Tembo the Badass Elephant on the PlayStation 4 is a fun game that never shies away from the fact that it is fairly generic. The art style is interesting and Tembo is a fun character. There’s a lot of fun to be had here if you are willing to just let loose.
- DualShock 4
Required Disk Space:
- 988MB Minimum
- Digital Download
Average Playing Time:
- 12 Hours
Tembo the Badass Elephant came to the Xbox One, PC, and PS4 by way of Gamefreak this past July. The game was developed by the company behind the legendary gaming franchise Pokemon but it looks to distance itself from that rather wholesome RPG title with a vengeance. Tembo is a gigantic elephant who stars in this side scrolling 2D adventurer. With a focus on humor and fun platforming action, Tembo proudly wears its roots on its trunk. The game never stops to take itself seriously and the platforming sequences are some of the most fun we’ve had in the last year or so with the genre. In a day and age where so many companies are taking the genre series, it’s nice to see GameFreak go the other way. We picked up a copy for our PS4 and dove into the zany action.
Tembo is an elephant that was once used in war. Now he’s been called back into action, out of his comfortable retirement, in order to help the people of Shell City push back against a nefarious invading force known as the Phantom Army. Tempo has to fight his way through soldiers, big bad bosses, and even mech warrior type creations in order to free his people. The action is over the top, cartoonish, and zany in all the right places and it will take you all over an array of colorful maps. Your goal is simple here, outside of killing every bad guy in your way, you are tasked with destroying three important drones that Phantom has put up over the city. Tembo goes into elephant Rambo mode in order to accomplish this fact, using an impressive array of weapons along the way.
Tembo the Badass Elephant is easily one of the most bizarre games we have ever played and it reached this quirkiness without ever straying too far away from the conventional platformer routine that we’ve known and loved for years. In fact the very first level could have been lifted straight out of a SEGA game back in the golden age of video game platforming icons. The first level gets you used to jumping around, navigating through maps, and using your mad dash attack in order to destroy crates and other things. You’ll quickly learn that peanuts and apples are things to acquire, with the former giving you health and the latter giving you extra lives. The game is surprisingly difficult in spots and checkpoints are scarce enough that item collecting becomes an important and prominent part of your gaming experience.
The longer you play through Tembo the Badass Elephant the more you’ll come to realize that this is some sort of spiritual successor to games like Sonic, but with a Gamefreak twist and an art style that is so uniquely its own you tend to forget that you are playing something familiar. You’ll follow along with the primary game mechanics that include pushing through buildings, throwing enemies around with your trunk, and jump pounding tanks into oblivion. Along the way you’ll take on the Mario like role of evasion agent as you try to duck fireballs, evade gunfire, and navigate around obstacles that would see your vengeance slowed down.
Traditional platforming aspects win through with elephant launching platforms, moving floor tiles, and even shifting levels that challenge you to maneuver your bulky Tembo around without succumbing to the level or your enemy. If you do happen to balk and get hit you’ll go flying into the air, littering peanuts behind you like a certain blue hedgehog and his lovely golden rings. The sounds are right, the look is right, and the difficulty is right on cue.
If you think that Tembo is about raining destruction and creating clutter, you’d be half right. However, there is more to the game than that. Every level has the primary goal of getting you to Point B after starting from Point A. Along the way you’ll get hit with a side quest that charges you with saving lost civilians. There are 10 lost civilians in each level that need your saving and you’ll have to engage in some elementary map exploration in order to find them all. As you find these civilians they come running to you and hop onto your back. From there on until you reach the end of the level the civilians will hang on for dear life, ducking and screaming every time something crazy happens. Having 10 people on your back as you fight your way through a warzone is definitely an interesting visual when you are a gigantic war painted elephant. The twist adds a new wrinkle to gameplay that gives completionists something to do while padding out the games length with some solid fundamental collection based fun.
Along the way you’ll eventually be hit with traditional puzzle platforming segments. These parts are not hard, inventive, or overly easy. They range from using a sharp eye to find weak points in the defense all the way to ground pounding through the right doors and floors as you evade gunfire. Rarely are you pressed too hard and so Tembo never loses his momentum and you never grow bored of the action on screen. We would have liked to see some more done with the puzzle aspect but there are good enough reasons to have avoided making them too time consuming. Still, it feels like a missed opportunity.
As you journey through the game you’ll earn points by taking out enemies. These points go into your final score at the end of the level. Points can be semi difficult to come by and soon they become downright problematic. Levels are locked behind point gates which means you will end up replaying levels several time through merely to push ahead in the narrative. This pushes you to avoid speed runs and play for damage, killing or collecting everything in your path.
Tembo the Badass Elephant is a fun game that never shies away from the fact that it is fairly generic. The art style is interesting and Tembo is a fun character. There’s a lot of fun to be had here if you are willing to just let loose.