Tembo the Badass Elephant is almost exactly as it sounds. The evil Phantom organization is rampaging the world and the heroic Shell army is at its wits end. They call in a ringer, Tembo, in order to thwart the chaotic enemies and rescue civilians. That’s the story in a nutshell. The comic panels are beautiful and the humor lends some charm to the game, but it’s not a harrowing adventure by any means.
At the outset, Tembo is brimming with power. He can charge, shooter water, summersault, dropkick, uppercut, and power bomb thugs. The goal of each level is to defeat every Phantom soldier as well as to rescue every civilian, which will attribute to an overall score, but aren’t essential. The game overall feels like a very arcade like experience and even a little bit like Sonic, only with a heftier gait. It’s frantic, fun, and challenging. Well, not so much difficult as some poor platforming sections hold it back along with limited lives. Understandably the developers wanted to give Tembo a retro appeal, but including the system of extra lives in this day and age is like reintroducing random encounters in RPGs. It unnecessarily muddies the experience.
The game looks great, like a cartoon come to life thanks to the art. To those that have seen the Disney cartoon, Gravity Falls, the style will become apparent. It controls great, though again some platforming sections can be a bit on the unforgiving side. The music, unfortunately, is the most disappointing part of the game as Game Freak usually excels in this area. The content, except for chasing scores, leaves a little to be desired too, but it is a downloadable game after all.
Tembo the Badass Elephant is a fun little side project from Game Freak. It’s great to see the Pokémon developers branch out and try something new. It may lack the overall polish of said series, especially with the music, but it’s a neat experiment. This elephant may be a little war torn, but he’s still badass.
Score: 3/5 Stars
Special Notes: The publisher provided a review copy. This article was originally published on July 21, 2015 via my Examiner account before the website shut down. Check out the supporting video review on the accompanying YouTube Channel, ReActionExaminer.