Tempest has always been one of those games that my Dad speaks about fondly, but that I didn’t experience all that much. I’m only in my twenties after all, and given that the original launched in 1981 it was a little bit before my time. That’s not to say that I don’t have an appreciation of it though and I’ve certainly been excited to check out its newly released modern iteration Tempest 4000. Is it a great arcade revival worthy of the name though, or is this one video game that should’ve just stayed in the 80s?
Have you ever played Tempest or Jeff Minter’s 2014 release TxK? If yes, you’ll know exactly what to expect from Tempest 4000 – it’s essentially the same game with a modern lick of paint.
That means leading a ship known affectionately as the Claw through a series of wireframe-like levels, all whilst traversing across ever-changing lanes and blasting away at an assortment of enemies with your lasers. There’s an ever-growing influx of enemies marching your way though, so you’ll have to either kill or avoid them as they look to bring an end to your attempt at racking up a high score. Add to the experience a bunch of different power-ups, the ability to jump over enemies when they approach, and some neat screen-clearing bombs, and it all makes for a fun nostalgia-filled time.
There are a hundred levels to work through, with each one both changing in design and with the enemies that it throws your way. You’d think given Tempest 4000’s easy-going concept that it might struggle a little to keep things varied and interesting, but each level does manage to offer a new challenge to the player. That’s not to say that it doesn’t keep things simple though, with the game rarely changing up too much as you progress from a gameplay perspective – that’s alright though because it just so happens to be a lot of fun.
If you enjoyedthe aforementioned TxK or the previous releases of Tempest, you’re really going to be in your oils with Tempest 4000. It absolutely nails the arcade-feel of the original and looks the part too with its fancy new visuals, whilst the core gameplay mechanics feel identical. Unfortunately, that might also be a problem for some gamers.
I don’t want to knock Tempest 4000 too muchbecause it has a classic and well-loved formula, but I found myself tiring of it quick. Sure, it tempted me in with that good old ‘one more go’ hook for the first couple of hours, but eventually it felt like it just came down to simply chasing high scores – something I’ve never been too fond of. There are multiple game modes to try out, but a lot of it boils down to the same thing with different challenges thrown your way. It’s appreciated, but they didn’t do enough to really keep me intrigued for long.
There is certainly fun to be had working through all of the levels and modes, but I’d probably say it’s an experience that’s going to be most appreciated by high-score chasers and those who love Jeff Minter’s work. There’s a lot of repetition on show and not always enough variety to keep it enthralling after spending more than a few hours playing.
Visually, everything looks as hectic as you’d expect from Jeff Minter. There’re plenty of vivid colours on show, an intense amount of action constantly going on, plenty of wireframes (obviously), and even a few cheeky nods to the game’s heritage. It’s all very old-school in its visual style, but changing it up too much would’ve simply deterred from the overall experience; Tempest 4000 prides itself on the nostalgia factor as much as it does in providing a modern-feeling endeavour, and the visuals simply help maintain the purity of it all.
Tempest 4000 absolutely nails the vibe of the original game and is littered with those little Jeff Minter touches, but there’s no doubting that that it’ll be most appreciated by gamers who love the nostalgic feel of score-chasing. That’s not to say that that the game itself isn’t enjoyable though, with the hectic level design and intense showdowns with enemies proving to be a lot of fun – I just started to tire of it after a few hours of play.
Anyone who loved the original Tempest, TxK or Jeff Minter’s work in general will certainly enjoy Tempest 4000 though, as will those who enjoy a good old fashioned arcade experience that’s all about getting the highest score possible. It might’ve not have been a game that kept me hooked in for a long time, but the time I did spend with it was well spent.
Release Date: Out Now
Format(s): PlayStation 4 (Reviewed), Xbox One, PC