REVIEW – Tomba! (PSOne on PSN)

Love Pink

Tomba

Cavemen. Evil pigs. Pink hair. Platforming. Ledge clinging. 2.5D. Side quests.  FMVs… Tomba could very well be one of the best games you never played.

Known for reviving long lost cult favorite video games, MonkeyPaw has painstakingly brought back the pink hair caveman to the PSN.  This digital download is also the most cost efficient way to play this title to since a mint copy on eBay can fetch a hefty price.

Tomba really is a unique game and not just for the goofy main character and story line.  At its heart, the meat of the gameplay is a 2D platformer.  However, this is no Mario.  Instead of simply completing one consecutive level after another, Tomba takes a note from Metroid-vania style of gameplay as new abilities are unlocked when they are needed to gain access to new areas.  Finding these new abilities are often the result of fulfilling ever-changing side missions.  One minute you might be searching for a lost relic while the next you are saving trapped dwarfs.  Tomba’s missions offer something different pretty much every time.

Literally adding depth to the gameplay is the 2.5D aspect of the level design.  At times, the pinked haired cavement has the ability to jump into the background or foreground which creates some interesting level designs and structures.  With this said, Tomba is not the easiest game in the world.  Some jumps can be tricky and finding out where to go next isn’t always obvious.  But this is why Tomba is more of an adventure game than a platformer.

Besides the occasional difficulty spike, Tomba’s control will take a little bit of time to get used to.  Jumping, especially when the game first starts, is a little strange because of the jumping animation.  Tomba pounces with all limbs out like a dolphin at Sea World but instead of belly flopping he always manages to land on his feet. This is also misleading because many of the evil pigs carry pointy weapons with the tip up; it seems that jumping on them would cause damage but actually is one of Tomba’s best forms of attack.  The controls are not bad, they just take a little bit of time to adjust to the game’s overall obscure but welcoming theme.  Also, there is no option to use the analog stick to control movement; the d-pad is the main source of control.  Saving is also restricted to certain areas but usually isn’t a deal breaker.

Even for a PSOne game in the modern age, Tomba holds up pretty well visually.  Colors are bright and the FMVs have been made with high presentation values and pretty much everything is animated; jumping on platforms causes them to bounce with a trampoline effect which gives off a friendly cartoon-like effect.  The soundtrack is just as colorful as the graphics but unfortunately loops much too quickly.

Tomba is an exceptional game that never got the recognition that it deserved.  For $10, Playstation users can experience this long forgotten relic.  Besides, how often to get to play as a pinked hair caveman and fight swine?

8/10

On Par With: Klonoa

Also Try: Alundra

Wait For It: Tomba 2

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