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Tomba! – The PS3 Attitude Review

Submitted by on Monday, 25 June 20124 Comments

When deciding which adventure platformer starring a pink-haired caveman to play, only one series comes to mind: Tomba. And while PSone Classics can rarely hold a candle to games released this generation, there aren’t many that are cut from the same cloth.

At first glance, Tomba may seem like just another 2D side-scrolling platformer, and this would be true if it weren’t for the trace amounts of 3D platforming. But with a direct competitor in Klonoa: Door to Phantomile and modern day platforming hits like Rayman Origins, how does Tomba stack up?


One of the game’s most unique features is its quest system which offers a total of 130 unique quests to complete. At the start, in the Village of All Beginnings, you discover more than a handful of quests. Some of these are optional side-quests, while the rest are required before moving on to the next area.

The quests in Tomba are stackable, so while you’re running around looking for butterflies you’ll be initiating additional quests along the way. Completing these side-quests unlocks additional rewards, abilities, and items. Rewards such as alternative outfits and weapons will enhance Tomba’s abilities, while other items are useful for completing other side-quests.

Dora the Explorer owes Tomba some royalties.


Most linear platformers follow a standard formula of progression: the hero travels from point A to point B before moving onto the next level. Tomba stands out by taking this formula and crumpling it into a ball and throwing it in the garbage. Tomba’s world is littered with Metroid-style progression obstacles interwoven throughout each area of the game, and he can travel freely within the boundaries of those obstacles.

Though the game is presented as a 2D sidescroller, it has 3D graphics and layers where you can jump into what looks like the background, only to find another section of the same area to explore. There are hidden shortcuts to other areas found only once certain quests are completed. These quests are really quite imaginative.

Throughout the game, Tomba meets many non-playable characters, and many of these acquaintances will assist Tomba in different ways depending on the incomplete quests at hand. In the Dwarf Village, while all the quest dwarfs have been recovered, except the little boy, many of the dwarfs in the village will point out that you haven’t actually saved them all yet.

At one point during my playthrough, I thought I could complete a quest, only to discover that my character needed to learn how to swim first. Suddenly I was given a bunch of bananas and it occurred to me that there was a hungry monkey in a tree at the beginning of the whole game. So I went back and gave it the bananas. He awarded Tomba with a new running ability, and this ability came in handy later for accessing new areas with a longer jump.

I’ll take those bananas, but next time I see you, you’d better have a real boat.

At another point, a hidden green dwarf told me there was a dog barking in the spores and needed to be rescued. When I took the dog back to the same green dwarf, he said the dog looked sick. I recalled that while exploring the Dwarf Village, I spoke with a woman who said she was a doctor. So I took the sick dog to her and she took care of it, but told me I needed to find medicine.


Tomba was released for the PlayStation in December 1997 in Japan, and later in the summer of 1998 for the rest of the world. It came out on compact disc, and now, 15 years later, it has been re-released for digital download on the PlayStation Network. The game’s creator, Tokuro Fujiwara, knew how to make fun games; he’s also known for creating Ghosts N’ Goblins and producing the Mega Man series.

You gotta try these mushrooms, they’re hilarious!

After 20 years, Tomba plays just the way anyone would remember, but this time on a large high-definition TV or on the smaller screen of the PSP. Thanks to PS3, Tomba can be played with the visuals upscaled to 1080p, smoothing out all of the textures. This modern presentation of a classic helps to make it playable for both existing fans and those curious to find out what all the hype is about.

Maybe Tomba didn’t inspire Grand Theft Auto to incorporate quests into an open world, maybe it just inspired the people who may have played it and worked for Rockstar. After playing through the original Tomba, I’m eager to get my hands on Tomba 2. And if at all possible, I implore MonkeyPaw to step up and make a Tomba game for this generation.

Frequently accessible manual save points are scattered closely together throughout the game. I managed to get many hours of Tomba gameplay in on the PS3 and the PSP Go. The selling points on Tomba tout over 100 hours of gameplay, but I probably won’t be the one to prove this. Though, at $9.99, there is absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t add Tomba to your digital download collection.