I feel like the guys at gamefreak have been pretty bold to decide to create this game. They’re renowned from being the fathers of the pokemon franchise and this game couldn’t be more different from those “family friendly” rpgs. That being said, that’s not really the reason why I think they’ve been bold. When you dare to define your character as badass, you’re setting people’s expectations pretty high. Could they really make a chubby elephant be badass? Read the review to find out.
Tembo: The badass elephant is a pretty straightforward 2.5D platformer. In the game, you take control of a soldier elephant which is commanded the task to defend Shell City from a huge army named the phantom. To do so, you just have to traverse every level in the typical platforming fashion, destroying as many enemies as you can and also saving hostages on the way.
Elephants may not be known for their agility but certainly Tembo has the offensive capabilities to succeed in such a challenging mission. He doesn’t only jump, he can dash ramming every enemy on its way, he can buttstomp, he can uppercut enemies, he can absorb water into his trunk to then shoot it back, he can turn himself into some sort of bouncing meat-missile as he jumps and then propels himself down to his enemies… You’ll have to see it to believe it.
Despite the amount of moves your character can perform, the game really just uses three buttons and its combinations with the directional imputs to differenciate every movement. It works great and you’ll learn each one quite fast, even if in the heat of the battle you might get nervious and confuse one movement with another but I can’t blame the game for that.
The game is a joy to look at. It’s cartoony style really pops up on the screen. The design of tembo, the enemy army and the levels all have been developed with care and it shows. Tembo deserves a saturday morning cartoon or something.
The soundtrack, reminiscent of the classic 2D platformers as the rest of the game, boasts some catchy tunes but always trying to keep a military vibe to them.
Things I liked
- Level Design: Not only the way they look but how the way they built the levels themselves. Multiple paths, hidden secrets, some puzzles and specially the variety they fit in each level. Making the best use of the skills of your tusked protagonist.
- Controls: The “handling” of tembo was deeper than I expected. Making a smart use of just a few buttons they give the elephant a pretty wide set of skills that result very useful in the levels and, when you finally master tembo’s moveset, you really feel like a badass.
- Visuals: Cel-shaded graphics at its best. The game is very colorful and absolutely gorgeous, specially in motion.
Things I didn’t
- Artificial padding: The game has some sort of “barriers” before each bossfight level that demand you to reach a certain score before it lets you tackle that level. The only reason why they implemented this mechanic is to hide the fact that if you just rushed each level avoiding enemies and hostages, the game would end very soon (and it still is a short game anyway).
Who’d like this?
While I was playing it, Tembo reminded me a lot of the also great Rayman Origins. For fans of classic 2D platformers this little downloadable title should be a must have. Yes, it’s on the short side but the gameplay is simply stellar.
Parents beware though because behind this kid-friendly graphical style, the game is actually quite a challenge.
<This review is based of the ps4 version of the game but the game is also available on other platforms>