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RETRO MONTH: Tomba! Review

Pigs haven’t always been antagonists in videogames. I mean, sure there is Angry Birds and those pigs are aaasssholes. Anything else, kids? Duke Nukem? Yeah, Pig Cops and the like. But, there was one game that stood out on top, beating out the Duke and pre-dating Angry Birds…that game is Tomba!

Tomba was released in America on July 1st, 1998 as a side-scrolling adventure game developed by Whoopee Camp for the Sony PlayStation. Tomba! was followed by a sequel titled Tomba! 2: The Evil Swine Return. The series is the brainchild of Tokuro Fujiwara, who also created the Ghosts’n Goblins and produced the Mega Man series(WHOO!). It was also one of the earliest PlayStation games to take advantage of the Dual Shock feature, which was still in the beginning stages of it’s existence. Tomba plays in 2.5D, and is a platformer. Although Tomba is normally restricted to a two-dimensional plane, there are certain points where he can jump or climb onto a new plane. Tomba’s main method of attack is to jump on top of enemies to grab them, allowing him to hop around on them before throwing them away. This can also be used to open other objects such as eggs or treasure chests. Tomba is also able to use various projectile weapons such as maces and boomerangs and can swing on branches and poles. Not to mention the awesome Gundam Hammer! Yeah yeah, it’s not called that. But true fans know what I mean, right?

The story of the game is actually quite interesting. Tomba! is set on a group of islands in the middle of an ocean which do not appear on any map…okay, strange. Formed with great provinces in the north and smaller islands in the south, the region was home to peaceful people who lived in tranquility for many years. The island was once a beautiful place, home to birds and plantations. The protagonist is an energetic pink-haired youngster named Tomba, who just couldn’t quite let go of the 80’s. One day, seven evil pigs appeared, and using their magical powers, they mutated the surroundings into a bizarre landscape. The underlings of The Evil Pigs, called the Koma Pigs, stole Tomba’s grandfather’s bracelet and a substantial amount of gold through a strange lust for it. Man…pigs are assholes…anyway, Tomba’s quest is to fetch his bracelet, which requires trapping the Evil Pigs along the way. Trapping them involves finding the Evil Pig Bags, which are keys to entering each realm of each Evil Pig. He must also complete missions for other people to get items and the Evil Pig Bags. Some side-missions are purely for fun and irrelevant to the main storyline, but it keeps the replay value quite high nonetheless.

Our clueless, but loveable hero!

Gameplay is very innovative and cool. The game is based around a mission system, where the main character’s (Tomba’s) skills are employed to complete various tasks. Completion of a mission gives a certain amount of adventure points (AP) which are required for AP boxes which contain food (which gives you AP and restores 1 space of vitality) or items, and you may for example need 50,000 AP to open one. AP is also used to gain access to special places or information later in the game. Not all missions are necessary to progress in the game, however they are required to achieve full completion. There are 130 events (missions) in the game. Many events rely on other events to be completed. So you see, it has a lot of an RPG feel to it and even though it has a lot of events, it’s nowhere as ridiculous as Maple Story or something where you have to collect a billion dog fleas or something to advance further. Yeah, no…nothing stupid like that.

In the end, Tomba! is an amazing game and a true PS1 Classic. It’s fun and innovative, great story and mechanics, and definitely has an amazing group of memorable characters. Finding this game for PS1 can be quite difficult, with the sequel being next to impossible to locate. Of course, should you find a copy on Amazon or something, the price may be a bit high for most. However, the awesome people at Monkey Paw Games have took the liberty of re-releasing Tomba! for the mere price of $9.99! Compared to most of the PS1 Classics on the PlayStation Network Store, that’s a steal! So for all you Retro fans out there, if you want to experience an amazing game and relive those blissful moments from the good ol’ days, then Tomba! is a great start! This game definitely gets a 10 out of 10!

Until next episode…

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