Tempest 2000

Atari Jaguar

from AEO Magazine, Volume 3, Issue 5

 |||   Tempest 2000 - Review 1

 |||   Review by: Jay T. Millar

/ | \  Delphi: JMILLAR


Back in the initial heyday of the video arcade, when technology took a

backseat to original game ideas, a game innocently named Tempest hit

the scene. This game was different than others, however, because it

combined an original idea with novel presentation. Because of its

unique position among video games, Tempest has been dubbed a classic

video game.

//// Enter 1994

With the advent of video game console hardware that surpasses that of

the arcades, Tempest has been reintroduced to a game market desperate

for innovative and lasting game ideas. Jeff Minter's resurrection of

Tempest in his game, Tempest 2000, for the Atari Jaguar repeats the

precedent set back in 1981. Tempest 2000 takes an innovative idea, and

reworks it with state-of-the-art hardware to create a package that

finally displays what we have always know the Atari Jaguar possessed:

enough raw processing power to befuddle the eyes and shake the house

at the same time.


//// Tempests Galore!


Four variations of the game Tempest can be found in the same


//// Traditional Tempest:

As close to the original as I remember it (except for the sound

effects and that unique wheel/spinner/knob controller), Traditional

Tempest emulates the arcade version we all know and love. Even the

levels and level progression is the same!

//// Tempest Plus:

This version adds elements from Tempest 2000 to the Traditional

Tempest version with a couple of unique differences. In Tempest Plus,

one can choose to play with a friend, creating a team version of

Tempest where the two Blasters (your "craft") appear on the web (the

playfield) at the same time. Also, one has the choice to play solo

with help from a friendly gent affectionately dubbed the "A.I.

Droid." The A.I. Droid is basically a rotating cube which floats

behind your Blaster and backs you up with an itchy trigger finger.

With the droid enabled, things are a little easier going and one can

train in a more friendly atmosphere.

//// Tempest 2000:

Tempest 2000 throws out all the stops with power ups, deadlier and

more varied foes, polygon-based rather than vector based objects,

shaded webs with smooth color cycling, and an ultra-slick techno-rave

soundtrack that will churn your blood!

//// Tempest Dual:

Tempest Dual allows a head-to-head competition between two players.

The display contains two views: one player on one end of the web and

the second player's view on the other end. Add to this environment,

mirrors and fatal geometrical objects, and you have enough for a

grueling dual between Blasters.


//// Let's Take a Look!


Let us focus on Tempest 2000 since it is the primary playing mode.

The objective of the game is still the same as the original: Blast the

hell out of everything while getting past the most levels as possible

with the greatest number of points. What Tempest 2000 adds to this

concept really makes the experience more enjoyable.

//// Viewing Modes:

The player has a choice of Blaster viewing modes. There is the

traditional fixed view mode where the web remains in the same

position during gameplay and perspective does not change. The default

viewing mode is the most visually pleasing. Your view of the web

actually moves in relation to how you move the Blaster, altering

perspective. The third viewing mode is the close-up mode, which, like

the default, moves the web in relation to your movement, but the

actual view is closer to your blaster. These three views are changed

by pressing any one of a group of three buttons on the controller and

can be accessed in any of the three non-dual game types.

//// Enemies:

A wide array of foes challenge your Blaster in Tempest 2000. The

weakest and most common is the Flipper. These enemies work their way

down a corridor, firing at your Blaster as they go, and flip around

the rim in an attempt to destroy you. The Flipper is the pawn of

Tempest 2000, not much of a challenge. Things get more interesting

when Spikers and Fuseballs are introduced. Spikers construct, believe

it or not, Spikes at the end of corridors which destroy your Blaster

if you encounter them on your ride out of the web after finishing a

level. Not particularly noticeable while blasting away at other

enemies, Spikers can sometimes be the most dangerous. One wrong move,

and you'll find yourself impaling your Blaster on a Spike, cursing

your ambivalence towards Spikers.

Fuseballs, on the other hand, are slightly more active in their

attempts to destroy you. Fuseballs are multi-colored, Medusa-like

wriggling lines which aren't confined to a fixed corridor like

Flippers. A Fuseball's purpose is to collide with your Blaster,

sending you to an untimely demise. Fuseballs are much more difficult

to destroy than Flippers because they can transit from corridor to

corridor and are impervious to Blaster fire when in transition.

The most subtle, but deadly, enemy in Tempest 2000 is the Pulsar. This

enemy advances down a corridor, much like a Flipper, but "pulses" a

corridor with a burst of energy every so often. (Listen for its roar!)

A novice Tempest player will rely on simply spinning consistently

around a web, blasting as he or she goes.  A Pulsar is a bane to the

existence of this type of player. If a Blaster touches the energized

corridor a Pulsar is producing, the Blaster is immediately fried.

Another common enemy is the Tanker. This enemy is a diamond shaped

object which turns into multiple enemies, whether they be Flipper,

Fuseballs, or Pulsars, after the Tanker's been destroyed.

The more uncommon enemies are Mutant Flippers (very fast, aggressive

Flippers), Mirrors (reflect your shots back at you, so move quickly!),

Demon Heads, and UFOs. Demon Heads are very aggressive enemies which

fire their horns at you after you shoot them. Make sure to move out of

the way after destroying one of these! UFOs are extremely elusive

enemies which are also difficult to kill. UFOs hover above the web,

attempting to zap you with lightning bolts. The only way to destroy

one of these is to have gotten a jump enabling power up, allowing you

to jump off the web and catch the UFO from behind.

//// Power Ups:

After blasting one of your enemies to smithereens, if you're lucky, a

power up token will appear and move towards the rim down a particular

corridor (section of the web.)  If you have enough time to intercept

the power up you will be rewarded in various ways. The first power up

is a particle laser, basically a higher powered version of your

standard shot. This weapon allows you to destroy enemies faster and

eliminate spikes more effectively. Another power up is "Zappo 2000,"

basically a free 2000 point bonus.

Jump Enabled power ups allow the Blaster to physically "jump" back

off the web and allows you to deal with any nasties that have made it

far enough to infiltrate the rim. Believe me, this comes in real handy

and is a very nice graphical effect to boot!  One of the most helpful

power ups is the A.I. droid. This little fella (I thought the term was

more endearing than "rotating cube") floats just behind the rim and

unleashes a deadly barrage of particle laser fire. Although he does

help out quite a bit, the A.I. droid is just that, Artificially

Intelligent, so don't expect him to work miracles for you.

Another extremely deadly power up is the SuperZapper. Basically the

equivalent of the "smart bomb," the SuperZapper unleashes deadly bolts

of electricity which destroy any enemy currently on screen.

Unfortunately, this power up comes along only later in a round and

between levels. One of the more rare is the "Out of Here" power up.

This power up awards you 5000 bonus points and ends the level. By far

the most interesting power up is the Warp Bonus Token. After

collecting three of these power ups, you are taken on a super

psychedelic Warp Journey bonus level which allows you to collect major

points. There are three different warps (so I'm told), as I've only

seen two of them. The graphics effects and music in the sequences are

simply stunning. Make sure to purchase one of the video adapters and

have your Jag hooked up to a good stereo for these! The first warp

level will take your breath away!


//// The Verdict


This is the game Jaguar owners have been waiting for (yes, not AvP.)

Jeff Minter has really done his homework on this one folks. If you've

played any of his shareware games for the ST, you'll be familiar with

the frantic style of game Jeff produces, and Tempest 2000 is no

different. The power of the Jaguar's hardware is immediately apparent

in the 2000 version of the game. This game is a true showcase

featuring multiple enemies, shifting viewpoints, excellent graphical

explosions, powerful sound effects, a CD quality soundtrack, zooming

screen messages, and ultra-smooth true color cycling. There are only

so many things one can keep track of at the same time! The game also

features trademarked Melt-O-Vision graphics and the psychedelic warp

levels, something only Jeff Minter could dream up.  You really have to

see it as it defies description. This game is _really_ hard to put


Many Tempest purists are concerned with the method of control used in

Tempest 2000, since the Jag doesn't currently have any 3rd party

controller offerings. I was a bit skeptical myself as to how the

joypad would perform for Tempest in comparison to the controller found

on the original. At first, it's a bit tricky to get used to, and sense

of direction is sometimes lost, but after playing for a longer period

of time, it feels natural to control the Blaster this way. There

really is nothing to worry about.

One of the most enjoyable aspects of T2K, which wasn't part of the

original, is the ability to have two people playing at the same time!

Even better, there are two different variations of two-player mode.

The first flavor is team mode in Tempest Plus.

Team mode, as the name implies, allows the two players to play

cooperatively on the same web while blasting common foes. Time to grab

a fellow Jaguarian! Team mode is just plain fun, and features some

very interesting web shapes that manage to make it even more confusing

as to which player is which! (One player is yellow, while the other

player is green... though most of the time even that differentiation

doesn't help!) It's unfortunate that this feature wasn't added to the

2000 version, but then again, it would probably be impossible to keep

track of what was actually going on!

The second flavor of two-player Tempest is Tempest Dual, a head-to-

head competition between two players. In this version, the two

Blasters are situated at opposite ends of the web (two views are

shown, both ends of the same web) and the main objective is to blast

your friend into oblivion (aren't video games fun?) It isn't as easy

as it sounds, though, because both Blasters are equipped with mirrors

to deflect the other Blaster's shots back at your opponent! The

mirrors dissappear when you fire a shot, instantly reappearing in

front of your Blaster afterwards.

Although, the mirrors make it sound as if you could stay alive

indefinitely, there are still the normal enemies to deal with, as well

as a nasty spinning cube! What at first looks like your supposed

friend, the A.I. droid, is actually a menacing geometrical object

which ping-pongs between the two ends of the web. Your objective is to

keep the cube from reaching your end of the web by hitting it with

Blaster fire. Otherwise, the cube unleashes electric fury, (as only

cubes can), destroying your Blaster as it reaches your end. Anyways,

the cube makes this game tough!

Unfortunately, Tempest Dual isn't as fun as I thought it would be.

The concept itself is interesting, and the added elements in this

version are unique, but I preferred team Tempest Plus over this one.

Also, there seems to be a bit of slowdown in gameplay and response in

this version. Maybe I'll warm up to it more after I've played it a few

more times, but for now... well, I've passed judgement!

Overall, I'd definitely have to say this is the BEST game to come out

for the Jaguar thus far and well worth the money. The added elements,

playability, and Minterisms make it a sure-fire winner. A veritable

rock on the beach of Jaguar games.

                    AEO Ratings - Tempest 2000


     Platform: Atari Jaguar            Producer: John Skruch

    Game Type: Arcade Classic        Programmer: Jeff Minter

      Players: 1 - 2                     Artist: Joby Wood

   List Price: $59.95US         Music and Sound: Ted and Carrie Tahquechi

Sound:     *****  Typical Jeff Minter. Great Samples for everything!

Music:     *****  Pulse Pounding Techno like you wouldn't believe!

Graphics:  *****  Smooth, Fast, Melt-O-Vision! What more can I say?

Controls:  ****+  Joypad takes getting used to.

Gameplay:  *****  Furious! Sweat-inducing.

Overall:   *****  Jeff Minter has done it again!

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