We are in an industry in which we usually complain about the lack of new blood, of the original franchises, and that studies are always about the same thing instead
of trying to devise new formulas. The reasoning is very logical and serves commercial reasons, hence the figures of Call of Duty or Assassin’s Creed. However, sometimes the miracle occurs and a company decides to open a hole in their agenda to try something new. In the past E3 we saw him for example with Guerrilla
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, which finally sets aside the Killzone saga to try his luck with Horizon: Zero Dawn; which also looks spectacular. And of course, there are other studies that have no intention of being classified, although they function in some way in the margins of the industry, with some ‘independence’ of the executives. Cases like Vanillaware, who has found in Atlus’s support a mattress on
which to experiment; o Dontnod, who after doing with Capcom Remember Me, has now moved into the lap of Square Enix with his very interesting Life is Strange. And something similar happens to Game Freak, strange as it may sound.
Because we are talking about the studio that was commissioned to create, neither more nor less than the Pokémon franchise, so the first thought may be related to Nintendo and the studio as a first party team; that is, in charge of the development, exclusively, of titles for the great N. But nothing is further from reality: among its credits we find titles in Megadrive and,
only three years after creating the Pikachu and company franchise, they launched in PlayStation exclusively in Japan the curious Click Medic. Total, which now come again with a multiplatform adventure that, surprise, comes on PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One … but not Wii U. And his name is Tembo the Badass Elephant.
The starting point is the following: we control Tembo, an elite elephant trained by the best for the rescue of hostages and the destruction of the enemy army. When Shell City is in danger, is warned to put things back in order … and this is where we started.
To adapt such a delirious argument to the mechanics of a videogame, we have opted, as we have said, for an arcade with platform elements in which we control this unlikely protagonist throughout 18 phases in ascending difficulty, as expected; the difference is that here the difficulty is high at almost every moment, so when we reach the last parts of the game, the thing is pretty hardcore.
And is that the real heart of this title is to bite the player dying repeatedly and having to overcome the missions again and again. Do not be misled: it is not Hotline Miami, nor a lost and colorful member of the Souls franchise. Simply, you have to calculate very well the jumps and shear projectiles: as in Contra or any classic arcade.
Thanks to his training, Tembo is able to execute different abilities and movements that otherwise would be limited only to Rambo and other icons of war fiction.
For example, you can make a tackle that allows you to destroy areas of the stage such as metal doors, cars, houses and even -however- soldiers, destroying them from a distance; and starting from this same action, we can take a drive to reach higher areas.
It also has a hammer blow with its trunk, in the air, as well as a jump with a fall that makes it crush anything that is placed just below: enemies, revolving doors, rocks, and so on. But the most important thing is that he can take advantage of his own nature, using his trunk to
shoot water and with them open different roads, extinguish fires and burning doors, etc. To do this we need to fill a water loading bar, otherwise it will be impossible.
All this will be implemented repeatedly throughout 18 phases, which also will face many enemies. Both the normal soldiers -who can use weapons,
blades, machine guns, flamethrowers, bombs, etc.- and the more reinforced, such as helicopters, or above all, tanks, will end up yielding to
Tembo’s attacks but it is a game that demands a certain calm because there are few ways to generate life (on occasion, a box with vegetables appears that restores it) and death is equivalent to starting the level from the last checkpoint, there being a
couple of them per level. So do not go crazy, although everything invites to it: his emphatic music, very well chosen, his visual aspect of cartoon unleashed and above all, seeing how at all times there is something on stage that can harm us . The key is to move,
There are two things that keep Tembo from being a truly remarkable game. The first, its progression system is not the most appropriate, although it is true that is included in favor of replayability and increase the duration of the product: and is that to unlock some phases before we must have defeated a number of enemies.
This works in the following way: at each level, we can kill X soldiers and rescue ten hostages. We can complete the phase even if we do not fulfill 100% of these two objectives, for example ending with only 200 of 250 soldiers; but at a certain point, if we have not done it the first time, it’s time to repeat levels that have already been overcome in order to try to finish with more enemies better. Otherwise, it is not possible to progress.