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Teppo and The Secret Ancient City Review

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There’s something about Teppo that is unshakingly familiar. Perhaps he just looks like your stereotypical adventurer (no I’m not talking about Indiana Jones), but I feel like I’ve seen him pop up in games before. Anyhow, much like with the main man, you’ll know exactly what you’re getting in Teppo and The Secret Ancient City.

All together at the back now. It’s a retro style platformer! I have, in all honesty, ran out of ways to describe these games, there are plenty of them out there now. Teppo and The Secret Ancient City is a fairly short tale, which will take you a couple of hours or so to beat. Still, this is about right given the reasonable price tag.

Teppo and The Secret Ancient City Review 1
Indy, is that you?

The action takes place across five levels, which are spread across different biomes. Despite the attempts to differentiate, each still feels similar to the last, albeit with a different colour palette and a couple of new enemies chucked in for good measure. This reflects how Teppo and The Secret Ancient City looks in general, which is fine. It’s nothing special, perhaps because of a real fatigue on my part with this choice of style. It’s been done to death.

The main menu won’t be winning any awards anytime soon however, because it looks as if it’s been washed over with a pixelated filter. Thankfully this style choice is limited only to here, because it doesn’t look good at all. Not a great first impression. The soundtrack isn’t too bad which is good news, despite being pretty limited. It will soon loop around again and again, but it’s quite catchy so it shouldn’t wind you up too much.

Teppo himself is a straightforward fella, possessing the ability to double jump as well as wield a boomerang, chuck bombs and fire a rifle. That’s about it in terms of the platforming, but the weapons need to be discovered as you play. You’ll get a bit of practice in early doors though, thanks to a short tutorial section at the start.

Each level is fairly sizable for a platformer, and sectioned off by stone doors. Switches are hidden throughout, but they don’t open the way forward in a linear fashion. There is some backtracking needed, but it’s nothing comparable to a Metroidvania game. In fairness, they are well mapped out and it’s more satisfying than simply moving from the left to the right of your screen.

Teppo and The Secret Ancient City Review 2
You’ll find some decently sized levels

There are several hundred diamond stones to be collected also. The snag is, you’ll need to hit a certain percentage to unlock the exit portal. Of course, there is extra Gamerscore on offer if you collect them all. There’s a target amount to exit the level, a total amount displayed on your screen, and in some levels I was able to collect even more than that. I didn’t quite understand how, but I still got my achievements so hey-ho. 

More interestingly, enemies can’t be killed but can only temporarily stunned instead. You can jump on their head, like a famous moustached hero, or use your weapons instead. They will remain in this state until you move away from them, at which point they will respawn and resume their villainous business. 

You start off with a generous amount of lives, and can suffer several hits before losing one. Hearts and 1UPs can be found scattered around the levels too. Thankfully, there are also save points (although the distribution feels inconsistent) which retain your progress even if you lose all of your lives and end up at the “Game Over” screen. However if this happens you’ll only come back with one life. Given the length of the game, I was expecting to have to start all over again, but with a full complement of lives. It feels like an odd choice, and the later levels do offer a little more challenge but not enough to justify this decision.

On the subject of difficulty, Teppo and The Secret Ancient City pulls a few sneaky moves that feel unfair at times. Partly because of the drab visuals, falling blocks and spikes were shrouded and caught me out leaving no time to react to them. Or rotating traps would suddenly become visible just before bonking me on the head. Maybe it’s just my eyes, but I ended up frustrated. Another annoyance comes in the form of Teppo’s seeming inability to jump as quickly as I was bashing buttons. If I was too late to react and hit the jump button whilst I was positioned right on the edge of a ledge, he would run straight off. I quickly realised I needed to react earlier, but that’s difficult when hazards come at you with little to no warning.

Teppo and The Secret Ancient City Review 3
Skellys!

There are a couple of minecart segments thrown in to split the levels up, which despite bearing a striking resemblance to Donkey Kong Country, are good fun. Otherwise, big bad Tanaca Wanax is waiting for you at the end of the game in the first and final boss battle. This is, however, a disappointingly simple encounter, where you need to dodge the enemies he summons whilst striking him with your weapons. He is protected by a ring of diamond stones, however it seems he will only take damage at certain points in his movement pattern, because I scored direct hits whilst he was moving several times with no result. It felt pretty lazy, and an anti-climax given how much of a threat the opening scroll of text made him out to be.

This is a general feeling I couldn’t shake throughout Teppo and The Secret Ancient City if I’m honest. Unfortunately, the elaborate narrative writes a cheque that it can’t quite cash. The setup sounds great but has very little consequence on your experience in the game. It’s a by the numbers platformer whose every beat is predictable, ideas taken from staples of the genre.

On the whole, Teppo and The Secret Ancient City is an average platformer that doesn’t do anything drastically wrong, but fails to stand out from the crowd.

SUMMARY

Pros:
  • Tight, well designed levels
  • Easy Gamerscore
  • Reasonably priced
Cons:
  • Tried and tested ideas
  • Disappointing boss battle
  • Doesn’t take long to beat
Info:
  • Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, TotalConsole
  • Formats - Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One (review)
  • Release date and price - 30 January 2024 | £6.69
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Darren Edwards
Darren Edwards
I have been playing games since a very early age, thanks to my Dad's encouragement. I've been an Xbox gamer since the very beginning, the Master Chief is to thank for that. I'm also a big Nintendo geek, and my other half is a PlayStation nut. I'll play pretty much anything in any genre (although FIFA and COD maybe pushing it).
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<b>Pros:</b> <ul> <li>Tight, well designed levels</li> <li>Easy Gamerscore</li> <li>Reasonably priced</li> </ul> <b>Cons:</b> <ul> <li>Tried and tested ideas</li> <li>Disappointing boss battle</li> <li>Doesn’t take long to beat</li> </ul> <b>Info:</b> <ul> <li>Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, TotalConsole<///li> <li>Formats - Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One (review) <li>Release date and price - 30 January 2024 | £6.69</li> </ul>Teppo and The Secret Ancient City Review
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