Today’s interviewee considers himself a proud member of the Angel of Darkness fanbase and isn’t afraid to show it. Meet AJ Rich!
My name is AJ Rich. I’ve been a music promoter for almost 9 years now and I’m into anything that has to do with art. I’ve done multiple fan-dubs of video games over the years.
(For those that don’t know what a fan-dub is, it’s basically taking a scene from a video and replacing the acting with someone else)
When and how did you learn about the Tomb Raider series?
Funny story actually. I was only 5 when the first game was released so I didn’t learn about it from a magazine or anything. My older sister got it thinking it was a racing game because of seeing Lara on her bike on the back of the case. I ended up picking up the game one day and I just remember being blown away by it. Back in 1996, I remember fighting games and side scrollers being the norm so it was incredible to see a full third-person game in action, not to mention a strong female who could take out any man.
Do you run a Tomb Raider fansite or blog? If so, what would you say was your biggest achievement to date?
It has been a lot of fun meeting so many fans and getting to talk with them. I can only speak for myself here but the biggest thing I’m proud of is that we bring so many fans together while keeping it civil. It’s nice to have a place where everyone gets along and discusses the series without people getting screamed at for their opinion.
How has Tomb Raider changed your life?
A lot, actually. Growing up with Lara Croft has made me a very determined person. If there is something I feel is worth fighting for I’ll keep at it until I get results.
Were you interested in archaeology before discovering Tomb Raider? Have the Tomb Raider games and films inspired you to learn more about ancient history?
Well, I was only around 5 when I discovered the series so, no, I wasn’t interested in archaeology beforehand. But yes, after playing the games for so long, I wanted to learn everything I could about Egypt or anything from the past.
What are your thoughts on Lara’s image? Is she simply the product of a sexist gaming industry or can she be seen as a positive role model?
I’ve always seen her as a role model for young woman (and even boys). She’s strong willed and never gives up. I mean, what more can you ask for in a role model? I never have really given her image much thought. It wasn’t until Legend that they really started focusing on Lara herself. Before that, she was always in the background. Her image in magazines, etc, in the 90s may have been pretty sexualized but so what, we all know sex sells. The important thing is she was never oversexualized in the games themselves.
What’s your favourite Tomb Raider game?
My all-time favorite game in the series is, and always will be, The Angel Of Darkness. To me it was the last real TR game. The music was spellbinding and stuck with you, the story was the best in the series, and the characters were very well written. I loved the fact Core Design took a risk by switching up the gameplay.
And your least favourite game?
It’s a tie between Legend and Underworld. Both these games didn’t feel anything like a real TR game. Legend was basically made for casual gamers and to bring in new fans to the series. Incredibly easy and very arcade like. As for Underworld, while it looked beautiful, the gameplay was extremely lacking and boring, missing a lot of polish when it came to the controls and camera. Not to mention the abysmal ending we got after so many years. Other than those two, I’d probably say the Gameboy Color games.
Classic, Legend-Anniversary-Underworld or Reboot Lara?
Classic Lara forever. She’s the one I grew up with so I’ll always prefer Core’s version of Lara.
Do you have any favourite Tomb Raider moments or quotes?
Oh god, where do I even start? LOL. My all-time favourite moment in TR history has to be the moment Lara confronts Eckhardt before the boss battle begins. Second favourite would probably be the AOD ending scene, when Lara walks into the darkness after smiling. It was a pretty bittersweet way to close out the classics. Of course, the T-Rex moment from the original game, breaking through the boats in Venice, Lara’s home being overrun at the end of TR2. Just too many awesome moments to name them all…
What about least favourite moments? Is there anything you dislike about the games/films/comics?
The films were pretty horrid in general and most of Legend was pretty cringeworthy to me. Of course, the ending to Underworld felt rushed or like something was cut at the last moment to rush the game out.
If you could change one thing about the Tomb Raider franchise, what would you change?
Get Lara back into those tombs in the main games and bring back AOD as a Lara Croft spin-off title.
Which places would you like to see Lara explore in future games?
Possibly Egypt once again. And I would love another trip to Venice 😉
Finally, if you could join Lara on one of her adventures, where would you go?
A huge thanks to AJ for taking part in our series of fan interviews. Feel free to follow him and his fellow admins over at the Survivor Reborn forums and Facebook page or check out his Angel of Darkness appreciation page.
You can find an archive of all our fan interviews over here.
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