Tomba! is set on a group of islands in the middle of an ocean which do not appear on any map. Formed with great provinces in the north and smaller islands in the south, the region is 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 (Tombi in Europe). 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. Wikipedia.
Tomba is like a blast from the past, with a twist. On the surface, it looks just like the side-scrolling platform games of the 16-bit era. You’ll find the requisite jumps, attacks, tricks of timing, and monsters (evil pigs, no less!).
But Tomba adds to this tried-and-true formula. There are numerous “events” Tomba must complete in order to advance through the game. For instance, near the beginning of the game, you learn that you must clear some fog in order to move forward. It’s up to you to find out how to complete this task; it takes a bit of exploration to figure this puzzle out. Once you’ve gotten rid of the fog, you have “cleared” an event, and you can move on. Not all events are so straightforward; some tasks are downright cryptic, and you can have several events to clear at any one time, so playing Tomba requires some concentration.
Tomba sports fresh, very cheerful graphics, decent sound and music appropriate for a platform game, and smooth controls. There’s a lot of moves to master, but signposts along the way teach you how to use your controller as you progress through the game. Some areas of the game allow you to explore the foreground and the background of the level as separate areas, but don’t let that fool you: Tomba is at heart a 2D game.
The only real drawback to playing Tomba is the limited ability to save your progress. In order to save a game, you must find one of the special signposts scattered throughout the levels; it’s a chore to save your game when you want to. A much more logical option would have allowed you to save your progress whenever you cleared an event.
But that’s just a minor complaint. Tomba is a great game well suited for anyone who wants a break from the glut of 3D action games out there. –John Broady
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