I've never played an exploratory RPG featuring an elephant. I've never played one where the elephant is the lead character. And I've CERTAINLY never played one where the elephant is surrounded by laser beams.
Today, though, all these things... all of these things have been fulfilled. And I feel a little richer for the experience. Thank you, Elephant Quest, thank you.
Life in the world of elephants has gone to HELL. Wooly, the ultimate in pachyderm bullies, has stolen your hat. Never one to simply lay down and give in, you must traverse the lands in search of Wooly and get that damn hat back. (And why wouldn't you, it's a nice hat.)
That is the ultimate goal of Elephant Quest: find Wooly and force him into submission. Before you get there, though, your little elephant must face a slew of obstacles, ranging from tricky platforms to bloodthirsty enemies to other troubled elephants in need of assistance. Combining all three elements results in an exploratory game similar to Metroid or Castlevania... or, for fans of browser games, Endeavor... with a suffusion of RPG leveling that resembles Final Fantasy X for some extra kick.
And talking elephants.
And... well, lots of weird stuff, I'll be honest.
Elephant Quest's controls are both simple and complex - but only at first. Moving your elephant is as easy as using the arrow keys or WASD. What complicates matters is the inclusion of mouse controls, allowing you to aim your laser using the mouse pointer. This is difficult to do only for a few minutes, though - splitting your brain between the two is eventually a piece of cake.
I had little trouble with the controls themselves, aside from a few problematic jumps (resulting in annoyance, not death). No, the controls in Elephant Quest only become troublesome when your elephant collects too much stuff and everything becomes laggy, which I'll detail below.
Elephant Quest is a visually basic game. The environments are all colourfully cartoony, and I'm glad that there are several different tilesets for the mazes.
I was less wowed by the sprites. The elephants are fine, and the weapons that float about you are good enough (I especially like the tiny elephant minions), but the enemies... they're a bit lacking. There's variety, yes, but none of them screamed originality, and after a while they get somewhat repetitive. And the one enemy I DID like, the Tank, didn't show up very often. So... take what you can get, I guess? At least it's not a long game.
There is, however, a snag alongside the simplicity. Whenever your elephant completes a task or purchases a particular upgrade, it usually gains a weapon that helps it fight. This is nice at first, but the weapons stack - to the point that you're boasting a rather ridiculous array of combat options by the end:
Yep, everything floating around my blue elephant fires a laser. Yeesh.
I don't MIND this tag-along armory - hell, it's kinda funny - but my computer does, and after a while Elephant Quest got pretty damn slow with all the tiny elephants and tanks and enemy birds and nonsense flying about. Still wasn't HARD, but the lag? Substantial. Expect your final battle with Wooly to be a trifle on the slow side if you're using a laptop.
Elephant Quest is a relatively low-key in its music, boasting a nice variety of tunes that don't obstruct the game in any great way. Nice background selection... if a teensy bit inappropriate at times. The music for the cloud area didn't seem to fit its surroundings at all.
Elephant Quest shouldn't take more than an hour to complete, an perhaps another half hour to complete in its entirety. There's a decent amount of side stuff you don't NEED to cover to beat the game, and given the fairly predictable pattern of the final boss, the extra experience points aren't a requirement for victory.
In short, yeah, Elephant Quest ain't that hard.
I'd chalk the ease of victory up to the leveling system more than anything. It's relatively easy to earn levels in Elephant Quest, and they power your elephant up in very short fashion, regardless of the path of upgrades you choose to take. The sheer number of lasers pointed at enemies by the end is ridiculous, especially if you go for minions. And who wouldn't?
Tack on a Game + option and some fairly small, easy-to-navigate areas and you've got a game that's more for exploratory beginners and novices than hardcore players. This doesn't make Elephant Quest any less fun, mind, making it the perfect choice for somebody who's bored over a lunch hour.
This review probably sounded more negative than positive, which is an unfair assessment. I liked Elephant Quest. It's an enjoyable romp through a goofy, expansive land, with a wholly sufficient number of tasks to complete on the way to the conclusion. Well worth playing, overall - just do so on a more powerful computer.
PLAY ELEPHANT QUEST