad to help you, since I’m a Touhou fan myself.
        Anyway, I really hope I did not cause any troubles. Thanks in advance!

        1. Interesting choice! If you want to write a guest post, please do so and send it to We can’t guarantee we’ll use it, but we’re always looking for quality articles. If you’re wanting to do a “Case for” article, I suggest you use my temple of character background, reasons for inclusion, and reasons for exclusion. It’s a good way to ensure your article is focused and at least some what unbiased.

        2. As long as the post is balanced (offering why they are likely and why they aren’t likely), and sourced, then we will happily feature it as a guest post! We will give you full credit and even link to any social media accounts that you would like. You can email either (like Spazzy_D suggested) or Please make sure to read over the Guidelines for Guest Posting ( Feel free to ask any questions on Twitter, or in the comments of the Guidelines for Guest Posting at any time.

  8. This gets me wondering about the case for Kerrigan. Western developer, not a console game (though the original Starcraft did get an N64 release), but she’s certainly sci-fi, no realistic weapons. And I don’t know about Japan in particular, but Starcraft is obviously not only popular in the west! (It would also be interesting to have a series represented solely by a villain.)

    Cloud blew the field wide open, really; Master Chief is a substanial extrapolation beyond that, but not a huge one. But if Kerrigan were to be added, that would really be “anything goes”.

    1. I think Smashchu briefly brought up Kerrigan when we recorded our podcast today, nothing substantial, but it was on somebody’s mind at least!

  9. To me, the most interesting evasion of the realistic firearms weapon is Duck Hunt. The character uses more realistic sounds, still invokes the embodiment of an actual gun, and the shots themselves are in no way made to be cartoonish.

    I cannot see Lara Croft with a moveset derived from the pistols, nor can I see the pistols turned into lasers. Yet, if the bullets are not scene and the overall design based equally on her original conception as well as her modern day counterpart, I could see a Smash attack or two in which the pistols come out, but no bullets are seen.

    I’m sure everyone would be delighted to see Captain Toad face off against Lara, so let’s aim for the victory on this one.

  10. I don’t know much about Lara Croft, but I think it would be cool if somehow her alts were her previous blocky ps1 versions, lol.

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