PAX West 2017: Tempest 4000

Thursday, September 7th, 2017

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Tempest 4000 1

Tempest is a series with a lot of history. It was originally released in arcades by Atari in 1981, with releases on consoles such as Atari 2600 and 5200 following along with others through the decades. It was followed by Atari Jaguar exclusive Tempest 2000 in 1994, and in 2000 with Tempest 3000 on Nuon DVD players. Now there’s Tempest 4000 for PS4, Xbox One and Steam, under development by Tempest 2000 creator Jeff Minter.

Tempest 4000 changes very little in terms of gameplay from the 1981 game. The core is the same; you control a claw-shaped spacecraft moving around the edge of a segmented prism, shooting at various enemies that approach from the far end. Enemies that reach your end of the prism start moving along your side, forcing the player to move and shoot carefully to avoid them. Similarly to the original, the difficulty ramps up quickly; during my half hour of playing I was able to get as far as the sixth level, and even that was only with the help of the power-ups that were added in Tempest 4000.

Tempest 4000 2

There are three gameplay modes in Tempest 4000: Pure mode, which is the same as the original; Standard, which adds the power-ups and is the mode in the demo; and Endurance, where you get as far as possible on one life. The power-ups cycle through as you pick them up, with things such as Beauty, which temporarily kills anything in your lane without shooting; Jump, which lets you freely kill enemies on the edge; A.I. droid, which travels around the edge and shoots and enemies; among others.

There’s an addicting quality to Tempest 4000, as you replay levels and feel yourself gradually improving. The nature of the PS4 controller means you need to use the stick or d-pad to rotate clockwise or counterclockwise around the prism. In between levels there’s a brief sequence where you use motion controls to steer through the right area of the screen for extra points. The whole goal is to get the high score, and there will be online leaderboards once the game releases at the end of 2017.

Tempest 4000 3

The new game features a host of visual improvements, while still maintaining the same basic look of the original. Animations are smoother, enemy designs are more detailed, and backgrounds and power-ups have flashy, colorful and psychedelic designs. The music is energetic 90s-style techno, that goes perfectly with the vector-style graphics and flashy effects. It complements the addictive nature of the game, pushing you to keep trying things over again until you can do it right.

About Chris Melchin

Chris is a computer science student who has been gaming ever since he knew what to do with a Super Nintendo controller. Since then, he's owned every Nintendo console to be released. His favourite games include Xenoblade Chronicles, Persona 4 Golden, and Little Busters. He started watching anime in high school, and his favourite series is Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood. He also writes Vocaloid music for his personal YouTube channel, and has a (slight) obsession with Megurine Luka.




  • Josh S.

    Looks like a fun psychadelic romp