The Elephant Collection Review
I’m happy that Adobe has closed down its Flash program. The program was used to launch the careers of so many people through animation, art, and, more importantly, videogame development. The mid ’00s to the late ‘10s were the era of “Flash games” on the internet, and it can be argued which part was the “golden age of Flash”. The alternative is that Adobe leaves the program behind, making it obsolete in a year or so, as fans get mad on reddit.
Now that it’s gone, it opens up a new era for indie developers and animators to use more up-to-date software for their projects. But I hear you ask in this hypothetical ecosphere: what are the creators of these old Flash games doing now? Some console titles were made on Adobe Flash (Alien Hominid, Machinarium), while other developers transitioned their focus outside of the free game websites like Newgrounds, publishing on Steam (The Last Stand: Aftermath, Infectonator 3: Apocalypse) under Armor Games Studios.
But it seems that, since the end of Flash in 2020, more and more Flash games I played as a teen are being re-released on Steam, which I’m happy about — don’t get me wrong. One of these games I played in the computer lab of my high school has been scooped up into a package called The Elephant Collection. Developed by jmtb02, the game is a library of puzzle rooms and levels starring an elephant that spans the aforementioned “golden age of Flash”.
Upon launching the game, you are subjected to horizontal scrolling text over a cloudy sky backdrop explaining how it’s been 15 years or so since the last instalment in the Wonderful Elephant series. To get the blue elephant to perform tasks again, his partner, the pink elephant, has been kidnapped. A cheerful track mixed between chiptune and royalty-free plays throughout it until the music changes tempo as you hit the first level called the Elephant Rave. Dodging light beams firing down, it’s meant to teach players the controls and the theme of the game itself in a chaotic display of flashing lights, which you play until you get hit, knocking you down into the hub world.
Set chronologically, each stage in the hub world represents the advance of the developers’ skill and world-building in the later games, starting with basic concepts and going further with them. Though, with a total of 10 games (including the Elephant Rave) in the one package, there’s at least one thing or game mode you’d like. Especially as the game cannot just rely on nostalgia to sell itself.
In a brief summary of the games on offer:
This is the Only Level (1–3) take place in one room with the elephant dropped out of a pipe in a room with platforms and pipes. You then hit a button in the middle of the room to open a gate, and finally move to the next exit pipe for the level to be complete. The gist is that the level repeats with different ways to finish it, as hinted in the level’s title.
Achievement Unlocked is an achievement hunter. To win, you have to get all the achievements (tasks listed on the top left of the screen). Some of them are super easy to do, like staying still for a moment in time or solving mathematical or physics goals. The first entry takes place in one room, while the next two entries take place in two or more rooms to complete.
Obey! The Game has the player do tasks within a quick time limit, with each stage going faster than the last. Accompanied by fast-paced music, for one second, a brief description of what you’re meant to do flashes onto the screen before disappearing. To keep your attention, some of the mini-games will flash red with the message “don’t” next to the description, hinting you to do the opposite.
Run, Elephant, Run takes place on a tour around the world to see the blue elephant’s wife, where you (the elephant) must dodge obstacles on a side-scrolling adventure. Starting on the west coast of the US, you go from country to country and continent to continent to see your one true love. The visual design of the game is completely different from the other titles, using realistic stock photo backgrounds and JPEG obstacles.
Elephant Quest is larger than the others (in the scope of the others), where you must travel to different biomes composed of rooms to reclaim your stolen bowler hat from the mammoth Wooly. Equipped with a laser defence system, the elephant must go on the “quest” as well as help other elephants along the way. The game also contains an RPG system with an integer-based skill tree.
The earlier titles found on the first and second levels in the hub world have basic, almost simplistic graphics, as they were the first few games in the series. As stated in the This is the Only Level description, the games were more compact and easier to understand, and the humour was more direct. In the later games, it shows off how the successes (and development work of the previous titles) gave jmtb02 more confidence to create elaborate concepts and missions. As noted in the third and final instalment of Achievement Unlocked, you have to use coins you find in the several rooms to buy pellets for an obese Hamster King to eat, with a whole narrative surrounding it.
All of the games in the collection have HD remastering to their graphics, though I’d say the word “remastering” is just a fancy way of saying the visuals were updated to look more modern. The people responsible for the remaster did a great job with it, still keeping the aesthetic while also giving the game a new polish and shine.
While the visuals of the series improved over time, the music and sound effects roughly stayed the same. Relying on royalty-free music (I know because I’ve heard them used in YouTube let’s play videos back in the day), the earlier games looped them to a point where it became tedious to listen to. I’d like to say the games got better soundtracks in the later titles, but they almost sound the same; maybe they were made to imitate royalty-free tunes.
All in all, The Elephant Collection is a blast from the past that has kept its shine for the more nostalgic fanbase as well as introducing new players to the series, cementing the games into a new system rather than letting them die with Adobe Flash. But I wish my rose-tinted games were not worn down from the remastering of other childhood games — calling it definitive, but the character models look like they’re made of clay and have no souls.
The Elephant Collection (Reviewed on Windows)
This game is great, with minimal or no negatives.
The Elephant Collection rampages onto a new system (and potential fanbase) while also keeping its charm from all these years.