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The Tomb Raider Myth That Almost Wasn't Fake

Iconic video game characters of the 90s generally include stars like Mario, Solid Snake, and Earthworm Jim. These characters, while all outstanding in their own way, make up the very large group of popular gaming characters that are men. When it comes to iconic women characters of the 90s, Lara Croft from "Tomb Raider" was arguably the most popular. Croft has continued to be one of the most popular women in gaming, and she's still talked about 25 years after her first appearance. In fact, some people even imagined how she'd look as she got old with the help of a professional in 2021.

When "Tomb Raider" first came out, one of the most popular gaming hoaxes started spreading. People were swearing up and down that there was a way to make Lara Croft nude, whether it was through button inputs or collecting specific items. The rumor was completely false, despite fans wanting it so badly there was a PC mod that created it.

However, it was almost true. Two of the original developers of the game, Paul Douglas and Gavin Rummery, spoke to TheGamer about the myth and how management really wanted to implement it.

Developers explain that the myth was fake

Douglas and Rummery were quick to explain that the myth was just that: a myth. There was no truth behind the rumor, but it was frustrating for them to watch the hoax play out.

"It annoyed us because a) it didn't exist, and b) it meant we'd meet people at parties who thought we were perverts making pornographic video games for children," Rummery explained to TheGamer. He went on further to say that the infamous shower scene in "Tomb Raider 2" was added as a way to tell off people who were trying to see Lara nude (in the scene, Lara shoots the player for trying to catch a glimpse of her while she's getting undressed.)

While some developers were unhappy with the rumors, upper management wanted to capitalize on the word-of-mouth marketing that was happening. In fact, Douglas explained that it was "surprising" to see how long the publisher, Eidos Interactive, went along with it — and that it even wanted it in the first place.

Eidos seemed to love the publicity

According to Douglas, there was one point while the game was being developed that a person in management asked for "something similar" to the nude myth to be added to the game. While Douglas said that they told them to "bog off," and that the suggestion was a poor joke, Eidos embraced the rumors and ran with them.

Website LegendsRevealed made a note about an old "Tomb Raider" advertisement that referenced the rumor by using the tagline "Still no nude codes." This attention to the myth from marketing was, in Douglas' opinion, what kept it going despite it being completely fake.

"Alas, those were the days when all publicity was seen as good regardless how it depicted the character," he explained. Additionally, other sources were contributing to the spread of the nude rumor. While overzealous PC players created a mod to make the rumor real, according to TheGamer, console players were reading columns in magazines that supposedly verified the myth.

The persistence of the myth to this day

In April 1997, a UK magazine published that it had been tipped off by someone who worked on "Tomb Raider" that there was indeed a nude cheat (via Reddit scan). The magazine argued that the cheat, which consisted of two people creating a "Spice Girls" tune on the controller while simultaneously making Lara dance to the beat, would trigger a scene of Lara dancing with disco lights before the lights would go out and she would come back with no clothes on. The writer even argued that they successfully completed the button inputs and saw a nude Lara in the game with their own eyes.

Censored nude photos of Lara were shared in the magazine, and there was even a "comment" from a representative of Core Design, the developers, that said "It's not a problem, we don't think anyone under the age of 18 has the [rhythm] to access this mode."

Some noted in the comments that this article contributed to the rumor mill and seemed to be a source of problems, but others pointed out that it was an April Fool's prank taken seriously. Either way, other magazines also pushed out similar stories that had players searching for a way to get Lara naked.

In fact, some players still swear that they've successfully completed the cheat and seen Lara naked in the original version of the game. This urban legend may not be one that even the developers of the game can quell, unfortunately for Lara and the team behind her creation.