Tempest 1000, review from college

When I was in college studying video games we were asked to review an older game. I found a version of Tempest on a flash website. Here was the outcome.

Aliens are coming, pouring through a black hole in the very fabric of time and space itself to tear our race from limb to limb, or make contact and drink themselves into another reality in our company. Whatever their intent, here you are, perched on the edge of the wormhole, armed with nothing more than your spaceship, reflexes and an intense Xenophobia, ready to disperse their atoms into space, proving space is a vacuum, not a place that needs to be vacuumed. In space, no one can hear you clean!

And so the scene is set for Tempest 1000. This is a game that requires quick reactions and timing to shoot down the enemy spaceships. They come out of the black hole in random waves. There are purple slow moving ones, and green ones that zoom by. Also in the way of variety there are faster moving purple ones that shoot boxy white beams at you, proving they are a highly advanced species after all. Any enemy alien that reaches your level on the wormhole will move around after you, to collide with you and take his or her (or its) own lives as well as yours, therefore making intergalactic insurance claims vastly chaotic in terms of paperwork. Probably.

To make your life easier you have a number of gravity defying jumps. Using these you can rain down fire on any enemy that tries to use the fore mentioned tactic. But remember these jumps are limited to 3 per level. You may also use one megablast per level, sending all enemies on the screen back to their creator in very small pieces with the note “in case of reincarnation, some assembly may be required”. But use this wisely

Level progression occurs when you have cleared all the enemies on the current level. You are then sucked down the wormhole to an almost identical wormhole to fight with faster and more numerous enemies.

This game was the brainchild of http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dave_Theurerin Atari and was one of the first games that had 3D vector Graphics. It is very hard to find the original arcade incarnation of Tempest in its true form outside of getting an arcade cabinet, or purchasing an Arcade emulator. But many excellent conversions exist on the web, thanks to the cross platform (cough) wonder that is Java. Reviewed below is the closest Tempest 1000 clone I could find available at this time. The search continues to find one closer to the arcade machine. Be assured though, I will not rest until I do. Well ok then, maybe the odd snooze and a break to play this.

Sound:

Dreadful, even for its time. The Java version has all the flair of buzzing wasps, stuck in a bean tin, fighting to the death for the love of another wasp or a Solpadine tablet, only to be invaded by riot police wasps with chainsaws. Overall lots of pings, treble and buzzing in a bean tin style environment. I remember walking away from the original Arcade cabinet with the distinct feeling I was in a nightclub for a few days, or listening to Happy Hardcore. Ears ringing, if its nostalgia you are after, use headphones with this. It will bring back memories, or headaches.

Score: 5, Functional, but play some background music in case you feel the need to scratch the inside of your brain with a biro introduced via your nose. Neither medical insurance nor the medical card will cover that. Or so I hear.

Graphics:

Solid and functional, with an excellent sense of perspective. There are times you really feel you are on the edge of a vast black hole somewhere in the universe sending the alien nasties back to the evil spawning ground from whence they came. Earlier version such as the arcade cabinet had simple dotted lines for the black hole arranged to give the sense of perspective, later version had the sides of the black hole change colour from level to level. Each version keeps the simplicity. An excellent feature of this game is that prolonged exposure can cause a slight queasy feeling, made all the worse by the jump action and the fact that as you move around the edge of the black hole it tilts slightly. There is a cool falling effect when you are sucked into the black hole and placed on the next level.

The enemy ships and your ship are believable and recognisable in an early Sci-Fi kind of way. Things that can kill you (i.e. everything) are very visible and your weapon projectile is a little underpowered looking but nonetheless effective.

Score: 8, Awesome for its time and excellent now, stands the test of time well, simple and clear. I would have given it a higher score but it lacks special effects like explosions. Top marks nonetheless.

Gameplay:

I was going to write this review about 2 hours ago, and get some other stuff done, but this is a game that makes you want to come back for more. Constantly. There is very little variation in level design, even if this was one of the first games to have varying levels, although I am sure this version is missing some of the more unusual level designs of the original. There is a distinct feeling of satisfaction of getting as far as number 5 in the high score table and feeling proud you have done so well to repel the evil invasion. I would prefer to play the game with a joystick as opposed to a keyboard though. RSI inducing.

This is one of the few games that pass the test of time again and again. This was released on the Atari Jaguar (remember that) as Tempest 2000, with improved sound that actually made you feel like you were in a rave (I.e. naff really). But the original is still the best.

Score:10, fantastic replay value, replay value, replay value, replay value, I cannot say it enough, thank you copy and paste.

Overall: 7.6

This is a fantastic Tempestuous (couldn’t resist) battle against the Aliens in some far-flung hole (literally) in the galaxy and stands the test of time.

In the future you will be in your spaceship on the edge of a black hole, listening to gravity distorted music on your intergalactic A-Track and wondering how time passes back home according to Stephen Hawking. Just remember your training on this simulator. Forget about your loved ones and don’t worry whether or not you left the gas on in your house. If the Aliens get through your house will be a charred crisp anyway. Just start jumping moving and keep on blasting. The invasion must be repelled.

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