It’s hard to believe that it’s been two years since I launched The Archaeology of Tomb Raider. It seemed like only yesterday that I posted the blog’s first article, a news item on the real-life search for Queen Himiko’s tomb, but here we are, some 260+ blog posts later. :)
I want to thank everyone who’s been following this blog and its related social media accounts for helping make The Archaeology of Tomb Raider the mini-success story it is. This fansite would be nothing without its readers and supporters. I’d thank you all personally but there’s a great many of you and I wouldn’t want to risk missing anyone. So hopefully you guys know who you are and know how grateful I am for your continued support (and hours of laughter) over the last 24 months. High fives all round!
To celebrate the 2nd anniversary of this blog, I asked you all to send me questions for a special anniversary Q&A (sadly, I don’t have any prizes to give away this time around). Many thanks to those of you who sent in questions. I’ll try to answer them as best as I can below. :)
So here goes…
Best Tomb Raider baddie? (Luke A)
I’ve always been a big fan of Natla. Like Lara, she’s a ruthless, cunning, and resourceful woman on a mission and she’s an Atlantean queen. What’s not to like? Having said that, I also thought TR 2013’s Dr Whitman was one heck of an evil b*****d. He may not have been a TR enemy in the traditional sense but his lack of concern for Lara’s and the others’ wellbeing, his arrogance, and ambition made him thoroughly unlikeable. I almost cheered when he got his comeuppance. Good riddance. :)
What’s your favourite Egyptian God? (@jamesd1615)
Tough one. If we’re talking about the chief gods, I’d say it’s a tie between Horus (I love falcons) and Thoth (knowledge is power), but my absolute favourite would probably be Sekhmet, the lioness-headed warrior goddess and solar deity who almost wiped out humanity during a murderous rampage. Please don’t read too much into this… ;-)
What led you to create a blog dedicated to Tomb Raider? (Alejandro)
Good question. I had toyed with the idea of running a fansite about the places featured in the Tomb Raider games just after the first TR film came out but I put the idea on hold due to a lack of free time (I was still at university at the time). Years later, I started an archaeology blog, The Amateur Archaeologist, aimed at those who had little or no academic background in the subject but I abandoned it after less than a year as I couldn’t strike the right balance between writing about my own area of interest (East Asian archaeology) and keeping things as general as possible.
I then started a blog, China Heritage Watch, specifically focussing on Chinese archaeology but found that I wasn’t able to reach a wide audience so I ended up ditching that blog as well (the articles are still online, if you’re interested). When Tomb Raider 2013 came out and I realized that the story was based on the search for Yamatai and Queen Himiko, both of which are hotly-contested topics in Japanese archaeology, I decided to start yet another blog, one that combined my passion for archaeology with my love for the Tomb Raider series. And so The Archaeology of Tomb Raider was born. The rest, as they say, is history. :)
What artifact/legend/area in TR did you personally find the most exciting/interesting considering your love for archaeology? (@LaraRobsGraves)
Believe it or not, I thought TR 2013 had an excellent story from an archaeological perspective as it drew from real-life archaeology and put a slightly supernatural spin on the myths surrounding Queen Himiko and her lost kingdom. I had learned about Himiko in a Japanese social history class at university over a decade ago and had translated a short article on Yamatai for the English-language website for the Chinese Academy of Social Science’s Institute of Archaeology, so I was quite excited when I heard that Lara’s search for Yamatai was the central theme of TR 2013 (sadly, the rest of the game didn’t live up to my expectations).
Lara Croft or Lara Croft’s assistant/sidekick… Which would you rather be? (@Pfangirl)
Lara Croft, naturally. Things don’t always go too well for her sidekicks (*cough* Alistair *cough*) and I’d be more than happy to have access to her bank account and real estate. And quad bike.
What are your thoughts on a Tomb Raider 2 Anniversary? (@jamesd1615)
I have mixed feelings about an anniversary remake of Tomb Raider 2. On the one hand, it’s my favourite TR game and I would love to explore a new-gen version of Venice, the Great Wall, and Barkhang Monastery. But, on the other hand, I worry that they would change too much of the story, cut out whole sections of a level, or simplify some of the harder puzzles…which is what happened with TR Anniversary. Personally, I’m happy as long as I’m able to keep on playing the original TR2 on my PC. I don’t really see an overwhelming need to remake the game.
Which story element of any TR games would you have liked to see continued? (@Lady_Scion)
Oddly enough, even though I didn’t fully enjoy TR 2013, I would love to see more scenes between Roth and Lara in future TR games. These would obviously have to be in the form of flashbacks but I hope Rise and any future TR games explore the relationship between the two, especially since Roth was one of the very few secondary characters I cared about. It’s clear that he played an important role in preparing Lara for her mission to Yamatai and I think this merits some more screentime in future games (or at least in the comics and/or spin-off novels).
What was the hardest boss for you to beat in any TR game? (@SassyGayJo)
Hmm, probably the Boaz creature in Angel of Darkness…because of the dodgy controls. The mutant Willard in TR3 was also tricky as I kept falling into the lava (whoops!) and the snake creature in Legend gave me a hard time. Not because it was hard to figure out how to defeat it but because the guns and grapple didn’t always cooperate. :-p
Which Lara design is your favourite? (from in-game and the FMV models) (Sebastian Z) and which Tomb Raider game has the best look for Lara (character model, face, default outfit etc)? (@paracroft)
I’d probably go with either Legend or Underworld. While I thought the latter was a bit glitchy and the former was too short, they had stunning graphics, awe-inspiring locations, memorable outfits, and Underworld probably had one of the most detailed and beautiful character models of the older gen games. For pure nostalgia, however, TR2 wins every time. The promo art was gorgeous and the wetsuit and Tibet outfits are still amongst my all-time favourite TR outfits.
Is there anywhere you’d love to see Lara raid that she hasn’t already been, and what mystery could be involved there? (@illucifer)
I don’t think there’s enough time or energy to write down all the places I’d love to see in a Tomb Raider game, hehe. But if I had to choose just one thing from my wishlist, it would be a quest to find Genghis Khan’s final resting place. Reboot Lara seems to be quite knowledgeable about East Asian history so I’d love to see her travel across China, Mongolia, and Central Asia in search of clues to the whereabouts of the legendary leader’s lost tomb.
How do you balance being a recognised Tomb Raider fan site against possible criticisms of Tomb Raider? (Ostercy)
Well, although I wasn’t a huge fan of the reboot and am skeptical about TR’s future, I try to avoid sounding too negative about the newer games on this blog and try to give the reboot franchise an equal amount of coverage as the older games. This is the only way I can cater to all fans of the series and make sure that there’s something for everyone (plus the newer games do focus on real-world archaeology a little more than their predecessors). I do find it a little tiring having to explain why I didn’t really enjoy the reboot or defending my beliefs that the older games were the best…but I guess that’s just the nature of the internet and social media. Each to their own. ;-)
Beans on toast or Jaffa cakes? (@Lady_Scion)
Beans on toast. No ifs or buts about it. This comfort food may have some, erm, “fragrant” side-effects but it’s absolutely delicious. Unlike Jaffa cakes (I’m more of a chocolate digestives gal).
Boobs, bae? (@DrJohnOakland)