Gamers who grew up playing Ghost ‘n Goblins and Mega Man should already be familiar with Tokuro Fujiwara. He was responsible for creating and/or producing the aforementioned games. During the original Playstation’s heyday, Tokuro was responsible for producing a 2D platformer that starred a pink-haired protagonist that liked to bite his enemies.
During its prime, Tomba! was a game that introduced gameplay mechanics that were unique to the platform genre. It was also one of the first Playstation games (at the time) to support Sony’s Dual Shock controller feature. A sequel was eventually released, but it wasn’t nearly as good as the original.
As a game, Tomba! is a platformer that offers unique role-playing elements . You can swing on tree branches to reach platforms, cling to pillars to avoid danger, and scale buildings to collect hard to reach items. Even though the game is 2D, it divides the play field into two separate planes. This adds an element of depth to the environments. Gameplay is usually restricted to the foreground, but there are times when you can climb into the background to collect items, kill enemies, and enter different areas.
The game includes 130 missions; these range from collecting items to saving dwarfs. Additionally, you must acquire Adventure Points (AP) to complete certain missions. To earn these points, you must kill enemies and perform specific actions. For example, killing Koma pigs will earn you a minimum of 500 points. Smaller items like fruit only give 100 AP. Solving puzzles will also increase your AP, but the amount awarded varies for each event.
There’s also an experience point system that works much like a standard RPG. As Tomba levels, he will acquire new skills that will help him combat his foes and traverse the trap-laden landscape. Experience points are earned by killing enemies; you are awarded one point per kill. Attacking an enemy is as simple as pressing the X button (to jump on their back) and then pressing it again to throw them. Weapons like the Blackjack, Wood Boomerang and Stone Boomerang are available to make the process easier.
Tomba’s gameplay is full of unexpected surprises. The puzzles are especially strange and offer an imaginative twist to the gameplay. One puzzle in particular has you retrieving a tornado from a mailbox. The tornado must then be taken to the end of the level to clear a fog that is blocking your way. Once you’ve successfully completed the first puzzle, you’re faced with learning a new language to further the story, but the only way to accomplish this is by jumping on the head of a frightened dwarf. As strange as this may sound, this is only a fraction of the puzzles available in the game. Some puzzles are less direct and require platforming skills to overcome, like climbing wooden planks that spin on a 360 degree axis.
There are few games today that come close to replicating Tomba’s refreshing approach on gameplay. And while it’s well over a decade old, Whoopee Camp’s cult classic continues to stand the test of time. Even the graphics with their bright, pastel colors still manage to impress.
While sealed retail copies of Tomba! for PSone continue to sell on eBay for exorbitant amounts of money, Playstation 3 gamers can experience the same game for only $9.99 thanks to MonkeyPawGames.
Tomba! by Whoopee Camp is a fantastic game that offers hours of enjoyment and plenty of originality. This is one game that everyone should own.
Platform: Playstation 3
Developer: Whoopee Camp
ESRB: E (Everyone)
|Tomba's graphics still manage to impress.|
|Cooky sound effects and catchy tunes enhance the experience.|
|Unique gameplay mechanics make Tomba! an instant classic.|
|This is one game that everyone should own.|