Tama (Saturn): Adventurous Ball in Giddy Labyrinth

Long time no see! Apologies for the lax posting schedule recently, I’ve been busy with deadlines and whatnot. Today though I’m talking about Tama, a Japan-only launch game for the Saturn. That’s twenty years ago now – 1994. Wow.

As you might expect for a launch game, Tama is a barebones package. There’s only one mode, the main game, and it provides some fun and simple gameplay. Rather than bore everyone by talking about the mechanics of a simple ball-in-a-maze game that plays like a cross between Camel Try and Marble Madness, I offer you Tama’s bizarre opening cutscene.

tama saturn1

Introducing the International Space Station (centre) and the galaxy-famous International Space Station Staircase (left). background: nameless globulous mass.

tama saturn2

All NASA’s tireless work down the drain…at least the staircase remains-

GAAARRGGGGHHH

GAAARRGGGGHHH

Meanwhile, on Planet Blue Balls...

Meanwhile, on Microsoft Paint Planet…

Blue ball by day, property investment tycoon by night.

My eyes deceive me. We’re clearly on Planet Blue Balls. Meet Pizza: blue ball by day, property investment tycoon by night. He’s had his eye on a castle north of his residence for quite a while.

tama saturn7

In that respect this is a story about what even a small blue ball can achieve with enough ambition.

Meanwhile, in the sky...

Meanwhile, in the sky…

Pizza loves this tree.

Pizza made it to third base under this tree once.

Bye tree.

Bye tree.

Meanwhile...

Meanwhile, in the sky…

This makes NO SENSE

This makes NO SENSE.

tama saturn14

…this doesn’t make any more sense. I’ve seriously dwelled on this issue. This is clearly much bigger than your average physics engine identity crisis. Hang on, I can see something strange…

An invisible friend? I was gradually able to fill in the details...

An invisible friend? Keep squinting, more details are emerging!

Hands, a belly button...

Hands, a belly button…

Nooooooooooo

A crop-top, jeans and….oh my god

wHaT tHe HeLl

“DaMn YoU pIzZa!!!! DaMn YoU tO hElL!!!!”

That's better.

Meanwhile…a brief respite from the slavery-soaked life of Pizza. And none of those pesky clouds blocking the view of Pizza’s many acres. Speaking of which, how much do peninsula properties in the area typically go for these days, Pizza?

Whoa.

Sorry I asked, mate,  I can see you’ve got bigger things on your plate! What’s a ball to do?

Oh my...

The invisible slave’s years of praying to God are finally paying off.

tama saturn22

Ouch. What’s that going to do to property prices in the area? That’s got to be a bit of a sore spot for some folks. (Geddit?? 😀 😀 😀 )

tama saturn23

This...is...Tama...

What an opening! Comedy, drama, romance…

If you leave your name blank in the name entry sequence, you find out the ball's real name...

And that’s only the start of Pizza’s journey. First off, with the help of a crystal ball (“Us spheres got to stick together, know what I’m saying?”) we’ve got to help Pizza weather the property market and find a buyer for that castle. Then defy the odds on net gains by exploiting seven other improbable property markets. Moving clockwise: arctic village, haunted graveyard, creaky ruins, nothing, New England, landscape painting, desert.

Now we find the true purpose of Pizza's mission - to retrieve his missing seesaw!

Solve the mystery of Pizza’s missing seesaw! Could the invisible slave (who we know had a grudge against Pizza) have something to do with it?

This review’s over. And if at the end of it all you’re as confused as I am, check out the opening cutscene for yourself.

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2 comments

  1. Reset Tears

    Looks like you had a ball with this one!
    Also, holy crap, those 3D graphics! Is this the future of gaming?

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