BFTP: Tombi! (Playstation)

Posted July 19, 2012 by Andrew Murray in Editorial

Tombi’s a strange one. It’s a game that never racked up decent sales, yet is bizarrely put on some kind of pedestal by gamers around the globe. If you ever venture over to the official Sony blog, you’ll notice a significant number of comments from people every week demanding this game be put up on the EU Playstation Store.

As of yet it isn’t there, although MonkeyPaw games have teased the prospect. Because the game didn’t sell well it goes for highly inflated prices on eBay, with gamers-a-plenty trying to snare a copy. A few months ago I noticed someone had popped a reviewers copy of the game up on the site. I’ve no doubt one of the reasons people pay so much for Tombi is that there’s a huge collectors market for it alongside the people who genuinely just want to play the game. But collectors don’t care about review copies…and I picked it up for the tidy sum of £27.

Now, I don’t know how savvy you dear readers are with why Tombi has achieved such a cult status – if you’re not from the PS1 era (then I’m definitely getting old…) you won’t know that a demo disk would come with the console called Demo One. Tombi appeared on that, and the demo version of it was absolutely fantastic. It was funny, quirky, unique and rather charming. Most importantly it was great fun and absolutely left you wanting more.

Sadly no T-Rex tech demo on the PS1 demo disc.

I wasn’t able to get a hold of the full game during that time, but when my eBay copy of the game arrived I was rubbing my hands with glee. I popped it in my console, sat down, relaxed and started playing. It was just as I remembered. The cheery music, that great intro from the demo…gaming bliss…that is, until, the section of the game that appeared in the demo was over. I’m assuming a good number of you have played demo one, but probably never had the chance to experience the full game. I strongly recommend you be patient and wait for its seemingly inevitable PSN release, rather than venture onto eBay. After the initial fun intro the game ramps up a gear in difficulty. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t about me struggling with a game I found “too hard” – but there’s an archaeic “life” system in place, and some frustratingly placed enemies and obstacles that will mean you almost certainly will find yourself dying fairly often.

An even bigger problem is the complete lack of direction. You know your primary goal – to find your Grampa’s bracelet. But after the part of the game that’s demoed you don’t really get any instructions bar ridiculously vague hints as to what you need to do next. There are multiple subquests you’ll find by picking up various items, you’ll then be alerted to the fact you’ve found a subquest, but only by the quest title. For example, you pick up a frog and you get the note “take me home.” But where is home? Probably a pond…but where’s the pond? How do you get there?

 I actually completed that quest in the end, but there are loads of times I just found myself wandering aimlessly trying to figure out what to do next. I spent well over an hour on one section, just trying to find that next quest prompt that I needed to move forward. I explored and hunted to try and find my next main quest piece and after much ground-retreading I figured out what I needed to do.

Tombi isn’t a bad game, don’t get me wrong. It’s an average one and I suspect reviews at the time reflected that which is possibly why it wasn’t a sales success. It starts fantastically and if the makers had managed to keep up that kind of fun RPG-cum-platformer vibe it could have been a bonafide classic. There’s enjoyment to be had in Tombi, just not £80 worth of fun from eBay. You can wait for this game, get it on PSN for a reasonable price when it’s out, and spend your hard-earned pennies on something else rather than an over-priced and over-hyped internet auction buy.

About the Author

Andrew Murray

A long-time gamer, particularly keen on the retro side of things - although I do love my PS Vita and a bit of Fallout 3 to boot.