Sony Computer Entertainment
PlayStation, PlayStation 3(PSN)
PlayStation: July 1, 1998
PSN: June 19, 2012
E (Comic Mischief)
If I said “platformer” you’d say Mario, Sonic or maybe since his recent return to form in the sublime “Origins” even Rayman. But there is one little critter whose platform adventure has been lost in time. Perhaps to simply brand it a platformer is derogatory to it’s genre blending nature. Part action adventure with a racing game chucked in for good measure and the item collecting and mission playing madness of an RPG. Don’t know who I’m talking about? He’s a little Tarzan like boy in his tiny shorts, mini 6-pack and pink locks. That’s right. Tombi. Who?
Well if you are one of our american brethren you may know him instead as Tomba. Still not sure who were talking about? Allow me to divulge. Tombi or Tomba (we’ll settle on Tombi, for that’s how I know the blighter) is on a rescue mission, but one all the more materialistic than Mario’s routinely selfless escapades (unless we assume he is only willing to rescue Peach due to his utter desperation to get his end away). Tombi’s favourite golden bracelet has been stolen and as such it’s time for him to take to the more civilized regions of this colourful land in the hopes of finding it. Fitting in with the gaming cliches we know and love it’s not long before everyone he bumps into, ranging from literal cheeky monkey’s to self declared cute witches, have a brand new mission to sling his way. What does this all amount to I hear you ask? A collective of grumpy old men, each an extra zero older than the last with the youngest being a hundred, recruit Tombi as their personal solider against seven evil Pig Men who can only be defeated by you capturing their souls inside bags.
Well, when you’re so busy fighting to achieve 100% who has time for logic!
Luckily with a plot so bonkers Tombi never takes itself too seriously, infact quite the opposite. Every tiny cell of it’s creation is proudly barmy and the meta-textual humour running throughout, such examples being one of your mission setters quizzing how on earth Tombi is capable of carrying such a large array of items with no bag or even pockets, brings a sense of sheer comedic delight.
The epitome of addictive ‘Tombi’ is essentially a side scroller but feeding from it’s RPG inspiration does not feature levels, instead one large world, with backtracking playing a major role. With so many hidden nooks and crannies across every inch of every region each player get’s their own unique experience of what missions happen when and there may even be some a player never, ever finds.
It’s combination of crazy music, colourful graphics and unique structure means it remains utterly void of being grounded in time. It’s graphics are so quintessentially “Tombi” that there is nothing to suggest what era of gaming it belongs to and as such, remains perfect for anyone of any age to pick up at any time. It’s characters are so constantly rich and full of charm that everyone plays has their very own favourite. Will yours be Baron the flying puppy, obsessed hide and go seek player Yan or the daunting Dwarf elder. These words of praise may seem bias, perhaps bordering on sycophantic. But this is no review. This is a love letter. To the best game you’ve never played.
It may seem more even to offer up at least some cons to the game, but given that it’s studio went under shortly after releasing a sequel due to the franchise not granting the public attention critics were screaming it deserved, I’d rather just offer them the congratulations they so rightly deserve to hear.
The admiration bestowed upon this lost legend by it’s obsessives has meant that now a copy of it goes for $60 at the cheapest on ebay with game fans desperate to get their hands on it thanks to the vast smorgasbord of high critical praise no one noticed it was getting until far too late.
- Really fun gameplay
- Surprisingly entertaining for a bargain bin game
- Could use more save points
And to think. When I was just a young child I found it in a bargain bin for a measly five of my English pounds. I wonder what other potential classics we’ve all be ignoring in favour of the safe brands. I do wonder. Next time you have some loose change, don’t save it toward the next big release, treat yourself to something from the bottom of the bargain bin
Who knows what you might find…
Many probably have never heard of Tombi before but would any of you give it a chance?