Tomba!

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Tomba!
Tomba! NTSC.png
Developer(s) Whoopee Camp
Publisher(s) Sony Computer Entertainment
  • JP: Whoopee Camp
Director(s) Tokuro Fujiwara
Producer(s) Tokuro Fujiwara
Designer(s)
  • Tokuro Fujiwara
  • Toshihiko Uda
  • Masayoshi Kurokawa
Programmer(s)
  • Tokuro Fujiwara
  • Toshihiko Uda
  • Masayoshi Kurokawa
Artist(s) Tokuro Fujiwara
Writer(s)
  • Masayoshi Kurokawa
  • Akira Kinoshita
Composer(s) Harumi Fujita
Platform(s) PlayStation
Release
  • JP: December 25, 1997
  • NA: July 16, 1998
  • EU: August 28, 1998
Genre(s) Platform-adventure
Mode(s) Single-player

Tomba! [lower-alpha 1] is a platform-adventure game developed by Whoopee Camp and published by Sony Computer Entertainment for the PlayStation. The game was initially released in Japan in December 1997 and worldwide the following year. Lead designer and producer Tokuro Fujiwara established Whoopee Camp and led the development of Tomba! after leaving Capcom in 1995. The game centers on the exploits of a pink-haired feral child named Tomba as he attempts to recover his grandfather's bracelet from a race of anthropomorphic and antagonistic pigs.

Contents

Tomba! was received positively by critics, with particular praise going to the visuals and varied objective-based gameplay, with more mixed reception directed toward the audio. It was also re-released on the PlayStation Network in the early 2010s. Despite the game's lackluster commercial performance, it was followed by a sequel in 1999, Tomba! 2: The Evil Swine Return , and would maintain a cult following years after its release.

Gameplay

Tomba! is a platform-adventure game with RPG elements. [1] [2] The player controls the titular character Tomba, who must explore his home island, defeat the evil Koma Pigs and recover his grandfather's golden bracelet. [3] The semi-open world can be explored freely once the areas are unlocked as the story progresses. [1] Tomba is capable of moving left and right across the screen, although he can occasionally move between the foreground and background and explore each as separate areas. Some areas in the game enable the player to explore them in an isometric view, allowing Tomba to move around freely. [4] Along with the ability to jump, Tomba can attack enemy characters by leaping onto their back, biting into them and tossing them in a straightforward trajectory. [5] Tomba can increase the variety in his offensive measures by obtaining weapons such as flails and boomerangs. [6] Signposts scattered throughout the environment state how to use the game's controls and abilities, [7] while a select few can be used to save the player's progress. [8]

The game's progress is driven by the completion of up to 130 "events", [9] which are initiated by Tomba interacting with a character or environmental element and being given a task to accomplish or an obstacle to overcome. Such events may consist of finding a lost item, rescuing a stranded character or clearing a blockade in the imminent path. [10] Upon completing an event, the player is rewarded an amount of "Adventure Points", which can be used to advance toward a new area and unlock specifically-marked chests. Multiple events can be undertaken at once and often do not require being cleared in any specific order. The game features an inventory system that compiles the immediate given set of events for review as well as a collection of the items that have been obtained. [11]

The player begins the game with a maximum of four "vitality points" that are represented as a series of yellow bars on the upper-left corner of the screen. If Tomba is hit by an enemy character, falls into deep water or touches a sharp surface, he will lose one vitality point. Vitality points can be restored by eating fruit. When all vitality points are depleted or if Tomba falls down a bottomless chasm, a life will be lost. If all lives are lost, the game ends prematurely. [11]

Plot

Tomba's bracelet, an heirloom from his grandfather, is absconded following a confrontation with a group of evil Koma Pigs. [3] He ventures to a nearby village in his pursuit, where he is directed to the 100-Year-Old Wise Man. [12] The Wise Man relates to Tomba the story of how the Seven Evil Pigs, the leaders of the Koma Pigs, appeared and used their powers to tarnish the land. He explains that the Koma Pigs have been stockpiling gold (which is later clarified to be the source of their magic powers [13] ), and surmises that Tomba will find his bracelet if he seeks out the Seven Evil Pigs hiding throughout the land. [14] To aid in this endeavor, the Wise Man informs Tomba of the Evil Pig Bags capable of revealing the Evil Pigs' hiding places and capturing them, and tells him to seek out the Dwarf Elder in the nearby forest to learn more about the Evil Pig Bags. [15] The Dwarf Elder gives Tomba a blue Pig Bag and tells him that the Evil Pig Bags have the power to manifest the entrance to an Evil Pig's hideout if Tomba is to draw near to it, but also that the individual Evil Pigs do not hide in the same area that they have cast their specific spell. [16]

Tomba ventures throughout the continent gathering the rest of the Pig Bags. He cures Phoenix Mountain of its perpetual gale by capturing the Stormy Evil Pig, lifts the curse on Baccus Village (which has turned its citizens into mice) by capturing the Earth Evil Pig, raises Trick Village out of submersion by capturing the Water Evil Pig, extinguishes the inferno in Lava Caves by capturing the Fire Evil Pig, cures Dwarf Forest of its spore infestation by capturing the Forest Evil Pig, cures Masakari Jungle of its hostility by capturing the Deep Jungle Evil Pig, and cures the Haunted Mansion of its foreboding nature by capturing the Haunted Evil Pig. When all of these Evil Pigs have been captured, an eighth Evil Pig Bag manifests within Tomba's possession and reveals the lair of the Evil Pigs' creator and leader, the Real Evil Pig. [17] After defeating the Real Evil Pig in his trove of gold, Tomba recovers his bracelet.

Development and release

In December 1995, Tokuro Fujiwara left Capcom after 13 years as an employee. Fujiwara's motivation stemmed from a desire to create new and original games, which he felt he was unable to do within Capcom. Upon exhausting his accumulated vacation days, Fujiwara officially resigned immediately following the release of Resident Evil . [18] Fujiwara established the independent development studio Whoopee Camp afterward, [18] and would act as the director, producer and lead designer of the studio's debut game Tomba!. [19] On his choice to make a 2D side-scrolling game, Fujiwara stated that a two-dimensional presentation was fundamental to the experience of "TV games", and that the format was a straightforward way to please and excite players. To set Tomba! apart from other timing-based action games, Fujiwara placed an emphasis on thinking and decision-making on the players' behalf and cultivated a highly flexible and free environment within the game, which would be reflected in the game's non-linear "event" system and Tomba's gradual growth in abilities and resources. [20] The music of Tomba! was composed by Harumi Fujita, and includes "Paradise" by Tokyo Channel Q as the opening theme and "Que Serã Serã" by Fumitaka Fuchigami as the ending theme. [19]

Tomba! was released in Japan on December 25, 1997. [21] Promotional plush figures of Tomba and a Koma Pig were distributed in extremely limited quantities around the game's original release date. [20] Visual improvements were added to the international version of Tomba!, including Gouraud shading on background elements. Additionally, the controls were made more responsive and the load times had been reduced. [22] The European version features the North & South song "No Sweat '98" as its opening theme. [23] Tomba! was released in North America on July 16, 1998 and in Europe on August 28, 1998. [24] [25]

Tomba! was re-released on the PlayStation Network in Japan on July 6, 2011. [21] Distributor MonkeyPaw Games spent the course of a year formulating an English-language distribution deal with Sony and Fujiwara. [26] The involved parties elected to hold off on extending their relationship beyond Tomba! until its re-release showed satisfactory sales figures, upon which the re-release of the game's sequel, Tomba! 2: The Evil Swine Return, would be arranged. [27] The English-language version of Tomba! was re-released on the PlayStation Network in North America on June 19, 2012 [28] and in Europe on October 3, 2012. [29]

Reception

While Tomba! received positive critical reaction, its commercial performance proved lukewarm; Tomba! did not sell enough copies to qualify for inclusion in any of Sony's budget ranges, although it sold well enough to justify the sequel. [35] [36] Following its initial release, Tomba! garnered a cult following, with unused physical copies of the game selling for as much as US$250 on eBay. [35]

Randy Nelson of IGN was impressed by the variety of Tomba!'s playable quests and remarked that they "never [get] boring or repetitive". He also positively compared the gameplay and controls to Fujiwara's previous titles Ghosts 'n Goblins and Ghouls 'n Ghosts , stating that "fans of those games will eat this one up." [22] John Broady of GameSpot described the gameplay as a "tried-and-true formula" and "well suited for anyone who wants a break from the glut of 3D action games out there", though he criticized the game's limited save system as a "chore". [7] Bro' Buzz of GamePro praised the "classic" gameplay as "skillfully crafted" and commended the "expansive" explorable landscape, the variety of puzzles, the "crisp and tight" controls and the "easy-to-use" inventory. [9] Joe Rybicki of Official U.S. PlayStation Magazine found the game refreshing after a glut of post-apocalyptic three-dimensional third-person shooters at E3 1998, and was satisfied with the large amount of quests, but warned that this might overwhelm players by leading them on a tangent and sidetracking them. [33] PlayStation: The Official Magazine lauded the tight controls and the depth and charm of the storyline. [34] Next Generation stated that the game's quest system was "utterly engrossing and disguises the familiar platform mechanics quite well." [32] Mark Cooke of Game Revolution, however, felt that the game's "traditional" gameplay was "un-innovative" and "a little too tired" in spite of the game's "fun" quest system. [31]

The game's visuals were praised. Nelson noted that the game's mix of two-dimensional sprites and three-dimensional backgrounds "work[ed] well" and was "packed with personality", and described the game's character and level design as "top-notch". [22] Broady described the game's graphics as "fresh" and "very cheerful". [7] Bro' Buzz stated that the game's "unusual" textures and "muted" colors gave the 2D game an "impressive 3D feel". [9] Rybicki was surprised by the depth of the game's bright and colorful polygonal environments. [33] Next Generation described the graphics and animation as "beautiful" and "smooth". [32] PlayStation: The Official Magazine commended the diversity in the visuals and challenge of the game's levels, and also considered the character animation to be smooth. [34] Cooke said that "the sensational art is coupled with well modeled 3D objects that create a lush world filled with interesting life forms. Forests, leaves, water, buildings, everything, is drawn with incredible detail. Even the hand-animated cut-scenes are cute and funny. Tomba has some of the best 2D art out today." [31]

Reactions to the audio were middling. Nelson was apathetic toward the game's music and felt that it "unfortunately could have been much better." [22] Broady described the sound as "decent" and the music as "appropriate for a platform game". [7] Bro' Buzz cited the sound effects as "just all right" and "minimal to an extreme", and claimed that the music was "limited to one catchy but repetitive, goofy tune." [9] Next Generation noted the presence of "at least one catchy tune". [32] PlayStation: The Official Magazine praised the music as "simple but catchy" and reminiscent of video game music from earlier generations. [34] Cooke commended the "entertaining" audio as being "composed and recorded well" and suggested it "may set a new high water mark for platformers." [31]

Notes

  1. Known as Tombi! in Europe and Ore! Tomba (オレっ!トンバ, Me! Tomba) in Japan.

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