4 stars
Overall Grade
4 stars

(click linked text below to jump to related section of the review)

The Game Itself
4 Stars
The Video: Sizing Up the Picture
4 Stars
The Audio: Rating the Sound
3.5 Stars
Replay Factor
2 Stars
Bottom Line

Tembo The Badass Elephant

Street Date:
July 21st, 2015
Reviewed by:
Review Date:1
July 22nd, 2015
Game Release Year:
Game Freak, SEGA

Editor's Notes

PlayStation 4 version reviewed.


Far and above everything else, Game Freak is known for creating the 'Pokemon' series, however, the company has created more than the mega popular franchise. Their latest title, 'Tembo The Badass Elephant', is a collaboration with Sega, a company well known for its quirky, unique games. With such a pedigree on hand, just how well does this game stand up to the lofty expectations of these high-profile companies?

The Game Itself: Our Reviewer's Take

The enemy has taken over, and there seems to be little hope for this peanut shaped island. The island's last hope? A retired elephant named Tembo. He comes to take out the phantom menace, running down foes and saving civilians… simply because he's a badass.

'Tembo The Badass Elephant' is a platformer title, so the story isn't particularly important. Instead, this title relies more on its gameplay and controls to provide player enjoyment. The goal of each level is to defeat as many enemies as possible, while saving as many civilians as possible. It's not required to defeat all the enemies or save everyone in each level, but each zone has a counter of overall enemies that must be defeated before the next set of levels unlocks.

Tembo the Badass Elephant PS4 review

Interestingly enough, the enemy requirements for the zones are quite high, requiring players to fully explore all the levels and defeat the majority of enemies. Those that try to rush through the levels will find them running short on the counter, requiring them to go back and play the levels again. It can be a bit frustrating working through the levels multiple times to find a few missed enemies, but overall as long as players are exploring and finding the majority of the secrets, they should reach, or be close to, the requirements needed to move forward.

Now, those of you reading the review might think that all 'Tembo' is about is smashing through everything with reckless abandon, and that's not a hard conclusion to reach based on the title and the overall objective of defeating every enemy in one's path. Beyond this rush'n'attack style, however, 'Tembo' focuses far more on precise, deliberate platforming. The option to rush through the levels is there with the dash button and the attack moves associated with it, but those trying to move too quickly will often rush themselves right into a waiting enemy and take damage, or miss an extra area filled with enemies to smash through, ruining their final enemy count.

In a lot of ways, it reminds me of the 'Donkey Kong Country' titles—'Tembo's' levels are filled with secrets and the levels are designed less to get from point A to point B and more to use all the tools at the player's disposal to accomplish a goal, whether that would be to finish a level or to find a secret area to explore. It's very rewarding, even if some of the title's stiffer requirements and harder to find areas can grate on the nerves after multiple attempts at levels.

The Video: Sizing Up the Picture

'Tembo' stands up well visually. While it's certainly not an art style that pushes the PlayStation 4 to its limits, the graphics are both clean and colorful. The style mimics a comic book for its few cutscenes, and a cartoonish style for the levels and gameplay. Players will only have trouble making out enemies amongst the background if they're trying to dash through the levels, but that's not as much a graphical problem as it is the game itself punishing players for being careless.

The Audio: Rating the Sound

The 'Tembo' soundtrack is also quite good. The tracks aren't the type I would listen to outside of the game itself, but do fit the game quite well. Also, the sound effects are a good fit for a game about an elephant destroying everything… even if they tend to drown out the music.

Replay Factor

Tembo the Badass Elephant PS4 review

After players get through the levels of 'Tembo', there is very little left to do. There are trophies that encourage getting all the citizens and defeating all the enemies, but the way the latter works, defeating every enemy in every level can be far more trouble and frustration than its worth. There are no extra levels or any extra tidbits after the last boss is finished.

Final Thoughts

'Tembo The Badass Elephant' might have a few niggling issues with a short campaign and some difficult to reach requirements to access new stages, but all and all the title stands as solid as an elephant. It's a blast to play, smashing through enemies and exploring all of the levels, and is worth the time of anyone that enjoys platformers. It's by no means perfect, but this collaboration ended with both Sega and Game Freak on top.

Motion Controls

  • No

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