Ooooooooooooo…Nellie the Elephant packed her trunk and said goodbye to the circus, off she went with a trumpety-trump, trump, trump, trump. Nellie the Elephant packed her trunk and trundled back to the jungle. Tembo on the other hand went to war, saving a city in the process.
Now, which of our two trunk waving heroes would a videogame stand more chance of success with?
Yep, Tembo is the winner every single time; at least in the elephant stakes. But what we really want to know is whether Tembo the Badass Elephant actually translates well into a 2D platformer, or should Game Freak and SEGA have piled their money on Nellie instead?
When Shell City is sent into a state of emergency and the National Army struggle to defend it against the forces of the evil PHANTOM, there really is only one man to call. And he’s not even a man. Although I’m pretty certain he thinks he is.
Tembo the Elephant gets drafted in Rambo style to save Shell City from utter obliteration, even if in the process he does manage to destroy more of the city on his own than an entire PHANTOM army could even dream of. Feed him peanuts though and he’ll be game for anything and that thought transpires to make a decent new platformer.
With most of the levels set in a standard left to right scrolling fashion, Tembo will need to use his delightful jump ability to transcend between platforms, floating at times with comicly fast moving legs to help him reach those which need a bit of thinking about. With the option to dash and bash his way through near on anything that is placed in front of him, he’ll need to clear each stage of the enemy forces by powering his way through and stopping them from causing utter destruction. But the dash isn’t Tembo’s only form of attack with him able to take to the skies, curling up into a ball and pinging his way between objects like a powerball becoming a highly effective method of attack. This is however occasionally a pain as the line between precise dash and manic spinning is a thin one; one that is crossed just a few too many times when you’re attempting to get Tembo to do as he is told. This can result in frustrating deaths at the most inopportune of moments, sending you back through tricky sections once too often.
Thankfully the checkpoints in place ensure that not too much harm is done, but when you use up a vital Peanut Butter life point (yep, elephants just LOVE peanut butter) due to poor controls rather than lack of player skill, then something is just wrong. There is also a little frustration in using Tembo’s secret water squirting trunk with the water at times just not doing the job it was made for. We live in a world where we are encouraged to not waste water but Tembo obviously doesn’t understand the issues over climate change. This is never more true than when going up against the very first boss in the game, something which very nearly made me decide to quit the game on numerous occasions. Eventually I managed to battle my way through, but I’m pretty certain that was more down to random luck than Tembo’s trunk skills.
Tembo the Badass Elephant positively thrives in the process of replayability though and odds are that if you wish to 100% complete the game, picking up each and every achievement, saving each and every civilian and destroying the entire PHANTOM army, then you’ll need to have thrown a huge number of hours into it. In fact, just to unlock the majority of the game you’ll find yourself going back and forth over numerous levels in an attempt to collect enough peanut points and clear out enough of the PHANTOM army in order to unlock the next stage. That means hitting the standard soldiers hard, ramming tanks until they explode and upper-cutting helicopters to your hearts content. Even when you’ve concluded a level, if you’ve just blasted your way through without a care in the world then you’ll most probably find your way ahead blocked. Each section comes complete with multiple hidden areas containing the hardest to reach objectives, but it is never felt to be a chore to search them out. Granted, there aren’t an awful lot of stages for you to send Tembo through, but with the need to go back, destroying more of the enemy in order to unlock them all, the optimum number of stages do seem to have been included. The fact you can also check out your times and success rates against friends and those from around the world is just an added little bonus.
There isn’t really anything new being added to the platforming genre with Tembo the Badass Elephant, but it is still a damn fine game. Visually it is lovely with bold, bright colours, and comic book style whams and bams accompanying the well detailed, fast flowing graphics which take hold at all times. It’s not perfect however and the controls really do take some getting used to. Once you’ve mastered the dashing and rolling and are prepared to experience the odd manic sections where things never go right and that teased platform seems just out of reach, then you’ll have a great time dishing out justice to PHANTOM. Many may find the need to replay levels numerous times in order to obtain enough points to unlock the latter ones a bit of a spoil, but it does at least allow you the chance to check out previously undiscovered sections and save a few more civilians in the process. We can’t have innocent bystanders left scarred by the PHANTOM menace and the way that they jump onto Tembo’s back as they get taken to safety is a genuinely genius idea.
Tembo may not have the instant appeal of a Mario, Sonic or even a Crash Bandicoot, but give him time and we could well be seeing the next videogame superstar in the making. Game Freak just need to sort out a few little issues and then they should be on to a massive winner.
See ya some other time Nellie!