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[Review] The Adventures of Elena Temple: Definitive Edition – Nintendo Switch

By John Bush Jan28,2020

The Adventures of Elena Temple: Definitive Edition
Nintendo Switch

Developed By: GrimTalin
Published By: GrimTalin
Category: Action, Arcade, Platformer, Puzzle
Release Date: 12.24.19

The hardest part of retro gaming is often finding hardware that still works; old consoles don’t last forever, after all. Developer GrimTalin has come up with a pretty original way to solve that problem: virtually create facsimiles of past consoles and/or computers, and let players play different versions of the same game on those consoles. It’s brilliant in its simplicity, and the game we get out of it – The Adventures of Elena Temple – isn’t half bad to boot. The Adventures of Elena Temple: Definitive Edition launched in December, complete with all of the game’s expansion content. It’s a Metroidvania-style love letter to early 80s PC/Console gaming, and it’s as good at evoking nostalgia for that era as any game actually released for the Commodore 64.

Adventures of Elena Temple Definitive Edition

It Belongs In a Mu- OK, She’s Just Gonna Hawk It For Cash, But At Least People Can See It Now, Right?

Elena Temple! That daredevil adventurer, as famous for her exploits as her tendency to get in trouble slightly over head, is back for the first time with three separate adventures! The Adventures of Elena Temple: Definitive Edition sees Elena tackling three different ancient sites in search of three legendary treasures. OK, so real talk: the story probably isn’t the reason you’re playing this game. It’s… light, even by old-school platformer standards. You get one screen of vague background to start each adventure, and then one more at the end, and that’s pretty much it. I appreciate the developers at least having some kind of storyline, though, so I’ll give it a pass. Plus, the game’s so darn fun a lack of story really doesn’t matter.

Adventures of Elena Temple Definitive Edition

Lara Who? Indiana What?

The Adventures of Elena Temple is a perfect example of how gameplay can be simple to understand but complex to master. At first glance, the simplicity of the controls seem almost too easy; you can move back and forth, jump, and fire your gun, which only holds two bullets. Luckily, these ancient tombs are fully stocked with magically-replenishing ammunition in pretty much every room. You can use the gun to shoot snakes, scorpions, monstrous bats, cacti, switches, and pottery. You can also press switches without shooting them, but where’s the fun in that?

Pressing switches will do useful things like open hidden doors or reorient a room’s platforms. The game’s platforming puzzles are the real star of the show, gameplay-wise. As you progress through the three different adventures, new wrinkles like platforms that alternate between tangible and intangible every time you jump and warp gates are introduced, but the basic platforming action stays the same. Avoiding spikes, snakes, scorpions, and ghosts goes hand-in-hand with exploring new rooms, flipping switches, and jumping over spikes (so, so many spikes) in search of coins, scrolls, and ancient treasures.

Adventures of Elena Temple Definitive Edition

Glittering Prizes

The Adventure of Elena Temple is very, very clearly intended to evoke a past era, but it smartly adds some modern touches that make the game feel more complete and satisfying. There are all kinds of collectibles; each stage has lots of coins to collect, as well as a special collectible needed to enter the final room like diamonds or magic jewels. You don’t need to collect all the coins to finish, but you do need to get the special items. At the end of each adventure, you get a summary telling you how you did, which is great for people who enjoy speedrunning games to keep track of how they did. Finally, the game has achievements! Not only does it have achievements, it has pop-up icons telling you when you have earned an achievement! GrimTalin understands that the whole point of achievements is being told you have achieved something; games that have achievements but no notifications might as well not have achievements at all.

Adventures of Elena Temple Definitive Edition

I’ve Heard of Multi-Console Releases, But This Is Ridiculous

The most unique aspect of The Adventures of Elena Temple is the ability to switch between “consoles” at will during gameplay. There are seven different off-brand console types from which to choose, parodying/homaging classic gaming platforms like the Commodore 64, MS-DOS PCs, Game Boys, and old Macs. The graphics change to reflect the capabilities of each system, swapping color palettes to simulate whichever dot matrix or CRT monitors apply to the system. While the graphics could be considered crude compared to many modern pixel art games, they are true to the time period and I can’t hold that against the game.

Adventures of Elena Temple Definitive Edition

Build A Temple for Elena

The Adventures of Elena Temple: Definitive Edition is a fantastic collection of content inspired by the retro-est of home console video games. It combines solid platforming action, a cool multi-console graphical mechanic, and modern touches such as achievements to create a uniquely original retro experience. It’s a little on the short side, if I’m being honest, but for the fun it packs in it’s worth some games with ten times the playtime. If you’re a fan of video gaming history, or just fun games in general, pick it up.


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*A game code was provided for review purposes.

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