Why did I play this?Why did I play this?

Posted on Jul 22nd 2019 at 08:00:00 AM by (SirPsycho)
Posted under playstation, platformer, 2d, adventure

In 1996 a legendary game designer left Capcom to form his own game development company. Tokuro Fujiwara founded Whoopee Camp after an insane career as a video game director and producer that spanned over a decade at Capcom. Fujiwara's credits listings while working at Capcom easily rank him amongst the greatest game designers of the 8 and 16 bit arcade and console era. He is credited with creating Ghosts 'n Goblins, directing and producing multiple games including Sweet Home, Breath of Fire, DuckTales and many other Capcom licensed games from the era, Final Fight 2 and Final Fight 3, and multiple Mega Man games. What would be Fujiwara and Whoopee Camp's first game after Fujiwara left this legacy behind and forged his own path?

Tomba! A 2D side scrolling platformer starring a pink haired young caveman. In Japan the game was published by Whoopee Camp while the international release was handled by Sony Computer Entertainment. In Europe the game's name was slightly changed to Tombi! In Japan the game released in late 1997 with its international release coming in 1998.

At its base level Tomba! appears to be a straightforward 2D platformer. It does have some interesting features beneath its surface. The first discovery for players is that the game has a foreground and background that Tomba can move between at certain points. The game also has a world map that all the screens connect to each other with. In this way the game is similar to a Metroidvania, albeit with differences. Most of the game's development was likely concurrent with one of this subgenre's seminal games, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, which released earlier in 1997. Tomba can also gain abilities through his gear and by learning them with the game's exploring style. Tomba! has a quest system called Events in the game, with the main quest of the game coming through these Events, and there are plenty of optional Events in the game as well.

The rewards from Events include items that make traveling the world much easier. Each area in the world is fairly compact, and range from one screen upwards, but most are between two and three. The world is inhabited by four Old Wise Men who each give Tomba a key to unlock a certain type of chest found throughout the world. There are items which give Tomba extra life energy like heart containers from Zelda games, extra lives, weapons, gear which gives Tomba different abilities, healing food, and fast travel items. The first Wise Man gives Tomba a bell which gives him infinite fast travel to the room of the Wise Man, the other bells are found in chests unlocked by their Wise Man's key. The number of items in the game is quite large, and all of them have some use that can be used to solve puzzles, unlock doors, complete events, and be used in interesting ways.

The graphics from Tomba! are quite charming, being mostly 2D with a few 3D elements thrown about or animated during screen transitions. Its obvious the game was meant to appeal to children with its focus on bright colors, cartoonish character design, and the playfulness of the environmental design. The music and sound design matches this playful element, with Tomba himself having a high pitched voice that makes incomprehensible sounds as the player controls him. The music is rather upbeat in most places, with only a few spots having more serious sounding themes. The antagonists of the game being evil pigs who lust for gold and use magic to change the world is also rather innocent and a far cry from the bloody violence that was a bit more standard and popular at the time on the Playstation. However, there were also plenty of other games appealing to children releasing at a similar time, with most of them being 3D. Couple this with a lack of marketing and Tomba! suffered from lackluster sales.

Over the years Tomba! has become a cult classic from the Playstation era. The game's smaller print run has lead to the game being rather expensive for a PS1 game. A complete copy currently averages between $70-80. A much cheaper option exists for those interested in just playing the game. Tomba! was released as a PSOne Classic on the Playstation 3, PSP, and Vita, where it can be purchased for $9.99 at a regular price. Despite the game's smaller sales numbers Tomba! did receive a sequel, Tomba! 2: The Evil Swine Return. Its essentially Tomba! with 3D graphics and terrible voice acting, and its market presence was similar to the first game. Both games are expensive to purchase physically, with Tomba! 2 going for about the same price as the first for a complete copy.

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I had no idea who created Tomba!

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