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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