Let's Replay: Tomba! 2

Release Date
31 December, 1999
Single Player
Whoopee Camp
Sony Computer Entertainment

The PlayStation Store recently saw the re-release of PS1 classics, Tomba and Tomba 2 (better known as Tombi in Europe). I was absolutely thrilled as Tomba 2: The Evil Swine Return was one of my childhood favorites. Unfortunately, the games were only available in Japanese and, try as I might, I couldn’t get through all of the challenges without being fluent. Off I trudged to Amazon to see how much an English copy was and found nothing cheaper than at least fifty dollars – cripes. In a final act of desperation, I dug through my old case of games and voila! There was my pink haired beauty, ready to go!

Loaded, booted and off we went!

Now, some games just do not age well. Even nostalgia cannot always blind players to the awful polygons writhing before them or the finicky controls most of us have long since tried to repress in our memories. Tomba 2, however, is not on that list.

The game still looks fairly crisp and colorful, with its 2.5D worlds all still feeling well-crafted, vibrant and impressive. They still have a presentation about them that brought a smile or two. The only downside is that they are far too small. Even so, they are packed quite nicely with gems, secrets and items that will come into play in quests to come without feeling crowded or unnecessary.

That’s one thing I always really loved about Tomba 2: the puzzles and problem-solving elements. While they don’t seem all that difficult now, my child brain was completely blown working out how to solve each and every one. It’s one of the only games I’ve ever played that made back-tracking fun. Normally, this is something that can hinder or even ruin the experience, but it still holds strong as a gameplay element here.

Speaking of, the controls are still pretty impressive. Tomba controls well, though the hit detection is sometimes a little too precise. The Kujara Ranch, the third world in the game, features a mini-game in which Tomba must toss the Kujara into washing machines before the time limit runs out. Sounds simple enough, right? Ha ha, nope. The hit detection has to be just spot on, otherwise the oversized cheeps will hit the wall and bounce off – not to mention you have to jump just right to catch them, or they’ll briefly stun you and you’ll lose precious seconds. There’s ten levels to this game; ten levels of increasing difficulty and madness. It was one of two quests in Tomba 2 that actually took me years to beat with my awful hand-eye coordination.

On this day, I shake my fist at thee, Tomba. Ten years you’ve mocked me with your impossible trolley quest and Kujara washing. Now, I emerge the victor, with only a touch of shame!

Ahem, continuing on. The story here is pretty standard of an early platformer: evil pigs kidnap Tomba’s friend and have put a curse on the various worlds. In order to beat the game, Tomba must fight each one of the evil pigs to break the curse and find Tabby. It’s not exactly the most stellar plot, but with all the fun mixed in, I honestly couldn’t care less. The boss battles alone make up for the lackluster plot and vary in arena and difficulty. While the evil pigs aren’t exactly bursting in complexity and rich back story (really, who is in this game?), they do make for some engaging and fun antagonists, especially as things go batshit insane near the end of the game.

And oh, that voice acting. Dear Poseidon in the sea, it is some of the most hilariously mismatched and goofy voice acting I’ve ever heard. Japanese games aren’t the luckiest when it comes to getting American voice actors to translate and stand in, but the game had me in tears of laughter and unadulterated mirth within the first level. It’s the little things that keep you going.

In short, Tomba 2 is still a great game. It stacks up pretty well against other PS1 classics, and everything still feels lovingly crafted and solid from most angles. While it does feel a bit shorter and sillier now, I still have fond memories and I am glad to know those memories aren’t just blinded in nostalgia.

If you’ve never played, give it a shot if the chance ever arrives (or your Japanese is pretty good).

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