When Tomb Raider launched in 1996, many immediately drew parallels between it and the classic movie franchise Indiana Jones due to the similar concept of exploring abandoned ruins, adventuring through jungle habitats and more. Despite this, Tomb Raider would go on to become a pop culture icon spawning a plethora of sequels, movies and merchandise, to the point that most no longer cared about the similarities and appreciated the new ideas the franchise brought to the table. That said, the parallel has remained in people’s minds to the point that, in the mid noughties, we almost got a Tomb Raider and Indiana Jones crossover game.
This was revealed a few days ago by longtime Traveller’s Tales director Jon Burton on his YouTube channel GameHut. In a recent upload (which will be linked at the bottom of the article), he details how the idea came to be as well as how it fell through. In 2005, Traveller’s Tales launched LEGO Star Wars, a video game interpretation of the popular LEGO Star Wars toy brand. The game was an immediate hit, to the point that it spawned a direct sequel as well as tens of games based on other movie franchises that are still being released today. Among them was LEGO Indiana Jones which was released in 2008, something that was immediately planned to happen earlier.
After the success of the first LEGO Star Wars, Traveller’s Tales expressed interest in a LEGO Indiana Jones game, but the publishers weren’t interested as there were no plans involving the Indiana Jones franchise at the time. This changed when Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, the fourth Indiana Jones film (and everyone’s favourite, a sketchy source tells me), was announced, and the LEGO Indy game we now have came to be. Prior to it though, Traveller’s Tales had interest in doing a LEGO Tomb Raider game due to the studio’s close relationship with the team members behind the Tomb Raider series. The publishers weren’t interested as they didn’t believe the Tomb Raider franchise was big enough. Adapting to this belief, they surmised a LEGO Tomb Raider/Indiana Jones crossover title.
Unfortunately, this was shot down too. The publishers were already aware of the similarities between Tomb Raider and Indiana Jones, so a product that would directly acknowledge that parallel was something they were very against. This is a real shame because, while I understand their uncertainty, it would have been a groundbreaking game due to it essentially acting as a “passing of the torch” moment, the acknowledgement of Tomb Raider as a spiritual successor being a brilliant way to elevate the Tomb Raider brand even more while also making kids aware of the classic Indy series that they might have missed due to their age. Neither franchise really needed it, but it still would have been impactful.
Interestingly, a LEGO James Bond game was also pitched but, in the most shocking thing you’ll hear today, that was also shot down. The publishers didn’t like the idea because Casino Royale had just released at the time, a film that took 007 into a much darker and violent direction that wouldn’t have been fitting for children.
So what are your thoughts on this situation? Are you bummed the Tomb Raider/Indiana Jones and James Bond games never came to be, or do you agree with the publishers’ responses to the ideas? Let me know in the comments or via my Twitter profile @JoshsJots. Below is the GameHut video going into detail, including displaying a prototype LEGO Indiana Jones trailer showing Indy before they finalised his design: