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Found 6 results

  1. Jonathan Higgins

    Review: Tembo the Badass Elephant

    Developer: Game Freak Publisher: SEGA Platform: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Steam Release Date: July 21st, 2015 ESRB: T for Teen Official Website Note: This review is based on the PlayStation 4 version of the game It“s difficult to associate Game Freak with anything other than Pokémon. But they“ve actually created a handful of unique experiences before and since that craze began. Before Pikachu, there was Pulseman (funnily enough, the first collaboration between Game Freak and SEGA) and Mendel Palace. And more recently, they created two unique 3DS eShop titles with Soriti Horse (a horse-racing...solitaire game exclusive to Japan) and HarmoKnight. I“ve dabbled in all of them, and I quite liked the approaches each game took. Tembo the Badass Elephant caused the Internet to go into a frenzy when it was first announced, because it“s the first title developed by Game Freak that has managed to skip Nintendo consoles entirely — so far. Does Tembo“s quality match his larger-than-life Internet infamy? In terms of how the game has been presented — from its menus, how each of the game“s levels are presented on the world map, and other various nuances — it definitely feels like it takes a page or two from HarmoKnight. The aesthetics match the premise quite well; don“t get me wrong. But it“s immediately apparent that the same design team that took on HarmoKnight definitely helped out with Tembo the Badass Elephant. Whether that“s a good or bad thing depends on how much you liked the game that came immediately before it. If you“ve not yet tried HarmoKnight, or if this is the first time you“ve experienced what Game Freak can do for your eyes outside of the Pokémon games... I don“t think you“ll be disappointed. The wacky, comic book style visuals — to the point where every move Tembo makes is accompanied by action-text font such as “BOOM!” or “SLAM!” or “BADA-BADA-BADA” appearing under his feet as he tramples his way across stages — definitely suit the game. Its attitude and identity are wildly consistent, and its presentation has a fair amount of polish to it. I“m not really the world“s biggest fan of the soundtrack, though. While each level“s theme definitely fits well with its accompanying music, the songs themselves sometimes feel unnecessarily repetitive or samey. Tembo the Badass Elephant“s gameplay is its defining quality, in my eyes. It has the standard platformer objective of "get to the end in one piece," but there are a few bonus initiatives thrown in, and the gameplay often works hand-in-hand to aid the game“s presentation. It“s super satisfying controlling an elephant that looks like Rambo as he ground-pounds down entire skyscrapers (windows break, cars are destroyed, there“s just absolute mayhem) with several satisfying crunches. Eradicating enemies by using the environment around you sometimes leads to humorous design choices as well — such as watching a giant bowling ball roll over your foes as they run away in terror — to simply hit a switch above you. Or the fact that an enemy could be running at you with a knife, then you jump and watch him hit an explodable box face-first and die. There are so many small, humorous touches that it makes good level design better. Tembo has a wide variety of moves at his disposal that let you destroy everything in your path, as well as extinguish any exploding fires you“ll create. There are even bosses at the end of each world that are a genuine challenge, but won“t leave you stuck or frustrated from a poor sense of design. Everything about what makes Tembo work handles well, and offers its fair share of surprises. The things that hold Tembo back from breaking metaphorical ground, though, are some of the choices the developers made that fit vexing stereotypes found in many modern-day “score attack” platformers. Take away the side objectives of destroying every enemy in a level, plus finding each stage“s 10 civilians needing rescued, and you“re left with a $14.99 game with just a hair over fifteen levels. You“ll finish the purposefully bare-bones story by lunchtime and almost feel like you paid too much, if you don“t approach Tembo with the right mindset. This is a game where the levels are meant to be replayed, as you aim for the highest scores to hit online leaderboards and what have you. The game even forces you to replay levels if you don“t perform well enough, because... each world“s last stage is locked behind a “total enemies killed” counter that reaches lengths that demand great playthroughs that could leave beginners frustrated. I“m not necessarily going to knock the game down six pegs for following these conventions, I just would have preferred to see more content for that asking price versus locking levels behind “Have you destroyed enough?” progress points. Even HarmoKnight, which is on the 3DS and priced the same, feels like it has more content than Tembo in the end. That said though, the experience Tembo the Badass Elephant offers up is great. It feels conventional in some ways, and totally surprises you in others. It“s a humorous, fun action game that feels as zany and explosive as a Saturday morning cartoon. The problem with Saturday morning cartoons, though, is that they don“t last long enough. At the end of the day, I“m not sure I“d recommend everyone buy Tembo right away, and I think these various discounts tied with pre-ordering or PlayStation Plus are there to make the sticker shock a little easier to absorb. It“s a solid, confidently designed experience that feels a little too short for its asking price. Still, if you“re willing to give Game Freak and SEGA a chance, I really don“t think you“ll be disappointed. Pros + Tembo's sense of design is stellar and consistent. Presentation often works hand-in-hand with gameplay to create humorous moments. + Difficulty is reasonable, and there are a wide variety of platforming situations spread across all the levels. Cons - Rather than offer more content, some levels are gated to (more or less) force multiple playthroughs. - Not enough content for the asking price. Overall Score: 8 (out of 10) Great Tembo the Badass Elephant has a consistent identity, great gameplay, and a handful of surprising moments. Whether or not all that's worth an inflated price is up to you. Disclosure: This game was reviewed using a downloadable code provided by the publisher
  2. Leah

    Review: HarmoKnight

    Developer: GAME FREAK inc. Publisher: Nintendo Platform: 3DS (eShop) Release Date: March 28, 2013 ESRB: E for Everyone A download code was supplied by the publisher for this review Who ever thought Game Freak would jump onto the rhythm game train? The Pokémon developers rarely deviate from their moneymaking franchise, but everyone needs a change of pace sometimes! The result is HarmoKnight, a cute and fun-looking rhythm platformer. Is HarmoKnight full of the usual brilliance and polish we“re used to seeing in Pokémon, though? How does it stack up as a rhythm game? As mentioned previously, HarmoKnight is a rhythm platformer where you automatically run through levels and jump and attack to the beat (a la BIT.TRIP RUNNER). You play as the young hero, Tempo, who must save the musical planet of Melodia from the loud and evil Noizoids. You also wield a powerful and legendary note that“s used to attack. There are also Simon Says-type levels (think Space Channel 5) and portions where you can play as two other characters. That“s the basic gist of things in HarmoKnight; everything is kept pretty simple! But does simple mean that HarmoKnight is easy? You“d think so, especially with how cute and colorful it appears to be. It“s the exact opposite, though. HarmoKnight is surprisingly difficult and can be frustrating at times. The game is very picky and demands that you be very precise when it comes to timing your hits and jumps. There are also plenty of unfair moments where you can instantly die if you fall down a hole or are hit by a boss“s last attack, despite having a full life bar. You may have some moments where you“ll want to throw your 3DS at a wall, but the main game can be manageable if you“re well-versed in rhythm games. That is, until you reach the bonus world. You thought the rest of HarmoKnight was difficult? The stages in the bonus world are trials of everything you have faced in your journey. They are the most challenging in the entire game. So, be warned; these trials are not for the faint of heart (I still can“t beat the last one!). Enough about how hard HarmoKnight is. Is it any fun? Sure, the game is pretty solid and it“s enjoyable. It“s a nice fix for those that are hungry for a rhythm game. It“s difficult to say that it“s well-polished, though. The music isn“t very memorable or catchy (which is odd, considering Pokemon“s music is always fantastic). HarmoKnight is also pretty short and doesn“t offer much when it comes to making itself stand out from other rhythm games. The two other playable characters, Lyra and Tyko/Cymbi, have fun segments, but they have very little screen time, unfortunately. It isn“t as bad as I“m making it out to be, though, I promise! The 50+ levels you can play are also playable in a faster, harder mode (if you wanted even more of a challenge). And the best part of the game… stages with Pokémon remixes! I only wish that there was more (future DLC, maybe?). It“s a shame, though, that HarmoKnight doesn“t meet high expectations. It“s a nice little rhythm game and I very much enjoyed my time with it, but I don“t think it“s worth the $15 price tag ($10 would seem more appropriate). It“s also very hard to recommend to those unfamiliar with rhythm games. Game Freak has put out a great effort, though, and I hope to see more non-Pokémon games from them in the future. Pros: + The gameplay and stages are entertaining and challenging + Bonus stages where you can play to Pokémon remixes Cons: - Might be too hard for those not familiar with the rhythm genre - Music isn“t very memorable Overall Score: 6 (out of 10) Decent HarmoKnight doesn“t live up to expectations and many may find it overly difficult, but it“s still a worthy experience for those looking for another rhythm game.
  3. Leah

    HarmoKnight - Battling a Boss

    From the album: Leah's Review Images

    © Nintendo

  4. Wii U recently had its own Nintendo Direct and this week it was time for the 3DS to take the spotlight. It managed to do so well by showing off a handful of entirely new games for the system as well as downloadable titles that may also be worth a look. Let's jump into the list of goodies announced during today's Nintendo Direct. New 3DS Titles: Dillon's Rolling Western: The Last Ranger - March 11 Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D - Summer 2013 HarmoKnight - March 28 Kerploosh - March 7 Mario and Donkey Kong: Minis on the Move Mario Golf: World Tour - Summer 2013 Mario & Luigi: Dream Team - Summer 2013 It's exciting to see Nintendo is not content to rest, and instead keeps working to bolster the 3DS catalog. HarmoKnight is an especially nice addition, being a rhythm game developed by Game Freak. Other games are a bit unexpected, such as Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D, which is a remake of the Wii version from 2010. Are you more interested in one of the multiple Mario games or something different?