Core Design

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Core Design Ltd.
Industry Video game industry
Fate Liquidated [1]
Successor Rebellion Derby
Founded 1988
Defunct 2006
Headquarters Derby, United Kingdom
Key people
Jeremy Heath-Smith, Adrian Smith, Gavin Rummery, Toby Gard
Products Video games
Owner Eidos (brand, intellectual property), Rebellion Developments (staff, assets)
Website Official Site (archived version until 2008)

Core Design Limited (stylised as CORE Design) was a British video game developer best known for Chuck Rock, Rick Dangerous and Tomb Raider franchises. For most of its history, it was owned by British publisher Eidos Interactive.

Core is renowned for creating action/adventure series Tomb Raider.[2] The popularity the series enjoyed made the games and their star, Lara Croft, some of the most iconic names in video game history.

In the aftermath of the botched mishandling of the Tomb Raider brand displayed with The Angel of Darkness,[3][4] Eidos decided to shift development responsibilities of the franchise to its other subsidiaries, thereby bringing about Core Designs' eventual demise.

Core Design ceased to exist in 2006 after its assets were sold off and most key employees departed the company on the heels of the Angel of Darkness debacle.[1]


Based in the city of Derby, England, Core Design was set up in 1988 by Chris Shrigley, Andy Green, Rob Toone, Terry Lloyd, Simon Phipps, Dave Pridmore, Jeremy Heath-Smith, Kevin Norburn and Greg Holmes. Most were former employees of Gremlin Graphics.

The studio was part of distribution company CentreGold when it was acquired by Eidos Interactive in 1996. Eidos subsequently sold most of CentreGold, but retained U.S. Gold, the owners of Core Design. Core had a brief history of producing titles for the Sega consoles, such as Thunderhawk for the Mega-CD and later the original Tomb Raider game for the Sega Saturn.

Tomb Raider[edit]

The company is widely known for the Tomb Raider series, created by Toby Gard and Paul Howard Douglas, which was released in 1996 and followed by several sequels. The success of Tomb Raider and its subsequent sequels played a huge part in keeping Eidos Interactive financially solvent.

After the successful Saturn debut of the original Tomb Raider a full month and a half ahead of the PlayStation version, Sony Computer Entertainment had an eye-opening view of Tomb Raider's market penetration potential, and that led to the conclusion to use the brand to boost sales of its own console.
In September 1997, Sony signed an exclusive deal with Eidos[5][6] to ensure that neither the Saturn nor the Nintendo 64 would get any sequels. The full terms of this agreement have never been disclosed. By making Tomb Raider II PlayStation exclusive, Sony Computer Entertainment was able to attract new PlayStation owners, leveraging Tomb Raider as a killer application and using Lara Croft as a marketing character alongside Sony's own first party characters. Core Design also had the advantage of developing for a single console, as opposed to several at once.
Sony's agreement was further extended to cover the third game in the series. The fourth and fifth games in the franchise, Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation and Tomb Raider Chronicles respectively, were released for the Sega Dreamcast.

Later years[edit]

In 2003, after Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness was met with mixed critical reviews and limited commercial success, parent company Eidos put Crystal Dynamics, another Eidos-owned studio, in charge of Tomb Raider franchise development.[7] This prompted three key members of the Core Design team and several others to leave the company and establish a game development team of their own, Circle Studio. Jeremy Heath-Smith, a key member of the company and executive producer of the vast majority of their games, resigned from Core Design on 15 July 2003.[8]

Sale to Rebellion[edit]

On 11 May 2006, Eidos announced that independent developer Rebellion Developments had acquired Core Designs' assets and staff;[1] whereas the Core brand and intellectual property, including those of Tomb Raider will remain in Eidos' possession.
In June 2006, screenshots were released showing development of a PSP version of an anniversary edition of the original Tomb Raider, developed by Core Design. Days later, SCi Entertainment, then-owners of Eidos Interactive, issued a press release announcing that Crystal Dynamics would be producing the game, rather than Core Design.[9] Remnants of the Core Design team (under the banner of Rebellion) went on to work on several titles in the years since including Shellshock 2: Blood Trails and Rogue Warrior.[10] The Derby studio was closed by Rebellion in 2010 due to an expiring lease and the inability for the company to find a financier for the studio.

Games developed and published[edit]

According to GamesTM, Core Design had "over fifty successful titles under its belt such as Rick Dangerous, Curse of Enchantia and Premiere. However, the company is best known for creating and milking Tomb Raider series for all its worth."[11]

Year Game Platform(s)
1988 Action Fighter Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Atari ST, Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum
1989 Dynamite Düx Amiga, Atari ST, ZX Spectrum
Rick Dangerous Amiga, Atari ST, DOS, Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum
Saint and Greavsie Amiga
Switchblade Amiga, Atari ST
1990 Torvak the Warrior
Corporation Amiga, Atari ST, DOS
Monty Python's Flying Circus: The Computer Game
Axel's Magic Hammer Amiga, Atari ST
Impossamole Amstrad CPC, Atari ST, Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum, Turbografx-16
Rick Dangerous 2 Amiga, Atari ST, Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum
CarVup Amiga
1991 War Zone
Chuck Rock Amiga, Amiga CD32, Atari ST, Commodore 64, Sega CD, Sega Game Gear, Sega Genesis, SNES
Heimdall Amiga, Atari ST, DOS, Sega CD
Frenetic Amiga, Atari ST
1992 Doodlebug
Chuck Rock II: Son of Chuck Amiga, Amiga CD32, Sega CD, Sega Game Gear, Sega Genesis, Sega Master System
Curse of Enchantia Amiga, DOS
Hook Sega CD, Sega Genesis
Premiere Amiga, Amiga CD32
The Adventurers Amiga
Thunderhawk Amiga, DOS, Sega CD
Wolfchild Amiga, Atari ST, Sega CD, Sega Game Gear, Sega Genesis, SNES
Jaguar XJ220 Amiga, Sega CD
Wonder Dog
1993 Asterix and the Great Rescue Sega Game Gear, Sega Genesis, Sega Master System
Encore DOS
Blastar Amiga
1994 Corkers
BC Racers 3DO, Sega 32X, Sega CD
Heimdall 2 Amiga, Amiga CD32, DOS
Banshee Amiga, Amiga CD32
Battlecorps Sega CD
Bubba 'n' Stix Amiga, Amiga CD32, Sega Genesis
1995 Skeleton Krew
Asterix and the Power of the Gods Sega Genesis
The Big Red Adventure DOS
Shellshock Microsoft Windows, PlayStation, Sega Saturn
Firestorm: Thunderhawk 2
1996 Tomb Raider
The Incredible Hulk: The Pantheon Saga Sega Saturn
Blam! Machinehead a PlayStation, Sega Saturn
Virtual Golf
1997 Swagman
Fighting Force Microsoft Windows, PlayStation
Tomb Raider II b
1998 Ninja: Shadow of Darkness PlayStation
Tomb Raider III b Mac OS, Microsoft Windows, PlayStation
1999 Fighting Force 2 Dreamcast, PlayStation
Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation Dreamcast, Microsoft Windows, PlayStation
2000 Tomb Raider Chronicles
Tomb Raider (GBC) Game Boy Color
2001 Tomb Raider: Curse of the Sword
Project Eden Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 2
Thunderhawk: Operation Phoenix PlayStation 2
2002 Herdy Gerdy
2002 Tomb Raider: The Prophecy Game Boy Advance
2003 Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness Mac OS X, Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 2
2005 Smart Bomb PlayStation Portable
2007 Free Running
a Released in N. America as Machinehead.
b Released exclusively on the Playstation system.


  1. ^ a b c Gibson, Ellie (16 June 2006). "Rebellion acquires Core Design staff and assets". Gamer Network. 
  2. ^ "Original Home of Lara Croft and Tomb Raider". Core Design Ltd. 
  3. ^ "Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness review". GamesRadar. 23 October 2003. Archived from the original on 23 October 2003. Retrieved 6 July 2012. 
  4. ^ White, A. A. (1 July 2003). "Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness Review". Game Revolution. Retrieved 1 February 2014. 
  5. ^ "Sony Computer Entertainment America Signs Exclusive Deal with Eidos for Tomb Raider Franchise; Lara Croft Videogames to Be Exclusive to the PlayStation for Game Consoles" (Press release). Foster City, Calif.: Sony Computer Entertainment America. September 18, 1997. 
  6. ^ "Sony Computer Entertainment America Signs Exclusive Deal with Eidos for Tomb Raider Franchise; Lara Croft Videogames to Be Exclusive to the PlayStation for Game Consoles". Business Wire. CBS Interactive Business UK. 18 September 1997. Retrieved 20 January 2010. 
  7. ^ "Lara leaves UK". BBC News. 2003-07-31. Retrieved 2009-07-01. 
  8. ^ Fox, Fennec (2003-07-15). "Tomb Raider Co-Creator Steps Down". Archived from the original on 2008-01-23. Retrieved 2009-07-01. 
  9. ^ McWhertor, Michael (2006-06-17). "PSP: Tomb Raider 10th Anniversary Edition Cancelled, Announced". Retrieved 2009-07-01. 
  10. ^ Robinson, Martin (2010-01-14). "Aliens vs. Predator Campaign Hands-on". Retrieved 2010-01-18. 
  11. ^ gamesTM Issue 5, p. 71. Imagine Publishing

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