An elephant with attitude in a side-scrolling, 2D action game.
SEGA and Game freak have a new hero coming to consoles and PC this Summer. It’s not a blue, spiky critter, and it isn’t someone who crams monsters into little balls. It’s an elephant who seems to have spent far too much time watching Rambo movies, and has been summoned save the city from the evil forces of PHANTOM in a badass way. Tie your bandana, grab a bowl of peanuts and get ready for some side-scrolling fun!
Tembo The Badass Elephant puts the player in control of the titular Tembo, an elephant who is particularly suited to taking down the forces of PHANTOM and saving the city. Although a regular elephant may not be a suitable hero for this type of action, side-scrolling adventure, Tembo is no regular elephant. And while Tembo The Badass Elephant may appear to be just a regular side-scrolling action game, my time spent with the PS4 version was utter, fast-paced joy.
So, Shell City is under attack from the mysterious forces of PHANTOM and the only hero who can make a dent in their forces is Tembo, an elephant with more than a few handy abilities. After the opening scenes which explain the story in panel-form, the player is introduced to Tembo’s various abilities as he leaves his island to head for the beleaguered big city.
Being a massive animal, Tembo plods comfortably along the screen. That is, until he launches into a dash which sees the elephant pick up quite a considerable speed and smash through pretty much anything in his path. He is also able to jump, something quite impressive for an elephant, and even waggle his legs to hover for a second or so, allowing him to clear larger gaps. His other abilities include an impressive uppercut, a butt stomp, a sliding tackle and the ability to roll into a ball and bounce along the level, decimating anything in his path. With this sort of arsenal of moves, surely nothing can stop this badass elephant.
But wait, there’s more. Tembo’s trunk is not just for whacking enemy soldiers out of the way. It can also be used to spray water, which can be topped up at various points in the levels. Using the water, Tembo is able to extinguish flames, either permanently or for a short time depending on their type, and later in the game cause plants to grow to create platforms or even to open gates. Tembo has quite the list of different moves, and the game makes use of them all with impressive regularity.
The levels seem to be very well designed for wholesale elephant destruction. From walls and floors that are smashed to pieces, stacks of cars blocking the way forward, to the hundreds of enemy soldiers that line each level, the destruction is very satisfying and begs to be played at high speed. The enemies are varied too, with rocket launching goons causing damage from afar, and tanks or even mechs being produced to add a sense of risk.
The difficulty level is not set too high, with reaching the end of a level fairly easy. Along the way, players will be able to gather peanuts which, once a certain number have been collected, give Tembo an extra life in the form of a jar of peanut butter. However, this is only half of the story as enemies are hidden everywhere through the levels, and so are captive civilians. This is one of my favorite features of the game, find a caged civilian in a level and smash the cage. The civilian will then jump onto Tembo’s back and ride along with him to the end of the level. Seeing Tembo barreling along with a bunch of cheering civilians on his back is excellent. Each level has a fixed number of enemies and civilians to be found, so there is plenty of reason to go back for more.
On top of all of this, The game looks great as well. It is brightly coloured and comical in its animation. The sounds in the game have a lovely weight behind them as you embark on elephant-fuelled destruction.
Tembo The Badass Elephant is set for release this Summer and already looks set to be a hit. The title of the game is not exactly endearing, and the idea of an elephant main character may not lend itself to classic platforming action adventure, but from what I have played so far, Tembo is a real gem and well worth watching out for this Summer.