Review: Tomba!

Greetings, my dearest readers! I return yet again to review a game from an earlier generation! This week, I come bearing a review of Tomba! for the original PlayStation. Released as Ore Tomba! in Japan and Tombi! in PAL regions, Tomba! quickly became a cult classic due to its quirky story line and fun gameplay. Despite near-universal acclaim, Tomba! was only modestly successful. Whoopee Camp, the now-defunct development studio behind Tomba!, made only one other game in its lifetime: a sequel, Tomba! 2: The Evil Swine Return. It is unfortunate that Tomba! was not more successful as it was a unique and fun game that, like many others, passed right under the gaming community’s radar.

The pig on the left looks like it has just soiled itself in fear. Tomba is a scary kid.
Tomba is not like other boys.

Tomba! is a fairly simple 2D Action-Platformer with fun game mechanics. Tomba can run and jump, as one would expect of a platformer, but he can also grab onto walls, objects, and enemies. The game is not technically entirely 2D, as it is possible to jump onto walls and platforms in the background or foreground relative to the player character. The mechanics of Tomba!, while simple, are extremely fun. Unfortunately, the hit detection when grabbing onto certain objects, such as poles used for swinging, can be a bit finicky. But after a few minutes, it becomes easy to adjust for.

Combat is not a particularly important part of Tomba!; there are only a handful of enemy types and eight nearly-identical boss battles to be encountered. The focus is instead on platforming and quest mechanics. The quests in Tomba!, referred to in-game as events, are the primary driving mechanic behind the game. There are 130 events to be found, though many are not required to finish the main storyline. Events in Tomba! range from simple ones, such as taking out two monsters by throwing one into the other, to more complex and difficult ones like collecting several golden items. Tomba!‘s gameplay is simple and easy to learn, yet also manages to be very fun.

Storywise, Tomba! is certainly…unique. Tomba! is the tale of Tomba, a young pink-haired lad on a quest to stop an evil band of pigs called the Koma Pigs. While it soon becomes apparent to the player that the Koma Pigs are the cause of the problems in the game’s various locales, Tomba’s motivation for stopping them is not particularly noble or heroic. Tomba seeks to destroy the Koma Pigs in order to retrieve a golden bracelet, a memento of his grandfather. As he progresses his journey, Tomba soon learns of the Koma Pig’s leadership, a band of seven powerful magician pigs who can only be defeated by sealing them away in bags. Tomba!‘s plot is amusing, but not particularly substantial or complicated. Like many action games or platformers, Tomba! uses a minimalistic plot with few twists or surprises. Tomba!‘s character cast is likewise fairly limited; though the game has many characters, none are really memorable or exciting.

Laughing is a status ailment in Tomba! that is actually needed for a few events. Crying is also needed.
Tomba's laugh is nowhere near as awkward as Tidus's.

The setting of Tomba! is bright and colorful, and the atmosphere is one of the game’s strongest points. Tomba! uses 2D sprites and pseudo-3D backgrounds in its graphic design. Simply put, Tomba! looks exactly like what one should expect from a 2D PlayStation game, with 32-bit era sprite-driven graphics. Tomba!‘s music is similarly vibrant and upbeat. The music is catchy, with memorable tracks aplenty. Despite the PlayStation’s technical limitations, Tomba! maintains a bright atmosphere that definitely contributes to the game’s cult following.

Tomba! is certainly not a game without flaws, despite how fun it is. Chief among them is its length; the game is around five to seven hours long, even if the player strives for one hundred percent completion. It also hurts that a copy of the game generally costs around sixty dollars. If Tomba! were to see a PSN release, it would most certainly be worth the purchase. I highly urge any reader who is able to find a cheap copy of Tomba! to snatch it up; it is a highly addictive and incredibly fun little PlayStation game that absolutely deserved more success. So, readers, what do you think? Are any of you familiar with this cult classic game, or am I the only person on who has played Tomba!? Let me know in the comments! I am curious to see if anyone besides me has played or even heard of this little-known title.


  1. I played and beat this game sometime in my early teen years (maybe in the late 90s/early 2000s) and I remember enjoying it quite a bit. I believe my older brother bought it but I have no idea how he heard of it or what compelled him to pick it up. My mother actually enjoyed watching my brother and I play and even playing herself (she was frustratingly bad) despite not showing any interest in any other game we played, really, which really weirded me out. Maybe her lifelong dream was to toss a pig into a butt flower, who knows?

    That music you linked to still pops into my head every now and again and hearing it and watching youtube videos of gameplay makes me want to play it again (I think I still have my copy somewhere). I think the key to the gameplay being great is the unusual amount of satisfaction you get after you learn to speed run parts of the game. I definitely agree that this game deserves a spot in the PSN lineup.

  2. The best pig-chasing game in the world.

    Perhaps the only pig-chasing game in the world.

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