#16 Tempest

Posted: 24th November 2014 by Jeroen in Games
Tags: , , ,

382nd played so far

Tempest_arcadeGenre: Shoot ‘Em Up
Platform: Arcade
Year of Release: 1980
Developer: Atari
Publisher: Atari

Flashback time! We played the sequel of this game before, as Tempest 2000. Familiarity may occur.

Our Thoughts

With our other memorable remake, the rather deplorable and (to us) unnecessary Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes, we played the original before we played the remake. With Tempest, due to how things went (it’s nearly 300 games ago, I don’t know what our thought process three years ago was, possibly random selection) we played the remake before playing the original game.

What makes this tricky to judge is that the remake seems to have been incredibly faithful. There’s some graphics polish and an increased number of levels, but the game plays more or less the same. Possibly the only notable difference is of practicality: Tempest‘s position input is through a spinner you turn left or right, which doesn’t translate well into the arrow keys or joystick motions of consoles and PC. It ended up pretty fiddly for us.

When looking at the game itself, it feels somewhat futuristic for its age. It uses vector graphics – not the first to do so, as we saw with Asteroids, but with some improvements – such as a lot more colours. The game still looks pretty abstract – not odd when you consider the game takes place around a cube or abstract tunnel thing that enemies are crawling out of. Right now, it keeps the game timeless.

The control system adds to this as well. Although not the only one to work with a dial, it’s unconventional and different enough that it makes it feel different and unique. It makes you wonder what the game would have felt like to the first people playing it.

Then there are some of the additional features that were novel at the time, worth mentioning now, even if they feel common place. Apparently, this was one of the first games with a difficulty select, in the sense that it allowed you to pick your starting level. We’ll see that later – another early game, Donkey Kong, did the same (at least when I played it) but tailoring your game to your skills was a new thing that must have felt better, especially for the players used to the game who just want to progress.

Still, despite all the additions and good parts, the game mostly feels clumsy in its mechanics. It’s interesting as a concept and control method, but feels just as much as a stepping stone.

Final Thoughts

As mentioned this game has already been improved and updated a number of years later with the release of Tempest 2000. They play pretty much the same minus the controller issue so, really and truly, it’s worth picking up the update rather than the original.

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