Tomba! 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.
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.
Tomba! is a platform-adventure game with RPG elements. 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. The semi-open world can be explored freely once the areas are unlocked as the story progresses. 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. 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. Tomba can increase the variety in his offensive measures by obtaining weapons such as flails and boomerangs. Signposts scattered throughout the environment state how to use the game’s controls and abilities, while a select few can be used to save the player’s progress.
The game’s progress is driven by the completion of up to 130 “events”, 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. 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.
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.
Tomba’s bracelet, an heirloom from his grandfather, is absconded following a confrontation with a group of evil Koma Pigs. He ventures to a nearby village in his pursuit, where he is directed to the 100-Year-Old Wise Man. 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), and surmises that Tomba will find his bracelet if he seeks out the Seven Evil Pigs hiding throughout the land. 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. 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.
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. After defeating the Real Evil Pig in his trove of gold, Tomba recovers his bracelet.