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PlayStation Network gives Tomba a second look

Some video game developers just seem to have been dealt a bad hand, but few have luck as bad as Whoopee Camp. The company made two late 90s Playstation games: Tomba, and its not-quite-as-good-but-still-solid sequel. Critics loved both games, but audiences ignored them, and the company went bust in 2000 after only three years of existence.

The real bummer came later that year, when the Playstation 2 arrived. Tomba fans soon learned a dirty little secret about the PS2: the backward compatibility was not as perfect as advertised. It's true! Sony has a small list available of nine PSX games that do not work on PS2, and Tomba sits right at the bottom of it. The game is unplayable on everything but an original PSX, and that's assuming you can get a copy. Just the demo for Tomba costs more than a full priced PS3 game on eBay, and if you want the whole thing, you're going to be dishing out literally hundreds of dollars. Besides, do you even have your original Playstation anymore?

But last week, all of this changed.

Playstation Network has now released Tomba in all of its batshit insane glory for only 10 bucks. This is great news for so many reasons.

First of all? Well, Tomba is perfect. You'd be hard pressed to find a more charming, fun, challenging, and innovative game. Remember how much people loved Fez? Tomba did that, but better, and over a decade ago. Tokuro Fujiwara, creator of Megaman and Ghosts and Goblins, is the mind behind Tomba's brilliance (I owe this man my entire childhood).

This side scrolling adventure about a pink haired boy battling evil pigs manages to be creative and bizarre without alienating its audience. That's in part because the game retains a childlike sweetness throughout (the objective of the 100+ quests always seem related to helping people affected by the pigs), but also because the game's finely tuned gameplay pulls you in with visually stunning colors and character design. Plus, it's great to play a game that can appeal to kids and can also be controller-breakingly challenging. If you think Tomba's a kiddie game, wait till the Phoenix Mountain area hands you your ass ten or twenty times in a row.

Tomba is a masterpiece, but it's redundant to even say so, since critics told us that back when this underappreciated gem came out, alongside better-known late-90s favorites like Final Fantasy VII and GoldenEye. It's not news that Tomba is great, but the fact that PSN paid attention to what fans wanted and actually followed through is a good sign.

Tomba isn't the only game that's hard to find, it's not the only game that costs as much as an entire console, and (hopefully) it won't be a lucky fluke that PSN released it. There are so many other rare gems that Sony and Microsoft should re-release, like Megaman Legends 2, Ikaruga, Misadventures of Tron Bonne, and Gitaroo Man (imagine if PaRappa the Rapper and Scott Pilgrim had a baby). Those titles are stuck being rare, half-remembered cult classics when they could be successful downloadable games.

The re-release trend has had a good start so far with Tomba, Marvel vs. Capcom 2, and Microsoft's touched-up tribute to the classic 90s shmup Radiant Silvergun, but why not do more? If these re-releases succeed, then companies might finally catch on and put out more rare titles that deserve a second shot at widespread fame.

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