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Tembo the Badass Elephant Review

Tembo the Badass Elephant Trainer
 CHEATfactor Game Review by:  Joe Sinicki Reviewed on: PC 
 

Welcome to our CHEATfactor Game Review of Tembo the Badass Elephant. We review the game and then factor in how the available cheats affect the overall game experience. For better or worse, our reviews will help you decide whether or not to use cheats when playing the game.

Don't let the long, gray trunk and huge feet fool you, Tembo isn't 100% elephant - he's part hedgehog. Sega and Game Freak's (yes, the same Game Freak that you know from Pokemon) new platformer feels like it's built from the same DNA that made the original Sonic games so much fun all those years ago. More importantly though, it's an old school platformer that's challenging enough but still accessible. With Tembo the Badass Elephant I'm ten-years-old again, sitting in front of my TV, Sega Genesis controller in hand on a Saturday morning, and anyone from my generation will love getting that feeling back and maybe, just maybe it will bring back a style of game that's been dormant for quite some time.

 
It's an admittedly simple set of moves...
Tembo the Badass Elephant Review Screenshot
 

You play as the titular badass elephant as he's called into action by a former ally to combat a mysterious invading force called Phantom and rescue innocent citizens. You'll do this mainly by destroying as much as you possibly can. Holding down one button allows you dash and charge forward, taking out anything in your path, while hitting another direction will result in a different directional attack (up for an uppercut, down for a ground pound). It's an admittedly simple set of moves but it's also extremely fun and surprisingly satisfying to just dash through and destroy anything in your wake and it's even more satisfying when it results in completely clearing a level. I expected Tembo to control like one of the ridable animals from the Donkey Kong Country series, but instead it was very fluid and though it had some weight to it, not clunky at all.

With this simple of level design, you'd expect the game to get boring fast, but thankfully Tembo benefits from some great enemy and level design. Phantom soldiers come in a variety of disciplines, from flame-throwers and bombers to soldiers who charge you with giant bayonets. Combine this with some pretty stellar level design that rivals that of some of the greatest platforms of the 16-bit era and you'll see why Tembo is so much fun to play. Every time that I thought I knew what the game was going to throw at me it changed the formula just enough to keep things interesting. Then there were the times that something completely new was introduced, like the giant bowling ball found earlier in the game that are such fantastic set-piece moments and great fun to play.

Everything is presented in a really fantastic Saturday morning cartoon visual style. It may look unremarkable in screenshots but the animations here are incredibly well-done. They're fluid, fun and just plain look great. Tempo is a cartoon come to life, and it needs to be experienced to be fully appreciated. I also have to commend the designers for just how well the game handles the often hectic action thrown it's way; I rarely had any stutters or hiccups in the frame rate.

 
There's a distinct old-school vibe to nearly everything...
Tembo the Badass Elephant Review Screenshot
 

There's a distinct old-school vibe to nearly everything in Tembo, for better of worse. The game even has a traditional life system and you'll be farming peanuts (think collecting rings in Sonic or coins in Mario) to get more lives; though here you'll need 300 peanuts for an extra life instead of the traditional 100. Don't let the fun visuals fool you though; you're going to need as many lives as you can muster up since there's a distinct learning curve to some of the game's levels, especially those found later in the game. This is especially true for those that are going to want to go through and find every peanut and rescue every citizen, be prepared to die, and be prepared to do it frequently.

For a game so built on momentum, Tembo has the unfortunate habit of trying to make you stop that at the worst possible times. While you mostly have the freedom to explore levels on your own and find every item and every secret, a few of the later levels require you to achieve very specific goals, like going through a certain number of soldiers in a certain amount of time. These were easily my least favorite moments of the game and though they did offer a good amount of challenge, they didn't feel like they fit in with the rest of the game. Don't get me wrong - I would appreciate these levels a lot more if they were separate from the rest of the main game, like in a challenge mode.

Tembo the Badass Elephant is also too short for my tastes, but to be fair that had a lot to do with how much I was enjoying the game. It's a fun and challenging platformer that builds heavily on the legacy left by games like Sonic the Hedgehog. What's more, it's gorgeous and a lot of fun to look at. I may be going out on a limb here but Tembo the Badass Elephant is the best Sonic game I've played in years.

 
Overall:  8/10 Presentation: 8 Gameplay: 8 
Lasting Appeal: 7 CHEATfactor: 0 
 
 
CHEATfactor
 

As of this writing there are no known cheats or trainers for Tembo the Badass Elephant. Like any old school game I would love a cheat for unlimited peanuts or lives. It would make exploring and 100 presenting the game that much easier.

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