Platform: PlayStation Vita (Exclusive)
Price: £5.49; €6.99; $9.99
I only have very vague memories of Tempest games, the rotating around a tunnel shooting enemies in wireframed vector graphics. I was expecting this game would give warm and fuzzy feels to the growing number of retro-game fans but wasn’t expecting to enjoy it as much as I did.
The visual presentation does harp back to a bygone age but my lord is there a lot going on. If you’ve ever suffered from migraines, then you’ll understand when I say graphically it looks like the start of the headsplitting phenomena. The mass of flashing neon colours and shapes creating a massive blind spot of focus on the games display, thankfully without the usual cranium cracking pain of a migraine.
The gameplay is beautifully simple using the left stick (or direction pad) to move left and right around the edge of a tunnel or flat level, personally I would have liked the option to control the ship using the Rear Touch pad. The X button is utilised to shoot in to the distance at various enemies which vary in their looks and offensiveness. Trying to collect plus symbols which can either give bonus points or more importantly uprades to your weapons, the ability to jump with R1, or an yellow spikey AI Bot that shoots enemies and rolls in to your rescue if your bull horn shaped ship his being dragged down the web. If you do start to get overwhelmed and at times you will you can tap the screen (or press circle) to launch a mass wipeout on all the on screen enemies.
The wireframe levels start in a static form but as you progress they get a bit mental, by rotating and some flex and reshape as you play, this can become damn challenging and looks awesome. Between levels there’s a mini game that requires to aim your ship (which has turned in to a white light) through shapes the more central you travel through the higher the bonus score. Also during play you get random messages such as you’ve won a cup of tea or the throne of Wales, theses kept making me grin from ear to ear.
There are three game modes Classic, Pure and Survival, the latter being my favourite as you try to last as long as you can with only three lives and no ability to gain extra ones unlike the two former modes. Classic allows you to level select any levels you cleared and aim to progress further through the weird and wonderful levels. If you managed to collect Four Warp triangle bonuses you gain access to one of two extra levels. These are very odd, one requires using the PSVita’s giros / left stick to try and aim through circles, another has you trying to follow a cork screwed coloured path. These can give majorly big points scores, if you can finish them successfully and are a change of pace to the non-stop shooting.
The main thing that keeps me coming back to the game is the incredible soundtrack, combining a mix of chilled electro and 90’s style acid house. There’s a superb option to be able to listen to the tunes via the credits section. Added to the fact the option screen gives you the opertunity to turn the sound effects or music up to 200%, which really show off how good the PSVita’s inbuilt speakers are. Also added to the fact this games has a collection of Trophies some fairly easy to obtain, whist others will require, a fair amount of practice and patience.
As you would expect this game features online score boards and there are some incrediblely high scores on there. I do have gripe about the score boards when it comes to comparing with friends as it loads your entire friends list, rather than just showing scores of your friends who have played the game.
I really wasn’t expecting to get as hooked on this little gem of a shooter but it keeps drawing me back in to try and get further, and see what other strangeness awaits on futher levels. If you’re not into shooters or retro styled games TxK may not change your mind, but at such a cheap price point, it’s well worth giving a try. If you’re all about the old style shooter and haven’t already picked this up do it now.
Review code supplied by Jeff Minter for myself and Codecmoments.com