HomeReviewsREVIEW | An Elephant Never Forgets To Be A "Badass"

REVIEW | An Elephant Never Forgets To Be A "Badass"

In my life I've seen and heard elephants march, fly, create works of art, help back a swinging jazz ensemble, and consume Vampire Weekend frontman Ezra Koenig for his own greedy reasons. But being a hero of justice and thwarting all that crosses its path? Well that's something I thought I would never be a witness to. Thankfully the guys at Game Freak (Pokémon series) and SEGA have teamed up to create such a crazy concept that will quickly win gamers over: Tembo the Badass Elephant.

Shell City is under attack by a mysterious force known as Phantom. Citizens are being kidnapped, and areas once thought of as trouble-free are now being overtaken by soldiers and tanks. With no other alternative the army calls in their finest warrior: Tembo the Badass Elephant! As our hero roams across the city taking out the enemies, the secrets behind who runs Phantom slowly peer through the fog.

Players take control of Tembo, who uses his strength to his advantage. You can dash, slide, punch, spray, and slam your way through enemies and machinery, using your smarts to find their biggest weaknesses. As you roam through each level ten panicky citizens can be found for you to collect and ride on your hero's back. (Their faces scream of joy as you dart through the levels, as if they're being taken on the best roller coaster ride of their lives.) Controlling Tembo is a breeze, thanks to an easy layout that never leaves your hands tied up in knots.

If there's one thing that Tembo isn't, it's sluggish. Even though he is a warrior of massive proportions this elephant has much in common with his hedgehog cousin Sonic. Running through the areas Tembo can take out just about anything he comes across, and with a jump and a press of a button he can spin through the air and whomp his enemies with the greatest of ease. However unlike Sonic his vice doesn't come in the form of a golden ring, but a tasty peanut snack. Collecting 300 of these crunchy treats will earn Tembo some peanut butter, which serves as a placeholder for lives.

In some areas speed won't be the only thing you need to be victorious. A fine-tuned brain shall be required in order to take on some tricky jumps and puzzles that lie in waiting for you within the vicinity. Sometimes it'll be an obvious answer, such as a giant bowling ball that is key to squashing some bothersome tanks and soldiers that wait for your arrival. Other occasions will have you using your eyes to map out the best jump strategy, especially those that feature pinball bumpers that can either help or hurt your plan.

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Tembo the Badass Elephant succeeds at being one amazingly fun game. Watching your hero run over soldiers and stomping on tanks doesn't get tiresome, as each area you'll come across will require totally different techniques to solve. The game starts off relatively easy, especially with a laughably simple boss battle that tail-ends the first area. However the further your tusked hero runs the more trouble the enemies will be giving him. There will be times where you will keep on losing, forcing you to restart a level from scratch. It can be frustrating, yes, but the more you lose the better your strategy will become, getting you closer towards a perfect run each time.

Watching the game in action feels like you're taking control of an interactive cartoon. I couldn't help but think of Regular Show and Uncle Grandpa as I had Tembo cause so much heroic chaos, as his demeanor and looks felt straight out of one of those two series. It wouldn't be too big of a surprise if Game Freak took a page out of one of these shows to create such a unique character. (On a side-note, despite its Teen rating, Tembo the Badass Elephant should be appropriate for anyone who watches either of these cartoons.)

Not everything is flawless with Game Freak's latest title. In a couple areas Tembo would get stuck in his ground slam, forcing him between two objects with no way of getting him out. In order to get around this bug I wound up having to sacrifice one of my lives (or peanut butter jars, if you wanna get technical). Another similar situation had me stuck at the end of a conveyor belt, which would sometimes lead me to getting shot by a nearby tank or helicopter. While these flaws are small, they can be irksome when you're down to your final life and are seemingly near the end of the level.

The other drawback to Tembo the Badass Elephant is its replay value. My completion time was at around five hours, which is a fair-enough length for a downloadable title. However once you complete a level with all citizens rescued and baddies taken out there is really nothing else to go back to. A shame, as even something like an online leaderboard with the all-around best times would have added a sort of competitive aspect to the game.

PROS:

  • Incredibly fun gameplay
  • Cool cartoonish look
  • Fine blend of puzzle and platforming elements

CONS:

  • A couple graphical hiccups
  • Lack of replay value

FINAL THOUGHTS:

Despite its short length Tembo the Badass Elephant is an exciting and fun video game that just about anyone should be a witness to. Sure it's an incredibly silly premise, but with there being a bit too many games that want to be taken seriously it's good to be able to let your brain take a breather and enjoy some goofy gameplay. Plus when's the next time you'll see a pachyderm kick so much butt? Sharpen your tusks and sound your trunk, because Tembo is ready for you to join him in one heroic battle!

FINAL GRADE: 9.0 (out of ten)

Xbox One review code provided by John Hardin of SEGA of America

Originally posted on the ESH EGMNOW page

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Contributing Editor at ESH since 2008, and host of the No Borders No Race podcast show, which began as a humble college radio program in 2006. My passion for discovering new bands, developers, and Japanese pop culture is what drives me to give you my all in every article published and every podcast recorded.