Updating a classic game is never easy. Some stay true, some don't, and some (like Pac-Mac going 3D) go completely nuts. Tempest 4000 is the latest update of a classic game. How did it do? Let's find out!
I've never really figured out the plot of Tempest. Like many early games, the best you can assume is that you're in space shooting things. It's not really much of a story, so grading the story on Tempest 4000 is like grading the story on Pong. It's pure pleasure – story doesn't matter.
Gameplay is much like classic Tempest. You're a spaceship (probably) going down shooting enemies, but with a twist. Instead of being a pure vertical game, you work around a tunnel going around in a circle. It was unique as hell for the time, and in Tempest 4000 you're working in other shapes, like horseshoes. You also get different ammunition, different enemies, different speeds – it all adds up for a constantly changing experience. I wasn't a fan of the ship, as in the game it's this yellow walker thingy that doesn't sit right. But overall, it's modern take on a classic. If it was a restaurant, Gordon Ramsey would be proud, but would want a change of logo.
Being Steam, controls were pretty good. I had a little trouble moving my guy around. Your character walks like a pincer, and even at full toggle, it would do a slow crawl for a bit, then go really fast out of nowhere. I also had issues with it during non circle maps. It didn't move right, as it had this effect at bends of slowing down then going fast, like it was hugging the curve. Shooting and everything was fine, but the controls for the pincer character was a bit sticky.
The graphics were, and I quote, “great”. Well mostly. Laser beams, bright animations and the centerpiece wired tube center all looked great. A mix of retro and modern, it's amazing and I felt almost hypnotized by it. Even the pincer character works. The problem is other characters and some of the ammo. It's obvious and doesn't fit in. It's like those bits are ten years behind art-wise and colorwise, and they stick out. It's like Kidpix graphics in a PS4 game. It's out of nowhere. Like some of the aliens that come up. It's copy and paste in a completely different art scheme and sticks out terribly, although it gave me a great reason to kill them. Mostly good, but everyone once in a while the artwork takes a glaring turn for the worse.
The sound and music are exquisite. Classic shooty/space sounds mixed with techno music. Add in the multi colored graphics and you honestly won't want to leave. If this was available to kids in 1981 some might still be standing there putting quarters in the cabinets. With that mix it's so enjoyable and addicting you really don't want it to end.
The frame rate was good. In fact, I though my character issues were frame rate before I discovered the controller issue. No glitches either except for some of the poorer graphics blatantly going past boundaries at points, but that's more like sloppy craftsmanship (honestly, I think there were two art teams based on the glaring differences). It played smoothly, what can I say.
Tempest 4000 nails the nostalgia, style, art (mostly), music and sounds. Even with a few hiccups, I found this game addicting, visually great (mostly), and most of all, fun. A few parts could have used some polish, and a few of the graphics just robbed the experience away from you at times, but otherwise this is a great update of the original and I'd recommend it.
Final Score: 8 out of 10
A copy of this game was provided for the purpose of review.