Many years back I went to school to learn how to write code and program computers. Since then I have been a consultant in the software field for many years. I have to admit that when I heard that a single developer created The Adventures of Elena Temple, I was extremely impressed. Just the thought of taking on a personal project and then having the resolve to see it through to completion is amazing. It’s one thing to write a business application as a single developer which is hard enough, but to completely write a game by yourself is entirely another. You are responsible for all game content from graphics to writing the music to gameplay. Now, one thing I should mention here is that back in the Atari days of the early part of the ‘80s, there were many stories about single developers making games. Some were just not very good. So how does this title compare against the fire hose of games coming out for the Switch?
The virtualization of monitors that we used to play games on is a very nice touch. There are seven virtual machines; some are black and white, others are black with the iconic green graphics, plus a few others. Each virtual system has a backdrop of an environment that would most likely be where you may play them. Back in the Super Nintendo days, they released a product called Super Game Boy and you could play your Game Boy games on your TV. It, too, had the virtualization of the handheld on the screen. Since we here at Nintendo Times have an entire section of the site devoted to games 30 years ago today, this game fits in very nicely with that narrative. You can have a twinge of nostalgia, but play an entirely new game. You can’t really go wrong.
As you can tell by screenshots, the graphics pay homage to the oldest of platforming titles. There aren’t any fancy 3D effects, nor are there even any colors to the character or enemies on the screen. We are talking about minimalist efforts here and they’re very nicely done. We could go into the debate over whether less is more, but I feel that GrimTalin really captured the look she was aiming for. Since it is intentionally minimalist, it’s hard to say that the graphics are good. Yet they are since it achieves exactly what you need to enjoy playing.
The music is very good and fits with the theme of an archeologist searching for a way out of a tomb. It’s done with the familiar NES music sound and reminds me of all those titles we used to play in the 80’s and into the 90’s. Take into account that she wrote the music herself and it just adds to the admiration I have of this project. I can’t write music but that’s mostly because I don’t want to.
The game play is what you would expect. Your task is to maneuver Elena through over 50 rooms filled with spikes, snakes (why does it always have to be snakes?!), and bats. You have a weapon, but it must be like a double barrel handgun because it only holds two bullets. This does make ammunition as valuable as the coins you are trying to collect. GrimTalin mentions that each screen is like its own mini-level. I can wholeheartedly agree. There are areas you can only get to if you press a switch, time your jumps incredibly well, or shoot those nasty snakes, pillars, and even brick walls.
For such a simple façade, The Adventures of Elena Temple gives you an extremely satisfying puzzle adventure game. You really need to use your map to figure out ways to advance through the temple. Some rooms have openings on all sides, but you may not be able to get to the adjacent room because it’s blocked, you can’t jump high enough, or you may just need to hit a switch somewhere to move walls. Elena can’t duck or crawl. Therefore, if a spike is coming at you via a sliding platform, you just have to get out of the way because the “5 D’s of dodge ball” (Dodge, Dip, Duck, Dive, and Dodge) do not apply here.
At a very reasonable price tag of just $4.99, it’s really a good deal and will keep you entertained for hours. How long depends on how quickly you adjust to the puzzles and traps set before you. I really wanted to collect all the coins for this one. I don’t need achievements or trophies to reinforce this desire, I just like the challenge of getting to everything that’s available. I take my time and try to figure out how to get where it is seemingly impossible to go.
Whether you’re looking for a nostalgic trip back to the games of yesterday or if you’re looking for a challenging game to keep you occupied in the dentist’s office, The Adventures of Elena Temple would be a great fit for both. Even if you’re looking for a challenging platform adventure game, you may want to give this title a shot. You can’t beat the price and the return on investment is several hours of playing a fun game that isn’t as simple as it looks.
The Adventures of Elena Temple was reviewed using a final retail Nintendo Switch download code provided by the publisher.
Jay has been an avid gamer since the Intellivision days. His hobbies include building PCs, 3D modeling and printing, and spending time with his children and dog.