What do you get when you cross an elephant, lasers and a bowler cap? Why, Elephant Quest of course! This RPG shooter tells the story of an elephant (fittingly named Elephant) that has had his hat stolen by Wooly the Mammoth. Of course, getting it back isn't such a simple feat. You will need to guide him through an adventure of epic proportions, nimbly jumping across gaps, steering clear of nasty spikes and fulfilling quests given by your friends. The enemies may look cute and colorful but you'll need to clear them out if you ever hope to get Elephant's precious bowler cap back --don't worry, our blue hero has a laser so you can shoot them in the face.
The game begins soon after a short story sequence. Talking to the first two elephants, Sprouts and Tasselphant, introduces Elephant Quest's simple controls. You can move your laser-shooting elephant around by using either the arrow keys or the WASD buttons. Up or 'W' makes Elephant jump, the left and right arrow keys or 'A' and 'D' moves him from side to side and the Down button or 'S' allows him to interact with door and other objects. To activate the laser and get rid of the baddies, aim by sliding the mouse and press the left mouse button to fire. While combining platforming dexterity with basic mouse aiming may take a few minutes to get used to, it's nothing too difficult even for the youngest of players. Actually it's all pretty basic, which makes the game accessible even for casual gamers. As a bonus, you can even try to play co-op with a buddy, with one of you minding the platforming part of the game and another simply focusing on turning baddies to toast.
After defeating a few enemies, Elephant will earn enough experience points to level up. This then gives you the option to boost his stats. It works much like a tree-based RPG chart wherein you can choose to spend your points on adjacent spaces containing the stats most appealing to your style of play. Pick one branch to specialize in for some formidable bonuses. Upon spending enough points on any skill (Agility, Intelligence, Dexterity or Charisma) you earn a sweet upgrade for Elephant. This improves anything from jumping to adding minions to fight for the hero.
You can have multiple quests active at the same time. Talking to the many, many colorful elephants scattered about the land opens up these side missions. To help you keep track of your progress is a quest chart. The locations you visit and NPCs you talk to can also be seen in the Level Map. These simple menus do help a lot, especially since the landscapes in Elephant Quest are non-linear. Which quest you complete first is entirely up to you, so expect plenty of backtracking and even perhaps a few moments of being totally lost.
The graphics are quite whimsical, as expected from John Cooney and Jimp tag team. The color tones are vibrant, yet they still manage to be cool to the eyes. Basically, if you loved any of the duo's other works, you won't be disappointed with Elephant Quest's visual direction.
Elephant Quest's ability to entertain using humor without falling victim to becoming overwhelmingly silly certainly lives up to jmtb02's typical quality of work. It's really all there: two genres combined into one compelling package, simple yet appealing visuals and a cute, somewhat endearing story to boot. We highly recommend playing this elephant game if you've ever liked any of John's other works or are into RPGs in general. A straightforward trek through the game should last a couple of hours or more if we're accounting for some trial and error backtracking. Reserve a lazy afternoon and prepare to fry a few baddies for the sake of a bowler cap.