Tomba![lower-alpha 1] is a 1997 platform-adventure game developed by Whoopee Camp and published by Sony Computer Entertainment for the PlayStation. It was released in Japan in 1997 and in other territories the following year. The game centers on the eponymous feral child as he attempts to recover his grandfather’s bracelet from an evil race of anthropomorphic pigs.
Creator Tokuro Fujiwara developed Tomba! after leaving Capcom in 1995, founding Whoopee Camp as director, producer and lead designer. He chose the game’s 2D side-scrolling perspective for the format’s straightforward nature, and created a non-linear “event” system to differentiate the game from other platforming titles. Tomba! was received positively by critics, with praise for its controls, visuals, and varied gameplay objectives. However, the game’s audio received a more mixed reception. Despite the game’s lackluster commercial performance, it was followed by a sequel in 1999, Tomba! 2: The Evil Swine Return. Tomba! maintained a cult following years after its debut, and was re-released on the PlayStation Network in 2011.
Tomba! is an open worldplatform-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. Most of the game takes place in a side-scrolling perspective. However, Tomba can occasionally climb over walls to move between the foreground and background as separate areas. Some areas allow the player to explore them in an isometric view. Along with the ability to jump, Tomba can attack enemy characters by leaping onto and biting into their back before tossing them in a straightforward trajectory. Tomba can also attack enemies by obtaining various 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.
When Tomba interacts with a certain character or environmental element, an “event” may be initiated, in which Tomba is 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 with “Adventure Points”, which can be used to access additional events 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 displays the player’s current collection of items and events. The game includes a total of 130 events.
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. Tomba loses a vitality point if he is hit by an enemy, touches a sharp object, or falls into deep water. Vitality points can be restored by eating fruit. When all vitality points are depleted or if Tomba falls down a bottomless chasm, the player loses a life. If all lives are lost, the game ends prematurely.