In a March 2000 interview with the game's art director Tokuro Fujiwara published in the Tomba! The Wild Adventure manga, he was asked how the original Tomba!'s development began. Fujiwara stated that when he was making the characters, the first picture that came to his head was of an "energetic, spirited guy." Powerful, mischievous, and full of pep, all put into one character. When he looked back to his first rough sketches, he was struck by Tomba's half-human and half-animal appearance, and that creating him as a half-naked feral child was a very smooth, natural process.
The reason why the title name "Tomba!" was changed to "Tombi!" in the European version, was because in Italy tomba means tomb (as in tombstone).