Real Talk By KJ
Tembo The Badass Elephant (PS4, XO, PC) is developed by Game Freak, the folks who brought us Pokemon. Sega is handling publishing duties. This was inspired heavily by retro side-scrolling titles. Go from point A to B with boss fights in-between. Though this concept is familiar, our hero is unique. The Evil militia known as PHANTOM is wreaking havoc. Fortunately The National Guard brings in one awesome mammal. Being an elephant has some cool advantages. Pulverize objects with your tusks. Trample enemies. Spray robots with water. All learned abilities will be used in different ways to eliminate foes. For example, the impact of a Jump and slam move will flip over an armored solider, leaving them exposed.
Collect peanuts. Getting enough fills up the jar, in-turn gives Tembo another life. He can take only a few hits before death. Checkpoints are balanced, making players go through a decent amount of a level before hitting one. It never becomes unreasonable. Refreshing to have a game in 2015 take the training wheels off just a bit. While the game seems to encourage blazing through, doing so may hurt your progression.
The game is monitoring how many enemies defeated in a stage. Players will find themselves locked out of levels if the grand total hasn’t been met. This certainly adds more length to the campaign. In standard stages Prisoners of War are hidden throughout. You don’t have to catch them all, as the focus is on the PHANTOM Soldiers. It’s the combination of getting every enemy and POW together that will give a completionist something to look forward to. Next is the Boss battles. Each has a method of attack which has to be studied. They give a nice change of pace from the typical action. All the fights are doable. Nothing crazy.
The Artwork reminded us of a modern Cartoon Network series in motion. Some interesting character designs. Background music gets the job done. You will hear certain songs a lot. Sound effects are great. Tembo’s Elephant sounds paired with the destruction works well.
The best way to describe the feel of the controls; Take Rambi The Rhino segments from Donkey Kong Country and expand on it. The pace seems to match those parts in DKC. The destruction part of the game is so fun, it could have even been expanded. A little more is what this game needs. Tembo has cool abilities and such. Thing is, what you learn and use in the tutorial stage, is what you’ll do for the span of the game. Perhaps turret sequences, or a flying section if a sequel is made. Upgradable attributes maybe? The fun level layouts, secret areas, and chase scenes save it from feeling repetitive. Still, it feels like our hero is being held back.
The attack button is used in conjunction with many other moves. This makes simple tasks tougher when in a bind. Jumping and hitting the attack button starts a Sonic-style downward spin move. However Holding the attack button, then moving left or right on the Control stick allows Tembo to run faster. The wrong combination input can really mess you up. I’ve meant to dash then jump to the next plateau, only to roll instead. Using the D-Pad instead will alleviate the stress.
On your first play through expect to beat the game in under 4 hours. Since the length and replay value is a bit lacking, $14.99 feels a tad high. However those who take the plunge are still investing into a world filled with potential. I would love to see Game Freak come back with a sequel. Let’s give Tembo more cool abilities, and add post game content.
Tembo The Badass Elephant Gets
3.5 Out of 5
+The Art Style
+Fun Level Design
-Controls Could be Tighter
-Long Loading Screen before every boot-up