“It’s peanut butter jelly time!”

Available on PC, PlayStation 4 (tested) and Xbox One

As a kid, I really enjoyed the first Sonic games: they had a cool main character, slick art, catchy tunes and a gameplay that made an emphasis on speed. Then Sonic’s games took another direction and never again managed to catch my attention. What does a blue hedgehog has to do with an elephant cosplaying Rambo you ask? Well, the thing here is that Tembo the Badass Elephant could have easily been Sonic, the Fast Hedgehog.

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This new IP brought by Game Freak, best known for the Pokémon franchise, captures the magic the first Sonic’s games had, with added mechanics that keep the gameplay fresh, albeit some issues regarding the games’ length and its lack of other modes. You play the game as Tembo, an elephant that served as member of a military squad. Currently he lives in peace within the jungle, until a race of aliens decide to invade the earth, making Tembo rise up to arms.

The game is divided in three zones, which at the same time are divided in 4 stages. Each of the zones is very different from each other, giving the developers a lot of variants regarding level design and graphics. The game looks really good, featuring a cool art design and vivid colors, whether you are in the city or in a desert. The games’ music, while not bad, is not as memorable as that of other platforms games (Sonic, Megaman, etc), but suits each stage just fine.

As for the gameplay, Tembo has a nice control layout and precision, a must for every game, but more so when it comes to 2d platforming games. You can dash to stomp enemies at high speed, jump and hover for a second, drop from the air either vertically or diagonally, like a cannon ball or Sonic himself, and you can throw water, of which you have a limited amount but you can recharge every now and then.

My issues with the game would be its length; although you can replay any level the amount of times you like in order to get perfect scores in every single one, the story mode is the only mode the game has and it is not a lengthy one. Adding one or two more zones or an extra mode of some sort definitely would have benefited the game.

Should you play it? If you like 2D platform gaming, you surely want to check Tembo: The Badass Elephant; it’s fun, plays well, has cool visuals and the difficulty curve is a fair one. Think of it as the Sonic game you always wanted with today standards, but never came to be.

An elephant that dresses like Rambo in order to kick major aliens’ ass? You definitely want to check Tembo the Badass Elephant.

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