Despite positive reviews from fans and critics alike, Tomba or Tombi as it was known in the EU/UK, did not see much commercial success. However, as the years have gone by the game has garnered something of a cult following and for good reason.
On a personal level, it’s one of our favourite PS1 games being visually good-looking and with a huge amount of depth to gameplay. Hours and hours could be lost to this game trying to complete every quest it has to offer.
A platform game, it was developed by Whoopee Camp (who had one of the most irritating logo sound effects ever) and published by Sony for the PS1.
The story sees a feral pink-haired boy named Tomba chasing down a group of evil pigs called Koma Pigs. They have stolen a bracelet from the boy which was given to him by his grandfather. Tomba ends up in a village where he eventually meets the 100-Year-Old Wise Man. He then tells Tomba the story of the Seven Evil Pigs who lead the Koma Pigs. They appeared out of nowhere and turned the land into a dangerous and inhospitable place. They have been stockpiling gold which is the source of their power, hence why they stole Tomba’s bracelet.
It’s now up to Tomba to find the seven evil pigs and defeat them to save the land and get his bracelet back.
Basic as the story is, it’s far from the focal point of the game. That comes from the absolute glutton of quests there are to complete. The ultimate aim is to find seven evil bags that will reveal where the seven evil pig lairs are. Then go in, defeat them and transform the location they cast their spell on. However, to even find the bags you’re going to have to explore a myriad of wacky locations each with unique challenges.
From the Dwarf Forest which has been infected with spores to Phoenix Mountain where a strong gale is now blowing to Baccus Village where the residents have been turned into mice. Each new location has its own unique look and style imagined in beautiful colours. The graphics are easily the most standout thing about the game.
However, it’s far from the only thing worth praising. As mentioned already the variety in quests is fantastic and they never get boring or repetitive. Some are as simple as finding an item and bringing it to a character but later ones get really complex and puzzling. Completing every single one is a big ask and ensures there is plenty of reasons to backtrack and replay areas.
Simplistic 2D gameplay and tight controls makes it feel all the better, crisp while being traditional.
If there is one area that Tomba doesn’t stand out though is with the music. The sound effects are great but the music really isn’t, bar one. Each has a goofy kind of feel and it’s only the transformed Dwarf Forest that feels any different.
It stands out in complete contrast to a system (PS1) that released an absolute glut of 3D platformers. Which makes it well worth taking a look at. Time hasn’t hampered it and it is still as much fun as it was 20+ years ago.