Once every year I will ask my brother “What was that amazing game we used to play when we were young-“
“Tomba.” He replies without looking up from his philosophy text.
“Oh Yeah… I should dig that out.”
And 7 years later since the first time I asked that, here we are.
Tomba! is defiantly one of the most memorable games of my childhood, playing it was a nostalgic trip the likes that haven’t been seen since Charlie Vs. This at my 5 year old cousins house. Each section threw me further into an entranced state until my stomach’s aggressive rumblings brought me to the realisation that I had been playing for 10 hours straight without eating. I think I was under the assumption that I was 8 again and my mum would shortly be bringing through cheese toasties on white bread (Not brown bread that’s Yucky and filled with cooties) so I didn’t need to worry about cooking for myself, review deadlines or other human beings.
You play as a caveboy(?) who gets his golden bracelet stolen by some humanoid pigs and in order to retrieve it you must scour the lands jumping on pigs in varied climates and ecosystems. Once again that classic Japanese story writing ethos of “Why not?” has created a tale similar to those I scrawled with crayon instead of doing maths. It’s safe to say that what ‘Tomba!’ lacks in narrative it makes up with imaginative gameplay and ideas that again, are quite close to my maths book scribbles.
When you first meet a new species of humanoid speaking in a tongue you do not understand in the majority of video games and your first response isn’t to straddle the creatures head in a hope of humping the knowledge out through brain to penis diffusion then clearly you haven’t been playing enough ‘Tomba!’. The game is insane to the point that anything sane within the world is a real oddity. There is a pair of bananas hanging from a tree at one point and I remember looking at them quizzically both now and when I was young thinking they may turn into yellow snakes or the foot of a mountain goat. You really get into the curios mind-set of the pink haired caveboy Tomba when you play for extended periods. I would worry at times I may not be able to return to my 21st century middle class mind but alas I am no more howling at the moon with my wolf brethren than I am wearing anything other than a dressing gown for the rest of today.
Engrossing in every way is how I would describe ‘Tomba!’. The visuals are so bright and hypnotising that I felt myself getting more and more drawn in the longer I played; a lot of games nowadays use photo-realistic graphics and lifelike sounds to force a sense of immersion onto the player but last time I checked I’m not a pink haired caveman who jumps on pigs all day and I felt more immersed in this than I have for a long time. I think I just wanted to be pulled in so bad it just happened for me like a good film or book (pfff… reading).
The controls are a little slow in comparison to most platform games which made it a little irritating when you are forced to backtrack through the same terrain. Luckily there are shortcuts when you are returning to an area which nearly always yield rewards making it not feel like a waste of time. There is this one section however where you must cross a cactus patch and my hatred of taking anything other than stealth games slow just wouldn’t let me do anything other than jump recklessly across it. If I died I would have to restart it all over again but GOD DAMMIT I’m no bitch! I’ll play the game at my own pace even if it means I die 100 times! (which I did).
When I was younger it was like Mario had carved the law that platformers should be a guy running from left to right jumping on things and never going back on himself. Because of this Platform/adventure games where the player sometimes returns to the same zone felt a little odd to me, this idea of quests in a platform game was unknown territory for me and I believe the rest of the world but they do offer an interesting change and one that I liked.
When I read the term ‘Cult-Classic’ I’m instantly put on edge; obviously not everything is made to please the masses but at a time where platformers and adventure games were the gaming industries bread and butter I wondered what held ‘Tomba!’ back from being the commercial success all these people believe it should have been? So after a little digging I found out there just wasn’t enough physical copies in the stores which is a huge shame because the reviews were great and the internet is full of people saying how much they wanted it back then but couldn’t find a copy. With the advent of the PSN store however these poor people who were denied ‘Tomba!’ all those years ago can now play it on their PS3 or PSVita and I strongly advise that they do.
Every PS1 game I have bought of the PSN store has been a real treat to play. Sure at times they show their age but the reward they give me in terms of being able to relive those classic moments that formed the building blocks of the retarded Lego structure that is my personality is more than enough to outweigh the occasional “WHY DID THEY MAKE THIS GAME SO HARD!?” moment.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.