'Tembo The Badass Elephant' Saves The World One Peanut At A Time

July 27, 2015

There was a time when platforming games were all the rage. Pushing players to perfect their running and jumping skills with pinpoint accuracy was a huge accomplishment for some developers, and beating those games came as a huge reward. In the current marketplace, the 2D, sidecrolling platformer has become a bit of a novelty, with releases that target more nostalgia than originality. While some great games have come out of this movement in the last couple of years, few have brought anything new to this tried and true genre. Sega's latest digital release, Tembo the Badass Elephant, hopes to change all that by giving one serious pachyderm a particular set of skills to help save the world from a mysterious military force.

Who:
Developer: Game Freak
Publisher: Sega

Game Freak, the Japanese company best known for bringing Pokemon to the masses, are behind this eccentric take on preventing world domination. While the studio's aptitude is clearly around creating games for monsters that can fit in your pocket, they do have a history of titles that spans more than two decades of development. In fact, one of their most recent, non-Pokemon, releases was HarmoKnight, was a rhythm-based platformer on the 3DS that clearly laid some groundwork for Tembo.

What:
While it may be implied by the name, this game's main character, Tembo, is an elephant, and a badass one at that. Tembo's world has been taken over by an armed legion, calling themselves "the Phantom." Tanks, helicopters, and soldiers have trampled over both the city and the country, taking helpless civilians hostages along the way. The head of the resistance military (a.k.a. the good guys) once fought alongside Tembo, and remembered what a badass he was, so he brings in the beast to save the threat to society. Even though he is a hulking elephant, Tembo is actually quite spry on his feet, boasting a charge attack, as well a targeting dive and slide maneuvers, best suited for taking out some of the trickier members of the Phantom's forces. He even has a bit of a floaty jump, that might remind players a little bit of Yoshi's skills from some of the more recent Nintendo games. Overall, Tembo is pretty well-equipped, using his size, and his trunk full of water, to maneuver around the game's increasingly challenging levels and bosses. You'll be surprised just how much this badass elephant can pull off when the fate of the world is on the line.

Where:
If you want to see just how badass of an elephant Tembo actually is, then you'll have to fire up your PlayStation 4, Xbox One, or Windows PC to check out the digital-only release.

Why:
There are very few elephants that have gotten to step into the spotlight in media (Dumbo, Babar, and Stampy lead the short list), and even fewer have ever made it into video games. Outside of the parade in the background of Dhalsim's stage in Street Fighter II, and a couple of minor appearances in games like Donkey Kong Country and Diddy Kong Racing, these gentle giants have been overlooked time and time again. Tembo does a pretty great job of changing all of that, and bringing elephants back to the center ring. This game offers a solid level of challenge, while mixing up the gameplay just enough to keep players on their toes. The controls do take a bit of getting used to, in order to make sure that Tembo does exactly what you want him to, but he is an elephant, so if you look at it that way, some of this can be forgiven. At its core, Tembo the Badass Elephant is a fun little adventure, reminiscent of some classic platformers from the 16-bit heyday. The premise is amusing, and the game itself offers a welcome scale of difficulty, so as to not turn off the more novice players out there, while offering the veterans a nice layer of challenge. Overall, it's worth a go, if, for no other reason than, to support the struggle for the continued use of elephants as integral video game characters.

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