- Tempest -




DVD of the Week

Tempest - October 10, '99 by Dorsola

Good evening/morning/afternoon ladies and gents. :) Today, I'm gonna review another of my all-time favorite video games: Tempest. This really old game was one of the very first games I ever played as a kid - my parents owned a cocktail model - and I still would pump quarters into it if I could find a working machine anywhere locally.
Tempest was an incredibly new concept way back then - back when the videogame industry was being shaped by new and original concepts. You are a funny-looking polygonal "shooter" that sits at the end of a geometrically-shaped "tube," shooting particles at other things that are attempting to destroy or capture you. You're capable of firing multiple shots at once down each "lane" of the tube, and an analog knob gives you control over the shooter to move around along the edges. In addition to your standard shots, you are armed with a single "SuperZapper" for each level. When used, this mighty weapon will zap everything in the tube - useful if you get cornered. It is recharged after beating a level.
Your enemies consist of "Flippers", which move out to the edge of the tube and then flip around to capture your shooter; Tankers, which simply split into two flippers or other enemies; Spirals, which leave spikes in the lane (more on this later); Fuseballs, which travel along the edges of each lane and jump out to try to fry your shooter; and Pulsars, which can electrocute you from a long ways away! When you clear a round of all enemies, you warp through the tube and make a jump to the next level, which is basically another tube of a different shape and/or color. (This is where the spikes come in - if there are spikes in your tube, you have to either shoot them down or get out of the way as you're warping, because otherwise you may be broken apart!)
For the time, Tempest's graphics were light-years ahead of its time. Tempest is one of the first machines to employ a full-color vector screen, drawing lines and dots all over the place in brilliant red, green, blue, yellow, cyan, magenta and white. Everything on the screen is drawn in simple lines or "wire-frames," and the color schemes are pretty catchy. So Tempest earns itself an 8 for graphics from me. Sound is about average for a game of its time - buzzes, blips and modulated white noise make up the majority of the sound effects. There's no music in the game at all, and the SFX can sometimes get a little grating and repetitive. But one thing I liked about the sound - it was so satisfying to hear the "You hit something" sound repeated so quickly whenever I'd use a well-timed SuperZapper.
Tempest, and its more recent ROM modification known as "Tempest Tubes" (different-shaped tubes), is currently emulated by MAME and Retrocade. Both emulators have the game down perfectly, though last I checked, the game had a tendency to crash after a certain number of points were scored. At the time of this writing, I don't know if that bug was fixed. As for controls, the original knobs were nice, and are nicely emulated by the mouse. You shouldn't have any problem playing this game, which plays at full speed on just about anything. =)
Despite these shortcomings, Tempest is a very cool game. It's easy to get the hang of, but the game will keep going on forever and getting harder if you can last that long. 16 different tubes provide their own challenges, and each set of 16 levels has a different color scheme, with variations in the number of enemies on screen at one time, etc. I give it a full thumbs-up for both Challenge and Replay Value. One heckuva game - one heckuva company. :)
Play Control
Replay Value

Screen Shots

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