When I saw Tomba! 2: The Evil Swine Return on the shelf at my local game store, I figured I would give it a shot to see if it was as good as I remembered it being. Although it is a simple game, and despite its problems, Tomba 2 proved to be an enjoyable game. The premise is pretty basic: your childhood friend or girlfriend or something has disappeared, and there are evil pigs who may or may not be involved in her disappearance.
The story progresses as you move through the game, meeting new people in each town and area. As you progress, you collect new weapons and such to help you. Often a new costume or item will allow you access to an area you couldn’t get to before, or you may be able to reach and open a chest that you couldn’t before. There is a lot of backtracking involved in getting everything, but fortunately the game provides plenty of “Magic Wings” that allow you to transport instantly to any location you’ve visited.
The game progresses through missions—as you travel and explore the areas, you will discover new objectives and puzzles to solve. Some of them are pretty basic, but as the game continues they become a little more difficult. None of the puzzles will fry your brain, but some of them definitely took me a bit to figure out. There are a ton of missions in the game, which extends the game’s replay value a lot. Some of the optional missions are frustratingly difficult. For example, there is one mission that has you racing down a track in a cart to deliver cement before it sets in a certain amount of time. The first time through, the objective is easy, but the second time is quite difficult. I got frustrated and gave up a number of times before I finally got it. Also, I felt like some of the missions gave me no hint on where I needed to go. It was almost like chance whether I happened to be in the right place to complete it. The game has a listing of all the missions you’ve started and completed, which helps, but with so many objectives in the game it’s easy to forget what you’re doing.
The gameplay is pretty basic. The controls could perhaps be a bit more responsive, but on the other hand the loose controls sort of fit with the nature of the game. However, I definitely got frustrated at some points in the game where the jumps were difficult to make and for some reason, the character didn’t grab the ledge. Another problem comes from the fact that this game is a 2D platformer, but at branch points on the path you have the option to move in 3D, back and forth on the screen. Generally this works just fine, but occasionally it was difficult to select the right path.
As far as sound goes, the game is a definite mixed bag. Each of the characters you meet talks back, and the voice acting is passable, if somewhat generic. Some of the characters are so over-exaggerated that it’s laughable, but this fits with the wacky nature of the game. On the other hand, the music is very repetitive and will get on your nerves after a while.
Graphically, the game looks quite good for its time. The colors are vibrant and the backgrounds look good. There is plenty of variety in the scenery and enemies. On the other hand, there isn’t a whole lot of diversity in the character models. The animations are funny and work well.
Overall, Tomba! 2: The Evil Swine Return is a worthy title for the PlayStation. Recommended to anyone who likes platformers, and who isn’t turned off by off-the-wall wackiness. It’ll definitely keep you busy for a long time, although you will probably want to turn the sound off after a while.