Switchblade 2 is side-scrolling action title originally developed by Core Design and published by Gremlin Interactive for Amiga in 1991. A Famicom / NES port of the game, created by Kemco, was slated for release in november 1992. The player controlled a soldier, nicknamed “Switchblade”, who had to save planet F-S5 from an alien invasion. As in similar action titles, he was able to double jump, use blades, guns, and collect power-ups for the latter. More weapons and upgrades could also be bought in the store.
It’s unknown why Kemco never released their version of Switchblade 2 or if it had any major difference compared to the original Amiga version, graphics aside.
Fractal Racer is a cancelled racing game planned for the Sega 32X. English developer Core Design became famous with the worldwide success of Tomb Raider. However just before Laura Croft debut they had a brief period of strong support for Sega ill-fated add-on Mega CD and 32X. Fractal Racer was another game supposed to enrich Sega “32 bit” add-on library. This racing game though never saw the light of the day for unknown reasons but 32X (lack of) success could have been a likely culprit.
Thanks a lot to Rod_Wod that found a brief article about the game with a couple of target renders that you can watch below.
If you have more information or media please let us know !
Overview: After Tomb Raider 2, Core Design released another Tomb Raider sequel in November 1998 for PC and the PlayStation. Based on the upgraded Tomb Raider 2 Engine, Tomb Raider 3 features new vehicles such as the: Kayak and Quad bike. These new vehicles enable players to experience a new challenge from navigating down the rapids of Madubu Gorge to driving quad bikes in the Nevada Desert. In comparison to the older Tomb Raider games, the game play mechanics became more dynamic and the engine supported more triangular room polygons plus coloured lighting. Tomb Raider 3 appeared at E3 May 1998 and ECTS August 1998. The game features locations such as: India, South Pacific, Nevada, London.
An interview with Andy Sandham, former level designer for Tomb Raider 3, was posted on Tomb of Ash with some interesting info:
I believe the optional routes were taken out due to time pressure – as our first Tomb Raider game as a team, we were really up against it, learning new tech, etc., so I believe we held out on the ‘hub’ system until tomb raider 4 to prevent ourselves from having nervous breakdowns!
I remember that Heather, level designer and artist on Tomb 2 had built most of Angkor Watt – but that team were offered their own project (project Eden?) and so jumped at the chance, leaving us with a ¾ complete level that was handed over to Jamie Morton.
There is evidence that Core Design had planned a section of levels set in Peru. There is no clear evidence as to whether these levels were actually created or if the area name was originally intended for another location, later renamed for the final release. Some of the level names changed during development for example (Final level names in bold):
Jungle Ruins -Jungle
Temple Of Shiva -Temple Ruins
This screenshot was taken from an unfinished beta copy of the game, it shows clear evidence of Peru’s previous existence. During a magazine interview, Core Design explained that the first level in Tomb Raider 3 would provide insight into the game’s story. Then players would be able to choose the start of their adventure set in 4 different locations: India, London, South Pacific, Nevada. It’s possible that the first level may have originally been set in Peru where Lara Croft was supposed to retrieve the first artifact? This is purely speculation and is completely unconfirmed.
All Hallows which is a bonus level was originally intended to come directly after Thames Wharf, a beta version of the game confirms that this was changed during the last month of development. It would make more sense for Lara to slide down a building near St. Paul’s Cathedral only to end up there.
Core Design did a major makeover on the PlayStation engine, it supposedly makes use of all the power the PlayStation has. It had been confirmed in several magazine reviews that the game would support 1-3 routes of completion. Looking at several magazine scans, some levels show doors to other areas which were removed from the final version. This was possibly to help avoid the gamer from getting confused but it would have been a more adventurous experience in my opinion. Also, the Kayak from Tomb Raider III was originally a boat, but blue that resembled the one from Tomb Raider II. Earlier builds show how Lara’s movesets changed, became more complex but some new moves didn’t make into the final game. An example of this is the roll whilst crouching ability. A video feature for Tomb Raider III also shows Lara Croft utilising a combat knife which they further explained was intended to remove objects from stone, or climb trees which yet again never saw the light of day.
Tomb Raider 3 features an on-screen debug with several functions. One of which displays the POLYGON count on-screen so that the developers would know which environments are too large specifically for the PlayStation engine.
The syntax is as follows:
CURRENT_POLYS | MAX_LOADED_POLYS | POLY_LIMIT
CURRENT_POLYS = Amount of polygons currently loaded (the engine hides some). MAX_LOADED_POLYS = The highest current amount of polys reached (increases based on the current amount) POLY_LIMIT = Polygon limit, the game should freeze once it exceeds this limit as it cannot be handled by the engine.
In huge areas the polygon limit is at breach of 1990, 1990, 2000 which is also common in Thames Wharf causing the framerate to drop on the PlayStation version.
Alpha Stage – Date, Late May 1998 (E3 Build)
The title screen is different and I quite like it. Such a shame it never made it to the final release. It is also known that this build has unique loading screens for the South Pacific level which use an unknown render. Although this looks complete, the levels are in early development and contain some interesting parts which got cut. The only known playable levels are: Coastal Village, Thames Wharf. The deleted roll animation can be seen at 0:32. The flare lighting effects look much better compared to the final release’s cut-down version. My favorite part is when Lara is monkey swinging at 0:57, the animation is different.
Alpha Stage – Date, July 1998
Screenshots from an unknown July build shown in some early magazine scans.
Alpha Stage – Date, Late July 1998
The Jungle screenshots are looking close to final but it is STILL in early development stages. There are some level differences on the second screenshot, the wall is missing which divides the water from the land. In the third screenshot you can also see there is no save crystal so it’s obviously using the standard Tomb Raider 2 Save system.
Also, the All Hallows screenshots show early deleted parts and the first screenshots lack the red lighting effects used in the final build.
Beta Stage – Date, Late August 1998 (ECTS Build) Platform: PC
This build was shown at ECTS 1998. Some areas differ from the public September 1998 demo featured on various magazine demo samplers.
Beta Stage – Date, Mid September 1998 Platform: PSX
Here is a look at some of the left over weapons which can be unlocked within this demo. Some of them are still from Tomb Raider II like the Automatic Pistols and M16. Due to them being unfinished, Lara’s animations seem to glitch whilst using some weapons.
In this version of the game, Peru is on the map. No modifications are needed to unlock it, but the level itself is not there so the game freezes.
Late Beta Stage – Date, October 1998 Platform: PSX
About this beta
This is a beta build compiled close to final. Almost everything is done but there are minor/severe bugs which can prevent you from completing the game. The beta still has the deleted sprint and crawl + pickup animation. The sprint makes Lara seem to be more ‘butch’ I believe it’s why they changed it. Whilst picking up items when crawling, Lara will reach out to her bag pack like she’s putting it in there which doesn’t happen in the final.
Glitch 1 – River of Ganges, Quadbike
Another glitch is where the quadbike is too bouncy or can be used underwater. If you drive into a wall whilst falling into the water, Lara will be able to use it underwater without it exploding allowing the level to be completed easily.
Glitch 2 – Rx-Tech Mines, Mine Cart
The most severe bug is with the mine cart, it easily picks up speed causing it to become uncontrollable. Along with this, it bounces up and down like a ball. It is impossible to complete Rx-Tech mines because there is a speed issue which causes the lower mine cart to crash every time if used. The only way around this is to use the DOZY cheat to fly rather than using the mine carts.
Glitch 3 – Lost City of Tinnos, Fire Room
In the fire room, you can walk on the floor which should burn Lara Croft.
Glitch 4 – Rx-Tech Mines, Mine Cart
There is a bug when putting in the scitimar it will not work if you press X (action) you must go through the inventory.
In the Jungle the first secret located near the tree doesn’t exist and there is no shotgun.
In Lud’s Gate in the room near the end where there’s a switch in the water. It is not there, there’s actually a button to open the next area.
Editors: 1. Gh0stblade
Change log: Gh0stblade – Reordering and several video/spelling fixes. 16/03/16 Gh0stblade – Fixed some problems, partial re-write in progress. 21/02/15 Gh0stblade – Added info on debug info and fixed errors 09/12/12 Gh0stblade – Fixed mistakes added stuff. 12/05/12 Gh0stblade – Added August 1998 E3 PC, July PC Screenshots. 2/04/12 Gh0stblade – Started write up, added October 98 beta info 14/12/11, Added Late August info, Added September 1998 Info. Gh0stblade – Added E3 info, ECTS screenshots. 16/12/11 Gh0stblade – Added more general info, E3 video updated 09/01/11
Overview: The first Tomb Raider game became a success with high ratings and sold well. Core Design of Derbyshire had already planned a sequel, the game underwent big changes through development. According to rumors, due to the original game being such a success, Sony paid for the game to be exclusively made for the PlayStation which in turn resulted in the Sega Saturn version being cancelled. There is no evidence of this happening, if anybody has any official information please do update this. Core Design managed to successfully remaster and implement Lara’s ponytail which was a major issue back in 1995. Tomb Raider 2 was released on the Sony PlayStation and PC early November 1997. In 2004, an external company ported Tomb Raider 2 to the Tapwave Zodiac handheld device which is now defunct. The port was cancelled due to unknown reasons but is available to download from some places on the internet.
— Early Alpha Stage – Date, Late 1996 Platform: PC
These screenshots come from an early alpha build of Tomb Raider 2. As you can see, Lara has no braid, her model is exactly the same to the first Lara in Tomb Raider 1. There aren’t supposed to be stairs in Bartoli’s Hideout, the gate where the boat is supposed to drive through is missing. These are most likely the first set of screenshots showing Tomb Raider 2.
Alpha Stage – Date, Early 1997? Platform: PSX
This build is similar to the one above. However, Core Design began experimenting with Lara Croft having a braid. Some early E3 preview videos show a similar build.
Beta Stage – Date, 16th June 1997 (E3 Build) Platform: PC
After E3 1997, Tomb Raider 2 E3 build leaked onto the internet. As a result it is now available on many websites. The alpha consists of 3 playable levels in early development
The Wreck Of Maria Doria
Ice Palace / Catacombs of the Talion
In the first level Bartoli’s Hideout, you can notice that the Pistols’ Sound effects are completely different. The health bar is also different in color, just an early placeholder. In the beginning, you don’t start in the boat, they may not have created it yet. The original gate where you are supposed to go through with the boat is locked and the room in there doesn’t contain the clock tower door, it’s just a white textured room, could this be an early alpha room from the previous level? The sword men have no sound effects whilst their sword goes down. The Debug cheat ‘DOZY’ is available, Lara will swim once the user holds down ‘D-O-Z-Y’. The building shelters are normally textured with a red cloth like surface but in this version they are plain wood. In addition, there are no wired gates which separate areas, they are replaced with wooden slats hammered together unseen in the final version. The first secret is missing, the veranda which leads to the stone dragon is there but the door itself is missing. The positioning of the room under the fireplace was changed slightly in the final release. The inventory is the same to Tomb Raider 1, the guns are also identical: Pistols, Magnums, Shotgun, Uzis. The Magnums were later changed to ‘Automatic Pistols’ in the final build. The compass is still functional but was later changed to statistics watch to give a more modern game play experience. Whilst climbing up walls, there is a glitch which allows Lara to draw her guns, this was a problem back in July 1996 for Tomb Raider 1 which they fixed in the final, but it has re-occurred in this build. Secrets aren’t yet implemented, the locations are there though. The detonation key is different from the final one, it is gold and red where as, the final is grey entitled ‘TNT’. At 08:59, you can see an additional room which was removed from final. It has nothing in it, it may have been a placeholder room for the Stone dragon secret. It isn’t possible to complete the level, the TNT explosive device is not in this version, there are no end triggers so the only way to skip to the next level is to rename the level files.
In the second level, there appears to be a huge difference visually and with sound. The sound effects are from Tomb Raider 1, the first level contains early/final sound effects for Tomb Raider 2. The level is so early, it starts right at the end. In the beginning, there are no textures. The costume itself is completely different from final, it’s striped with orange whereas, in the final it’s white,blue,grey and black. There is a glitch with the lever at 1:53, you must rush to get to the other lever before the door itself closes, DOZY is a quick way of doing this. This area of the level is pretty much final, there aren’t many noticeable changes but the glitch at 3:59, the texture underneath the water is a rock texture. The inventory noise is exactly the same as Tomb Raider 1, in the first level it’s just a high pitched noise, the key has placeholder textures which aren’t final. The ending of the level is yet again untextured with no option to proceed to the next level.
Beta Stage – Date, 16th June 1997 Platform: PSX
PSX E3 Demo, it is identical to the PC E3 Demo.
Beta Stage – Date, Early September 1997 (Demo) Platform: PSX
This is a playable beta demo of the first level, there are several differences such as the title screen picture. It’s completely different, shows a picture of early Xian in china. At the beginning of the level, you can jump forward and grab the top ledge which you shouldn’t be able to do, it was fixed in the final build. Also, the helicopter doesn’t exist, it’s supposed to fly by at the top of the Great Wall, she seems to look though. Halfway through, in the room with the flying discs just before the boulders are introduced, the flying discs have the sound of darts from Tomb Raider 1, the sound was later changed in the late September build below. The level ends right after the spike crushers because it’s incomplete. If you bypass the ending, there is no way of proceeding since it’s nothing but a dead end. In the inventory, statistics has the extra feature ‘Hit/Miss Ratio’ this isn’t available in the final version. It may be because in the 30th September build, it is non-functional due to a glitch in the code which they didn’t have time to fix for final release.
Beta Stage – Date, 30th September 1997 Platform: PSX
This particular version was burnt to many pirated Tomb Raider 2 discs. Though close to the final game, the last levels are slightly unfinished with Temple of Xian and Lara’s Home being impossible to complete without glitching. The DOZY cheat can be accessed which turns Lara Gold, allowing her to swim in mid-air most likely used to help the developers navigate to specific rooms more quickly.
Beta Stage – Date, 17th October 1997 Platform: PSX
Pretty much the final game with dozy. —
Editors: 1. Gh0stblade
Change Log Gh0stBlade – Added September/October 1997 videos. 16/03/16 Gh0stblade – Added E3 June 1997 info, Added September 1997 Demo info, Early Alpha Info. 03/12/11 Gh0stblade – Added June 1997 Footage, September 1997 Footage, Early 1997 magazine scans. 05/12/11
After Tomb Raider: the Angel Of Darkness was considered a failure, Core Design, in 2004 came up with a new idea which was to do a complete remake of the first Tomb Raider game. Core Design developed their version of Tomb Raider: 10th Anniversary Edition for approximately 9 months until it was unfortunately cancelled early June 2006. It was then announced that Crystal Dynamics would be developing a new Anniversary game instead.
Interview by PlanetLara 24th July 2007.
Richard: It was a strange time really, we’d just finished Free Running for PSP/PS2 and had developed a really good control system and camera, we started messing about with a Lara model on the PSP in the Free Running engine and the idea of 10th Anniversary was born. We suggested it to Eidos who allowed us to develop it, but when Core was sold to Rebellion it seemed like they didn’t want the franchise to go ‘out-of-house’ hence the cancellation of our project.
It is confirmed that PC/PS2 versions were in development however the existing leaked footage and in-game screenshots have been confirmed to be taken from the PSP version. The trailer which leaked from an unknown source seems to show various different builds of Tomb Raider: 10th Anniversary Edition, some later than others. It is confirmed that both Core Design and Crystal Dynamics were working on separate games (Core Design – Tomb Raider: 10th Anniversary Edition, Crystal – Tomb Raider Legend). Eidos (the game’s publisher at the time now Square Enix) requested that Core Design should alter their Lara Croft model so it looks similar to Crystal Dynamics’ Lara Croft model used in Tomb Raider: Legend. The Lara Croft model seen in early prototype versions of Tomb Raider Legend is very reminiscent of the one seen in Core Design’s Tomb Raider: 10th Anniversary Edition.
Core Design (www.core-design.com) – 15th June 2006, 11:02:06.
Following speculation on the internet, we would like to offer the following clarification.
The video of Tomb Raider: 10th Anniversary Edition that appeared on certain sites was an unauthorised release of an internal presentation of a game that was being developed by Core Design until very recently. It was running on PSP and used a Core-developed engine. However, following a recent review this project has been officially cancelled by SCi.
Core is alive and well and working on some great new projects, and we are still planning to announce some exciting news very soon!
Eidos Press Release – June 16th, 2006
Eidos Interactive, one of the world’s leading publishers and developers of entertainment software, confirms today that they are developing a special ’10th Anniversary Edition’ of Tomb Raider. The new game is being developed by Crystal Dynamics, who recently launched Lara Croft Tomb Raider: Legend on Xbox 360, PS2, Xbox, PC and PSP, with versions on Nintendo DS, GBA and GameCube later in 2006. “Our ’10th Anniversary Edition’ of Tomb Raider, is a one-off title to celebrate both Lara and Tomb Raider, it will appeal not only to the loyal fans of the Tomb Raider series but will also attract a totally new audience.” Said Larry Sparks, Head of Brands Management at Eidos. Tomb Raider originally launched in 1996 and is still one of the best selling videogame franchises of all time, with over 30 million copies sold. The special ’10th Anniversary Edition’ of Tomb Raider will be available on PlayStation 2, PSP and PC.
In 2016 an interview with Gavin Rummery was published. It provided some details as to how the game started and speculation about why it was cancelled:
Gavin Rummery (Studio Head)
He put the pieces together in his head and pitched Eidos/SCi (SCi having taken over Eidos in 2005). They loved it, so a team of Tomb Raider veterans at Core set about remaking the original game in the new engine. It was going well, Rummery recalls—both looking and playing great. But Crystal Dynamics didn’t want Core back in the picture, and the American studio built a rival demo.
“They convinced whatever the politics in SCi was like that it made more sense to just keep it all in one studio,” says Rummery. “Keep the franchise in one place. And so ours was killed, and you’d have never heard if it hadn’t been leaked by someone.”
In 2016 Steve Pritchard responded to Gavin’s claims with the following:
Steve Pritchard (Producer)
No worries. It was a tricky time in the studio when Crystal were doing Anniversary – a lot of hard work had gone into that idea and to have it taken away and handed to Crystal was a painful thing.
Crystal Dynamics are in no way at fault for this – Eidos had become SCi at this point and that whole Eidos/Core/Tomb raider multi-brand was something that hung a little heavily around a few necks. Someone, somewhere, realised that handing a TR title back to the now-not-Core guys would have seemed like a strange commercial move, and with CD having a lot of cool tech all ready to go, it was a straightforward choice for them.
Yeah, it was a massive, massive kick in the nuts for those of us who had done a lot in a very short space of time to get Anniversary running, but from a business perspective it was understandable.
Gav was right to be angry about the way the whole thing unfolded and he’s also right in saying that SCi were up for it – Ian Livingston grinned a smile a mile wide when I described the concept as a “director’s remastering” of the original, with additional content filling out the whole TR1 game. So yes, it was a winner and yes, at the time it looked like me might claw it back. But someone, somewhere realised the media issues that might arise from the old Core lads doing another Lara game . . . and that was where the split began, not with CD.
I put more hours into the Core version of Anniversary than anyone else on the team – production tend to do that – and as we had such a small team most of what is seen in the leaked video was stuff I pulled together across a couple of evening shifts, the thing cut together by Gaz Tongue later. We were all gutted when the project went away. Projects do, all the time, but this one really felt like the last chance to grab back a bit of TR.
The last presentation to the SCi board had Gav and I demoing the Playstation version AND the PSP version, both of which had co-op gameplay in it. They were rough around the edges, still some way from alpha, but if you knew the original game well you could see where we had added real fan service, extra content and just cool stuff that expanded on the original narrative. It felt good to show off, it was received well, but that last presentation had us re-introduced to Toby Gard and some of the CD team who were there to see it. Two days later we got the news that they were going to do the Anniversary project, using their engine and tech from TR Legend. And that was that.
Horrible end to the story but I find it really difficult to lay the blame at Crystal’s door. SCi made the decision, and they really weren’t very good at decisions. They are not there for good reasons.
Not too long after that the studio was sold to Rebellion, Gav moved on and I ended up running the show for the next 18 months to two years. By then Core were a bit battered and bruised and being asked to shift their skills to “quick and dirty” work that was almost outsourcing saw all the talent start to pour away to other companies. “Corebellion” fought on for a while but the writing was on the all by then.