Title: Tembo The Badass Elephant
Platform: PC, PS4 and Xbox One (reviewed)
Developer: Game Freak
Release date: Out Now
tl;dr: Imagine Donkey Kong an elephant
Price: $15 / £10 / €12
Family Focus: Click here for more information.
Tembo The Badass Elephant features Tembo, an elephant with various special skills, on a journey to rescue the metropolis known as the Shell City from an invading evil army simply known as Phantom. In any true hero fashion, our heroic pachyderm needs to save as many civilians as possible in his quest to take down the mysterious army.
The game is a 2D platforming affair where players need to make it from A to B while saving civilians and taking down enemy forces. The game encourages exploration, as some civilians are hidden throughout each level, so if players want to find them all, they’ll need to search. In order to help our hero search every nook and cranny, Tembo can dash, jump, float, stomp through and around obstacles to reach the obligatory boss at the end of every level.
Thankfully, the game does feature a decent variety of enemies; soldiers come in different flavors in order to make things hard for our noble and large mammal. There are generic soldiers that’ll be easily plowed through by dashing through them. Some of the foot soldiers will provide a bit of resistance by either carrying a large sword, flamethrower or even a spike-filled shield simply tackling them from behind will quickly take care of them. The evil army also has tanks and flying flame balls at its disposal; tanks will require a few hits before blowing up, but if you get hit by their flaming shots, Tembo will take massive damage. Balls of flames can be extinguished by Tembo’s trunk, while blue ones will regenerate after a few seconds.
As players rip through enemy forces, they’ll also collect peanuts. Collected peanuts fill out a peanut butter jar on the left hand side of the screen, which when full, rewards players with an extra life. Players first start off with three lives, but the more peanuts they’ll collect, the more lives they’ll have in reserve. Once tackling an easy level, it is important to collect as many peanuts as possible in order to save up a bevy of extras for tougher challenges that lie ahead.
My main gripe with the game is that it requires level replays. See, in order to make it through further into the overworld map, players must reach a certain score of enemies killed. Fail to reach that magical total, and players are required to go through levels once more in order to take down more enemies. It can be pretty a frustrating challenge, so having to go through those once more can be irritating.
The game will also lure players into a false sense of security. While the first few levels are perfectly balanced, the difficulty ramps quickly making things a bit frustrating for younger players.
Our titular character has two speeds: slow ass walking and the aforementioned dashing. The issue with the latter is that trying to do platforming sequence can lead to frustration, as players will often jump too far or too high to reach the next ledge. On the other hand, walking and floating makes the game move at a sluggish pace; trying to move quickly by constantly dashing and bouncing around will make the character much harder to control, causing accidental and frustrating deaths.
The 2D visuals are very well done. Audio wise, the game features a generic uninspired (and often barely audible) score which fits the game’s setting and action adequately, but unlike classic 2D games, chances are no one will be humming this soundtrack in 5-10 years. As far as the visuals go, the game looks pretty good, however lacking detail-wise. Enemy soldiers, for example, are very tiny and despite some of their weaponry, they don’t differ all that much from one another. It has a certain cartoonish flair,< making me want to watch a Tembo anime instead of playing a game.
Despite the game’s minor faults, Tembo The Badass Elephant is a great investment for those looking for a challenge or wanting enjoy some classic 2D action. Plowing through obstacles and enemies as Tembo makes it enjoyable for everyone in the family. Older gamers can experience the same type of challenge they grew up with games like Donkey Kong Country, and younger gamers can try something different than shooter with infinite lives.
- Classic gameplay reminiscent of Donkey Kong Country
- Challenging, not frustrating but…
- …difficulty ramps up pretty quickly
- Having to replay levels to progress forward is a pain
Tembo The Badass Elephant is rated E10+ for Everyone over 10 years old, as it features fantasy violence and mild language.
This review is based on a retail copy of the game provided by Xbox UK