We get a lot of retro-style games here on the Nintendo eShop. Most of these derive from the developers’ experiences playing all-time favorites like Super Mario Bros., Metroid, Zelda, etc. Certain others, however, like to play a wild card and re-introduce aesthetics that are less commonplace in the indie scene. Case in point is The Adventures of Elena Temple, an upcoming Switch release that pays homage to games that hail from ’80s computers.
The title protagonist uncovers a secret underground tomb for the sole purpose of claiming the treasure hidden inside. Of course, the idea is for Elena Temple to find her way through this treachery to claim the much-desired riches. This narrative is really only to kickstart the gameplay, but to my surprise I’ve found the game’s menu to have a more interesting tale to tell.
The Adventures of Elena Temple is set up to be this lost classic made by a developer that just couldn’t catch a break as the game got ported to multiple platforms. It’s a funny read that some indies may actually be able to relate to, despite the fact that it’s fiction. I was actually hoping for the faux history to play a role in the game itself, as if you were playing through various years of the game’s existence.
I was admittedly a little disappointed it was only an aesthetic thing, but the presentation is still nothing to scoff at. The backdrops and monitors (that parody products from the real world) make it look like you’re playing the game on the hardware it got ported to. The palette changes could have been just that, but the way it’s done instead is a great touch.
Elena Temple itself is a basic two-color game. The game obviously has limits when it comes to its conveyance, but it does what it goes out to do. Sprites animate with a couple frames each, and the objects are distinguished enough from the background and each other for you to tell what’s what and where you are able to go. It gets the job done.
The audio’s kind of on the weak side. With the palettes changing to go with what faux system the game is being played on, I don’t think it would have been a stretch to imagine the sound quality changing as well. However, Elena Temple sounds the same across all versions.
The sound effects seem to be made with the same sound effects generator that I use for my own pixel art games; I guess it works for this context. They could have been stronger and add to the game’s identity. There’s a nice variety of music whose order randomizes after every loop, but I think the final room could have used its own theme song to create a sense of intensity.
The Adventures of Elena Temple is a platformer where you explore a maze consisting of fifty rooms; the more you explore, the more of the map you unveil. There are eight diamonds hiding in the game and you have to get them all to unlock the final room, where the closest thing to a boss awaits. One the diamonds is hiding behind an area you have to unlock by collecting 99 coins. Coins are found often, so it’s not a steep requirement. Should you want to 100% the game, you’ll probably want to go after all 120 coins.
It’s a simple, enjoyable romp. Death is a slap on the wrist, but the game doesn’t focus on beating up the player rather does it want him/her to focus on navigating the map. There’s always some little satisfaction when making progress, whether it’s by collecting something or solving a room puzzle. The puzzles could have been more challenging, but they nevertheless keep the pace going. The game has a steady balance among its design decisions, and it’s a comfortable title to play through as a result.
You can think of this as a gaming equivalent of snack food. It’s a great casual title that also pleases the nostalgia crowd. There are a few things it falters on; hardcore players might want a little more out of it given the relatively light difficulty. Elements like the sound department could be more consistent with its presentation. Still, The Adventures of Elena Temple shines through for the most part on account of the many things it does do right, and it’s well worthy of its $5.00 price point.
Review copy provided by Grimtalin