Tempest 2000 (DOS)

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100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
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Written by  :  Satoshi Kunsai (2093)
Written on  :  Feb 15, 2001
Platform  :  DOS
Rating  :  4.5 Stars4.5 Stars4.5 Stars4.5 Stars4.5 Stars

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YaK's sadistic, ingenious design is just the thing Tempest needed!

The Good

Ok, before I begin, I have to say this: I've been an absolute Tempest freak since I was old enough to know how to work the arcade machine's controls, so I know my Tempest. And I can say: Tempest 2000 has made me damn proud of Atari and Jeff "YaK" Minter. THIS is how to properly power up and update a game for the modern age!

It all starts when you first fire up the game: you know you're in for a wild ride when you first get a glimpse of the crazy, colorful graphics and menu screen. You decide to start a new game...hmm, three choices, eh? There's Plus, which is a slightly souped up version of Traditional Tempest, Tempest Duel, which is a two player battle royale using the T2K engine, and then....the game proper...Tempest 2000.

With quivering hands, you choose Tempest 2000. Prepare yourself...

The first thing you'll notice is the fast paced, bass thumping techno music as the Web Select screen appears. Start with the first, as it's a good way to get your feet wet in this game. The first web spins into view on your screen...

Congratulations, you've reached Gamer's Heaven.

To begin everything, the gameplay is just as fast and as furiously manical as the original Tempest, and it just gets even crazier from there. The control is dead simple: move left, move right, fire, jump (with the proper Power-Up), and SuperZapper. No fancy-shamcy "tap 10 buttons to jump" here, just two directions, and three functions. The game starts out quite easy, but as you start advancing into the later boards, you'd better keep your eyes on everything, because pretty soon the enemies come in huge numbers, and then you start seeing more and more nasties abound, such as the Pulsars, UFOs, and Demon Heads. Blast enemies and you'll receive some awesome Power-Ups, which include the rapid-fire Particle Laser, the ablity to jump, and the A.I. Droid, which actually LIVES UP TO ITS NAME!!! WOOOO!!! This is about the ONLY game I've seen where A.I. actually MEANT something! It floats all about the web, trashing enemies that are outside of your firing range, saving your butt and allowing you to concentrate on enemies coming towards you. This leads up to some pretty wild shooting sprees!

Cosmetic wise, the graphics aren't anything too flashy or pretty, but they're very good and get the job done right. Besides, this is an update to a vector game here; why do you need polygons and lens flare and such?! The goraud shading on the web is pretty cool, and I like how the web pulsates with color as you play. Admit it, though: you just have GOT to love the Warp bonus rounds, with their trippy designs and the music giving you the feel of just floating lazily in space. And of course, since this is Jeff Minter we're talking about here, expect PLENTY of crazy, wildly colored graphical effects.

Sounds and music? Both are excellent. The sounds include plenty of LOUD explosions, and most of the other sounds seem a bit reminiscent of the original Tempest. Perfectly mixed and matched. And the music...bass thumping, fast paced, room shaking techno (NOT Euro-beat or Rave, thank God!) gets you into the "Mood": an almost trance-like state where you just rely on instinct and subliminal reflex to play T2K, and the perfect compliment to the fast and furious action onscreen. The best part is that the PC version has all of its music in Redbook format, so if you enjoyed the music a great deal, you can pop it into any CD player and jam to it whenever you wish! Just don't listen to the music in the car...you may start getting into the "Mood" and pretend everything you see is a Tempest enemy...:)

The Bad

Not a lot, but this is related mainly to the PC version: first, the DOS version is a pain to get playing properly, and a few effects that the Jaguar and Sega Saturn versions had (like transparencies, plasma effects, and the superb "Melt-O-Vision") are sadly missing.

For all of you gaming scrubs out there: stay CLEAR of T2K: this game gets EXTREMELY hard by the time you pass the 50th web, and if you're not man enough to play a real game, your game ends there.

Finally, I don't know why Imagitec (the people who ported T2K to the PC) bothered with an FM soundtrack...it stinks! The songs sound terrible and it hardly puts you into the "Mood" like the CD Audio does. Thankfully, you don't have to use the FM soundtrack.

The Bottom Line

This game should be used as a lesson on how to PROPERLY make a modern update of a classic game. If you ever see this game anywhere, pick it up, and prepare to witness what goes on inside the mind of one of the craziest, wildest, and sadistic minds in the game industry. YaK, you've done this Tempest fan proud!