Inevitably, Tomb Raider would look and play better on the PlayStation and PC, but I was none the wiser until later. That brief period of Saturn exclusivity certainly propelled the machine to strong early sales - but the later comparison between versions became yet another step on Sega's endless death march to hardware oblivion.
For most of us in the UK, it was the first proper 3D platformer; Super Mario 64 was still some months off a European release when Tomb Raider came out.
Suffice to say, it was a revelation - and every single plaudit that was lobbed its way was earned and justified. Including all the ones calling into question the assertions from Ian Livingstone and others that the hot-panted Lara Croft was a feminist icon.
I played the original Tomb Raider yesterday, for the first time in a very, very long time. It has aged, of course. Lara's pointed breasts are very much of their era, and the controls really are a pain in the secret parts; simply lining up to pull a switch is eight times the faff it needs to be.
But it still has something special, and for me it's the atmosphere. Somehow, those rough-hewn polygons and the limited draw distance conspire to evoke a dank, endless, emptiness. It feels somehow dangerous, like you're entering locations which haven't seen another human in centuries. That sensation is helped by the sparseness and economy of the soundtrack. There's restraint at play, of a sort you rarely see in games these days.
If there's one moment in that original which has stayed with me above all others, its when you enter the ruined amphitheatre in level 6. At the time, I had to linger, and just take it in; until that point the levels had been claustrophobic, littered with jagged rocks and boulders.
Somehow, I had turned a corner, and stepped out into an open space, which stretched off into gloom. As the delicate music swelled up, it spread out before me. It felt impossibly vast. Even though the Saturn couldn't quite cope - the corners were shrouded in shadow - that just added to the mystery: what was this ancient place doing so far underground? Why were there tigers in there? Who had built it? What lurked in the darkness?
I didn't need to know Lara's backstory, or her inner turmoil. I didn't need the character to be mourning the death of her father, or suffering from PTSD. I just revelled in the sheer awesomeness of what was before me. And I had discovered it. I was an explorer.
Everything I loved about that moment was ruined in 2007's Tomb Raider Anniversary.
Already by level 6 of the anniversary edition, the soundtrack had become a near constant accompaniment to my adventuring, scoring the exploration with a sledgehammer subtlety. Yet I knew what was ahead: my amphitheatre. The one I'd discovered more than ten years before. Surely it couldn't have changed that much?
Except this time, when I stepped into the space, it switched to a fully CGI cutscene. With gorillas. Throwing rocks at Lara Croft. There was no time to linger, or reflect. It propelled me immediately into battle.
The choral music swelled, building in tempo, becoming operatic, and in that something was lost. They took away everything that I had loved about that original moment. I was no longer in control. I wasn't allowed to feel what I wanted to feel. Instead, I was having it dictated to me.
Rather than let me feel awe, they were ramming a pre-packed emotional response down my throat; your life is in danger! These big gorillas are going to tear you apart! Quickly - shoot them! It's exciting, yeah?
There was no space or time to enjoy the sheer thrill of exploration, to bask in the discovery as I had in the original. I felt like I was being funnelled through the action as quickly as possible.
The moment had been redefined for a new generation of gamers, whose attention-spans couldn't be trusted. Instead of being left alone to explore as I once had, I had descended into the catacombs with a full orchestra and team of CGI artists.
Unfortunately, over the next ten years, that heavy-handed approach to Tomb Raider would only get worse.