Thanks to GrimTalin for the review code
Title: The Adventures of Elena Temple
System: Nintendo Switch (eShop)
Release Date: 05/15/2018
In this Metroidvania adventure game, you take control of Elena, a young explorer who explores a temple for treasure. Per usual retro game standards, that’s as simple as the plot gets, but a fun little extra that’s thrown in comes from the multiple display options, which tell a small story about a game developer screwing up in every way imaginable and failing to get his game mainstream despite his passion, which kinda remind me of my very own retrospective series and the challenges I’ve endured getting them out in the open. They’re just short little blurbs and beating the game sadly doesn’t trigger a happy surprise ending to resolve the Game Dev’s woes, but it was interesting and somewhat relatable to read nonetheless.
Elena Temple offers not one, not two, or even three, but rather seven different display options to choose from, all based on some sort of retro gaming system. Regardless of which display you stick with, however the game will still be displayed in a monochromatic art style, with a simple artstyle somewhat similar to an LCD game, just with different colors added. (For example the Some Boy device will plaster green all over the background, but it’ll still be just as easy to distinguish the sprites from one another)
The only display option I found to be a bit of a pain to look at was the one that appeared to replicate the Vectrex, which made all the sprites green and everything else black, which put some strain on my eyes and thus was something I never used, as I preferred to go with either the Dell clone system or the original TV set. Another nice touch was that the mesmirizing music changes with each of the seven variants, although a couple of them share the same tracks.
The main goal of Elena Temple is to explore the many rooms of the mysterious temple, cleaning all the treasure out of each room before moving onto the next, while trying to find eight diamonds that will unlock the door to the Goddesses’s Chalice. Elena Temple uses a very simple set of controls, moving left or right, jumping at a fixed height with the A button and being able to fire two shots from her handgun with the B button. Each screen is the same size, so you don’t have to worry about them scrolling or being too long to figure out, which does help keep the pacing up.
Littered around most of the screens are golden coins, either laid out in the open, or hidden in breakable vases. Each item you obtain acts as a checkpoint, so if you die from hazards or the few enemies in the game, you’ll respawn right back where you were, which makes the punishment for death incredibly light. That being said, you’ll still need to be on your guard, as in order to break open every vase on a screen you’ll have to carefully manage your very limited ammo, which will run out with only two shots and will thus require you to backtrack and refill your ammo in order to try again. (Luckily, ammo is everywhere so this takes no time at all) Sometimes, you might even have to use four shots, two from ammo you had before entering the room, and two from an ammo pickup in the same room. This does require some careful thought, but nothing too mindbending to hurt your head. Of course, shooting the few enemies in the game is useful for solving certain rooms or reducing the frustration a bit, and there’s even a very small amount of multi-screen puzzles that require shooting an enemy from a neighboring screen to find secret switches.
Speaking of secrets, Elena Temple has just three of them, in the form of secret scrolls that will fill your map out with useful info. From telling you if a room is 100% complete, to locating the remaining diamonds needed to escape and one that reveals the passageways to these scrolls, these three scrolls are of great use for the eagle-eyed player, but are relatively easy to find nevertheless. Really, the whole adventure is akin to a leisurely jog, with nothing too difficult or too easy to make you feel bored or frustrated, and eventually you’ll be able to escape with the bare minimum, or go for the full 120 coins, which should take around 2 hours if you’re an expert at the Metroidvania genre like I am.
In conclusion, The Adventures of Elena Temple was a really good metroidvania that came out of complete nowhere. While it can be beaten to 100% completion in around 2 hours or so, it’s a very, very fun two hours, and is one of the best $5 values on the Switch eShop. It’s certainly no Ninja Smasher or Guacamelee, but it is a great budget Metroidvania that provided me as much enjoyment now as Kamiko did for a while last year. The only big, big thing this game is lacking is an in-game timer and local leaderboards to encourage speedrunning, as I feel that could help this game’s replay value just a bit more. Nevertheless, if you’re into metroidvanias and don’t mind the simplistic gameplay, this is a must-buy.
I give The Adventures of Elena Temple an 8 out of 10, and I do recommend Metroidvania fans check this game out for a short but really fun mini-Metroid experience!