Platform: PC (tested), PS4, Xbox One

Released: July 2018

Tempest 4000 is an arcade classic shoot em up that is absolutely superb to play and should be a complete no-brainer to recommend. It should… if you don’t already own TxK.

tempest 4000
Tempest 4000 is abstract shooting done right. Screenshots are fun but you lose the fluidity of its motion

The Tempest series is unique but morish. You control a shooting plane that fires bullets down geometric shapes that are always in tubes. The enemies you fight against climb up the walls of these tubes and your bullets go down them. It’s like a hyperactive lane defence game with lots of arcade graphical flair. Each level makes you collect powerups to upgrade your plane from scratch to have more powerful weapons, AI droids and a jump button that lets you leap over enemies should they breach your walls and start circling the perimeter that you’re stuck to. It’s fast, frenzied and an absolute blast and the perfect example of arcade adrenaline. When playing the game you are so focused on what’s going on – everything around you zones out. It is poetry in motion sometimes and that has to be commended.

tempest 4000
When the enemies come crawling – the screen gets very busy but in a way that draws you in

Llamasoft has released Tempest inspired games before since the developer Jeff Minter created the series, but Atari has the naming rights. Space Giraffe was a cutesy take on the lane shooting formula, mixing it with Pang to a point, whilst TxK was essentially a Tempest game through and through – updating the graphics and making the controls silky smooth. Now Jeff Minter and Atari have come back together Tempest 4000 is the natural new heir to the throne but despite it being the prettiest and most fluid game of the series to date – I’m disappointed.

The levels are directly taken from TxK, so are the powerups, so are the weapons and so is the flying through stars sections between levels. More colour? Yes. Worth another £19? Absolutely not. Aside from the 100 level main mode, there is a different soundtrack and 4k mode if you like it (no VR mode though which is strange since Polybius had it) – but a name does not justify a price hike from the still completely fantastic TxK on the PS Vita that’s £5.79 – to Tempest 4000 which is £24.99. Even the recent Polybius which is similar is £9.99 – is that how much a licence costs?

Positives

  • Timeless gameplay that is addictive and fantastic.
  • Graphics are retro-futuristic and help with the zen feel the game gives you.
  • Amazingly fluid controls.
  • The best example of synesthesia outside of Rez or Child of Eden.

Negatives

  • If you own TxK there is literally nothing new for you here outside playing on a console/PC.
  • Way overpriced compared to its source material.

Conclusion

Wait for this to be half price then snap it up and never let it go. Tempest 4000 is a superbly made game – but let’s not be fooled. This is TxK HD in all but name and after the years of legal wrangling about there is some major irony in that statement. If you’ve never played a Tempest game though – this is the best place to start and whilst I’d still recommend a price drop – you’ll be much less salty than I am with what you get!

If you like what I do, and would like to help me make better and more content then please consider supporting me via Patreon. Thank you.

A copy of the game was provided by the developer for review.

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