TxK PS Vita review – Arcade wonder raises the Tempest
Back in 1994, Jeff Minter shipped Tempest 2000 for Atari Jaguar and came as close as was possible to making the crummy old console worth buying. Unlike the Jag, there are a dozen good reasons to own a PS Vita already – and 20 years after Tempest 2000, Minter’s follow-up with TxK might be the best.
If you really want to delve into the history books, TxK, like Tempest 2000, is a remake of Dave Theurer’s 1980 arcade shooter (Theurer also created the brilliant Missile Command for Atari) – with the original’s black and white vectors replaced by all the colours in the world. Like Tempest, enemies appear at the end of the TxK’s webs and crawl their way towards your ship on the upper rim while you return fire and hold off the advancing horde – which is where the similarities end. Minter has dragged Tempest into the 21st century, stopping to grab a handful of techno tracks with a soundtrack that’s all new work by fans of the original game and brought the systems behind it entirely up to date.
Every enemy has a job – some trying to drag you down the web, some filling it with hazards to trap you when you exit the level, and others just narrowing down how much of the rim you can use. Your priorities constantly shift, moving from nothing more complicated than survival, to experimenting with the enemies’ behaviours and developing strategies, to high-score chasing as the game becomes more familiar and the all-out sensory assault is assimilated. And you will assimilate it, no matter how dazzling TxK is at first. The pounding beats and explosions of colour that used to punch you square in the brain fade into the background as time slows and TxK arrests every second of your attention the way few games ever can.