There have been several versions of the original Tomb Raider released over the years, but a console as old as the Game Boy Advance can’t possibly run something that requires the processing power of the PlayStation 1, can it? Apparently not. Using OpenLara, an open-source project developed by a modder, it was possible to get the first Tomb Raider to run on a Game Boy handheld device.
OpenLara is the work of XProger, who has been working on the project since its inception in 2017. Since then, they’ve demonstrated OpenLara running on a variety of platforms, including the Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, smartphones, and even the 3DO. Not only that, but XProger has also managed to get the game to run in split-screen mode, allowing players to see two Lara Crofts running around at the same time.
However, it is the Game Boy Advance port that has surprised a lot of Tomb Raider fans, despite the fact that the rest of the game is excellent. New video from XProger demonstrated the port, in which they are seen inserting an OpenLara cartridge into a Game Boy Advance and playing through the Croft Manor tutorial and the first level of the game. The game’s developer, XProger, claims that three of the game’s levels are currently playable in this format.
It’s a remarkable achievement, given that the Game Boy Advance was notoriously unimpressive when it came to playing 3D games. But here we have one of the most influential 3D games of all time running at close to 20 frames per second with all of the original music and sounds. If you thought the Tomb Raider soundtrack couldn’t possibly get any creepier, just wait until you hear it played back through a Game Boy Advance.
When asked how they were able to get OpenLara onto a cartridge, XProger replied, “It was through a lot of hard work.” “In order to support older platforms that do not have an FPU or even integer divisions on the CPU, the engine has been completely rewritten. It makes use of software rasterization and matrix math, which are both done in ARM assembly language”
It’s possible to try out OpenLara for yourself by downloading the source code from GitHub, though getting it to work on a Game Boy may require a significant amount of effort.