Tomb Raider: Hell's Fury - Thoughts on a Lara Croft/Carmen Sandiego Crossover

"What happens when two women want the same thing?"

Kotaku had a competition involving making a cover for an imaginary Tomb Raider game. This gave me an opportunity to think about an idea which I've had for some time: a crossover game starring Lara Croft and Carmen Sandiego.

Why would this game work? Let me share my reasons.

Mainstream Appeal - When it comes to video game characters that have crossed over into the mainstream, Lara Croft and Carmen Sandiego are up there with Mario and Pac-Man. Tomb Raider has the very public face of Angelina Jolie and two successful films, and Carmen Sandiego had a children's TV game show that ran for 5 seasons.

Successful Franchises - The original Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? is the mother of all edutainment games, having debuted in 1985, spawning sequels and spin-offs ever since. Tomb Raider and its sequels were key titles for the PlayStation and PS2, with the latest in the series having just been released (Tomb Raider Underworld, 2008).

CARMEN: "Me? A petty thief? And I suppose tomb raiding is a respectable line of work? Perhaps 'grave robber' is a more accurate description... and that means you are the same as me, my dear little thief."

Story and Character Dynamics - If we treat Carmen Sandiego not as a cartoon villian but as a criminal mastermind, we have a strong counterpoint to Lara Croft. You have the simple good guy bad guy angle, the older woman / younger woman clash, and the argument of what Lara does (as a "tomb raider") versus what Carmen does (as a "thief"). When approached with a serious and dark tone, both of these characters offer plenty of dramatic conflict.

Complimentary Game Styles - Designer Bruce Shelley said once that he believes that the only reason that kids nowadays know what a "trebuchet" is, is because of Age of Empires. While Carmen Sandiego games are first and foremost educational titles, and a stark difference to the action/adventure of Tomb Raider, the bringing of educational elements into the standard Tomb Raider experience need not be heavy-handed. Treating "education" in the context of a puzzle (which Tomb Raider has many of) would bring enough of Carmen to Tomb Raider.

"Famed archaeologist Lara Croft is asked to retrieve the ancient Hell's Fury Mirror from the depths of the Amazon jungle by a mysterious benefactor - infamous master criminal Carmen Sandiego. Lara is tricked into doing Carmen's dirty work and then betrayed. Can she find Carmen and reclaim the Mirror before it is lost forever?"

And for the nitty-gritty, it's a Tomb Raider game, so there's jumping and shooting in third-person. You probably shouldn't play as Carmen, or if you do, only for a level or two. Plus there's yet another chance for Eidos to get another Lara Croft model, and the world is dying for some real-life Carmen action too.

So what do you think?

PS. It turns out that Carmen Sandiego is now owned by The Learning Company, but their logo is kinda crap, so I didn't bother updating the mock cover.

An Apology to insani

insani contacted me recently about Fate/stay night Trial Edition (Abridged for DS). They are unhappy with the way that I used their English translation, specifically in regards to the editing that I did. The editing was done for purely technical reasons (in that I could not fit the entire translation onto the DS and thus had to cut some of it out). These edits were in no way a criticism of the quality of the translation and I am sorry for any offense caused.

I have removed the download links to the game, and I ask that any third-party sites that have the game to remove it as well.

Once again, apologies to insani.

UPDATE 2008/12/08 - For those of you still looking for Fate/stay night on DS, please try out VNDS which uses Mirror Moon's English translation of the full game.

Powered by Blogger