Gaming Editor Louis Wright reviews The Elephant Collection finding it to be an effective collection and archive
The Elephant Collection was received for free for review purposes
Since Adobe Flash’s shutdown in 2021 many games that previously used the service as an engine have been seeing individual releases on platforms like Steam for prosperity and archival purposes. The most recent of these is The Elephant Collection, a collection of the ‘Blue Elephant’ games by jmtb02, initially released on Armor Games. Featuring many classic games from the history of Adobe Flash, the collection presents them in a new package that is conveniently accessible.
This is the Only Level 1, 2, and 3
This is the Only Level is the most iconic part of The Elephant Collection. As the name suggests, each game utilises a single level where, upon reaching the goal the level resets. At each reset a new gimmick is put into place, being hinted at via the name of each reset.
Most of these gimmicks involve changing the control schemes, like reversing the controls or moving them to the mouse from the arrow keys, applying different physics, such as stronger gravity or wind, or removing certain movement options, like the ability to jump. This creates an environment where, like the name suggests, there may only be one level the game remains engaging.
The variety of gimmicks introduced and the way the game provides a learning environment, through not having lives making death relatively risk free, allows for the game to build upon itself in interesting ways. Allowing the player to experiment with the boundaries of each gimmick, and find their own solution to the puzzle that each reset stages, is This is the Only Level’s defining quality.
For a game initially built in Flash, This is the Only Level (and its two sequels included in the collection) are innovative, thought provoking, and designed in such a way to work with the limits of their engine. They are the games that are the most accessible and well developed within the collection.
Achievement Unlocked 1, 2, and 3
There is something strangely therapeutic about collecting achievements in a video game. It makes it feel as though all of the countless hours spent gaming are not wasted, but rather you have been rewarded for your time and dedication. If regular achievement hunting is the equivalent of a nice, warming cup of coffee; Achievement Unlocked and its sequels are a caffeine shot being pumped straight into the vein.
Everything in these games unlocks an achievement of some description. Moving, jumping, dying, touching every block, finding hidden rooms, and even unlocking achievements unlocks achievements. Progress is made and monitored through the notifications constantly flying onto the screen while playing, telling the player they have done something of note.
Similarly to This is the Only Level, Achievement Unlocked works fantastically as a Flash game. Its concept is simple, well-executed, and self-contained leading to little issues when playing. However, this simplicity means that there is little replayability to the game past an initial playthrough. Achievements remain the same throughout meaning the actions needed to complete the game will always be the same; this is good for speedruns but not much else.
Achievement Unlocked as a series of three games are easy to appreciate. They take a simple premise and run with it, creating a memorable and enjoyable experience that is, effectively, a hit of dopamine for any gamer. Unfortunately, for those who are not intensive gamers looking to optimise their playthrough of these games, Achievement Unlocked are one and done affairs.
Elephant Quest is the game in The Elephant Collection that feels the most fleshed out and in-depth. Centring on, shockingly, an elephant quest; the player is placed into a magical world filled with elephant folk to track down an evil mammoth who stole the titular elephant’s hat (it was a cool hat).
To aid in the player’s elephant quest, they are given many abilities. Jumping and waddling around are the standard (despite the elephant’s inability to jump in real life) but the laser beam that the player can shoot at enemies (which elephant’s also cannot do in real life) adds a level of intensity to the game.
When the player defeats enemies with this laser, they are awarded experience points. This is when the true depth of Elephant Quest comes into play, as the levelling system allows for an expansion of the player’s abilities in a way that no other game in the collection provides (which none of them really needed to do either).
Upon levelling up the player earns skill points that they can then use in the skill tree, in turn the skill tree provides tokens that the player can use to improve certain abilities. These abilities range from better movement speed, or a more accurate laser, to being able to summon miniature elephant drones that do your bidding and annihilate your foes.
Elephant Quest’s biggest failing is that it is almost too ambitious for a Flash game. Quest management for the number of little elephants you have to help is abysmal, making it difficult to keep track of what you need to be doing. When this is the main draw of the game it becomes conflicting during play, especially, as with many Flash games, it is only played for short bursts of time.
Out of all of the games in The Elephant Collection, Elephant Quest stands out amongst its brethren. It’s ambitious, large in scale, but ultimately difficult to get into for its poor presentation. The conformity it tries to keep with other elephant themed games ultimately hinders it more than anything else.
Obey! the Game
Obey! the Game can be best summarised as “It’s giving WarioWare.” That is to say, it’s a fast-paced microcosm of microgames that require the player to react to basic tasks in a limited stretch of time. The twist that Obey! the Game offers is the game randomly ordering the player to ‘Disobey!’ what it tells them to do, requiring them to avoid what was previously the main objective.
This concept is incredibly addictive and encourages the player to aim for a higher score each time they play. Requiring fast reflexes, and an understanding of what the game could throw at you; it is challenging, almost aggravatingly so when a high score is squandered by a silly mistake. But any mistake that is made is that of the player, as the game never changes its concept and only becomes increasingly faster meaning any action is solely on the player’s skill.
There are criticisms to be had with Obey! the Game. Namely, the variety of microgames present is fairly small. This is somewhat alleviated by the ‘Disobey!’ command, but after even shorter play sessions this results in repetitive action. Secondly the action that needs to be taken is written on the screen on the actual microgame, giving less time to process the information and respond. In comparison to WarioWare! again, there the action is displayed on the screen before the microgame begins giving more chance to respond.
Obey! the Game is, simply put, fun. Between its variety of modes, a fun twist on a strong concept, and its addictive nature, Obey! the Game is a game that is easy to return to again and again within The Elephant Collection.
Run, Elephant, Run
Intense, stylised, and addicting; three words that describe Run, Elephant, Run. And does Elephant ever run. Contextualising Elephant as a world famous celebrity from his successful Flash game series trying to get home to his wife in Africa, Run, Elephant, Run provides a level of narrative and heart that elevates it.
Unique in the collection for its presentation, Run, Elephant, Run uses real life imagery as stage props for Elephant to interact with and work around. This makes not only the lead character stand out against his backdrop, making him easier to follow for the player in the intensity of an infinite runner, but also the obstacles he can be harmed by, which are not stylised in the same way. The purposeful disjoint between background and interactable objects highlights important information at a glance for the player, where in a high-speed game every second counts.
The gameplay is smooth. Elephant controls fantastically well and his double jump is as stylish as the rest of the game. Snap decisions can be made and responded to in an instant to help evade obstacles at the last possible moment. The gameplay loop is also easy to understand and is well introduced, with a safe environment first being introduced to allow the player to get used to the controls before then difficulty ramps up.
Run, Elephant, Run posits itself as the most fun game within The Elephant Collection. A standard infinite runner, it plays into the genre well. But what makes it stand out is its presentation and aesthetic choices being well designed and accomplishing an art-style that is unique and fits the action-packed gameplay.
Elephant Rave is the newest game introduced in The Elephant Collection. Acting as a contextualisation for the existence of the collection, it poses the titular Elephant as a washed up remnant of Flash Games long gone, trying to reclaim his former glory in order to find his missing wife.
Aesthetically, Elephant Rave lives up to its name. Not for the photosensitive player, the game produces constant flashing lights that are an instantaneous game over if they are touched. This encourages fast paced movement in a bright, colourful space; reminiscent of a rave.
Gameplay-wise, Elephant Rave is addicting and designed in a way to push the player further and further. You are meant to fail the first time you play Elephant Rave. But gradually, as the pattern of the games are learnt, more and more of the game is made accessible.
Its inclusion in the collection, as a mandatory play when opening the game, leans into this concept of gradual improvement well. The more The Elephant Collection is played the more Elephant Rave is played. And the more Elephant Rave is played the better the player is at it. However, this integration can easily backfire on the design of the game. If there is one particular game that the player wants to play from The Elephant Collection, they will have to play Elephant Rave first which can become annoying with enough launches of the game.
While fun, Elephant Rave can find itself being annoying at times if only for its mandatory play session. This does not mean that it is a bad inclusion, as out of all of the games in the collection, it is the one most suited to this format.
The Elephant Collection is exactly what it needs to be. As an archive it means the ‘Blue Elephant’ games are accessible for generations to come, and as a standalone collection of games it provides a nice variety of genres and gameplay to justify its existence. There are some aspects to the collection that could be improved, for example providing more incentive to play all of the games past aesthetic medals on their doorways. However these are minor changes that The Elephant Collection can exist without.
Read more Gaming reviews here: