Tembo is the result of injecting just enough Sylvester Stallone DNA into an elephant. With twice as much fury and three times the handsomeness, you know that this elephant has what it takes to overcome an entire army of evildoers.
One thing this 2D platformer does exceptionally well is provide plenty of eye-candy. Each screen looks like it's ripped straight from a comic book complete with cel shading and pop-up words that illustrate sound effects. Just looking at Tembo's face will immediately inform you what kind of mood he's in. Even when he appears miserable, the rescued people on his back always look like they're having a great time. It's small touches like these (along with the seamless animation) that make this game go above and beyond what you expect from your average platformer. On the other hand, although the audio is composed of fitting orchestral pieces and gratifying sound effects, it lacks an overall personality. It would feel more complete if you heard enemies taunting you, allies cheering you on, and Tembo himself vocalise aside from the odd trumpeting and high-pitched squeal here and there.
Both genre veterans and newcomers alike will welcome Tembo's simple control scheme with open arms. Besides the mandatory run and jump buttons, you can also spray and aim water and perform an arsenal of moves by combining the run and jump buttons with directional momentum. For example, you can roll diagonally down to the ground by dashing in mid-air, perform the classic ground-pound to descend quickly from a jump, and slide-kick by holding down while running. Being able to pull off chains of deadly moves to work your way through difficult platforming situations and hordes of enemies is incredibly satisfying as you watch the chaos unfold.
You'll encounter many progressively difficult enemies, platforming segments, boss encounters, and even the odd puzzle throughout the game's 18 stage campaign. It'll take the average gamer a few hours to work through since it can be rather difficult at times, but when you're done; you'll be tempted to master every stage. This can be accomplished by rescuing all of the human captives and destroying every last enemy. Also, if you're hardcore enough, you can try to do so in as little time as possible to climb each stage's leaderboard. You'll have to be one badass elephant to reach the top of those!
Tembo the Badass Elephant's main problems exist in its inherent frustration that arises more frequently than you'd hope it would. The first contributor to this is the fact that the simplistic control scheme ends up making Tembo perform unintentional moves periodically. Some examples of this include when you accidentally tilt slightly in a direction that makes Tembo roll out of a jump when you think he's fully landed (which could result in him falling down a hole) or when you unexpectedly walk in front of a water fill-up station near some enemies only to watch him automatically suck up some water and get attacked in the process. This just goes to show that a balance should be made between intuitive and manual control schemes and that sometimes more buttons is actually a good thing. Aside from this control issue, sometimes hazards which have the potential to end Tembo's life in one hit fall down or spring up from out of nowhere. This just isn't fair as it forces you to memorize certain sections of stages in order to successfully pass them unharmed.
In the end, Tembo the Badass Elephant is an enjoyable 2D platformer that's satisfying enough to warrant at least one playthrough. Although its flaws prevent it from being a true classic, I look forward to the possibility of seeing a sequel down the road.
- + Awesome comic book style visuals
- + Simple to learn yet challenging gameplay
- + Fairly lengthy 18 stage campaign with enough replay value to keep you busy for hours
- - Audio lacks in the personality department
- - The basic control scheme sometimes makes Tembo perform unintentional moves
- - Many unfair deaths frequently occur