empest 2000 was my all time favorite Jaguar game. Developed by Jeff Minter, a celebrated champion of classic arcade blasters, Tempest 2000 bubbled over with addiction. The techno music was blisteringly cool. The simple shapes and "Melt-o-Vision" graphics, tremendously hip. But best of all, Tempest 2000 featured gameplay that kept you stuck to your living room sofa for hours on end. I've always said that purchasing the Jaguar was worth it just for the experience of playing that one game. Now, Sega Saturn owners can get a taste of the Tempest 2000 madness.
Find The Fire Button
The gameplay of Tempest 2000 couldn't be simpler. For those five or six people who aren't familiar with the original Tempest arcade game of 1981 and have somehow managed to make it to this page in The Electric Playground, I'll explain the idea of the game to you.
You control a blaster that is at the near end of a galactic web. Down at the far end of this web, all kinds of activity is brewing.
Within seconds of starting up you'll notice a variety of shapes moving quickly towards your end of the web. Your job is to stop these enemy objects, which possess a number of different threats to your existence, dead in their tracks. You do this by moving along the edges of your side of the web and firing down at the objects and creatures headed your way.
To help you in this endless challenge, you have the opportunity to increase your arsenal by collecting a series of swanky power ups. You'll be able to add power to your projectile weapon; you'll pick smart bombs (called SuperZappers), which will devastate everything on screen; you can earn the ability to jump up off the edge of the web for a moment; and you'll also be able to enlist the aid of an artificially intelligent drone.
Unfortunately, the unstoppable persistence of your enemies isn't the only obstacle you'll have to overcome. The real difficulty of Tempest 2000 is mastering your maneuverability on the webs. The webs start off as relatively simple shapes (circles, squares and flat lines) at first but quickly become very confusing (figure eights, shrunken polygon stars). Learning how to surmount the trickier webs is the first step towards seeing the tougher enemies in the game, like the Pulsars, who send a quick pulse of electricity all the way up, no matter how far away on the web they are - the jump tool is essential if you want to smoke these guys.
What all this amounts to is a game that is mind numbingly fast paced. Tempest 2000 asks you to have twitch trigger reflexes and an inordinate amount of patience.
To help stretch out the longevity of the Tempest 2000 experience, Minter also supplied a few variations on the theme. The original Tempest made it onto the disc, as did a converged version of the update and the original called Tempest Plus. Also thrown into the bargain is a tame two player contest called Tempest Duel. All of these extra gameplay offerings are fine and dandy but the real star of the show is Minter's superb techno-blast update.
If you're coming to play Tempest 2000, you'd better make sure you're ready for it. Make no mistake, kids, Tempest 2000 is a gameplayer's game. This one gets tough quickly and stays that way. It's not for those with a nervous stomach.
The visuals for Tempest 2000 are, for the most part, identical to the Jaguar game. The colorful, bitmapped, grainy explosions look like an interactive fireworks display. The variety of web shapes and colors keeps things humming along visually. The twisting and rhythmic starscapes in the background suggest a nightclub's groovy decor, which makes complete sense once you start shaking to the game's kickin' soundtrack.
The enemies in Tempest 2000 have esoteric minimalist designs. The aforementioned Pulsars look like little yellow pulsing lighting bolts. The Flippers are squashed red X's that skitter side to side across the web as they make their way up to snag you. The Demon Heads are flat colorful creatures that throw their horns at you when you shoot them. Then there's the Spikers, stubborn little green circles who leave behind solid green spikes, perfect for interrupting your through-the-web flight to the next level.
The coolest, and yet most frustrating, of the enemies are the Mirrors these spinning punks actually have the audacity to reflect your blaster's shots right back at you!
No other Saturn game on the market looks like Tempest 2000. It is a light show blast-a-thon made up of splintering colored pixels. This is a game that looks equally great on a large screen TV at a weekend rave party, or on your mom and dad's old wood cabinet 70's Zenith monster sitting in your dorm's activity room.
The element that brings the whole Tempest 2000 experience together is the game's super-funky techno-groove candy beats. Even a few years later, the music is still fresh.
Combined with the fury of the awesome firepower at your disposal in this game, you have a Saturn disc that begs you to have a good stereo set up. Crank this one up on a Saturday night and send the band home early.
Hesitate And Die
Tempest 2000 rocks forever. Minter's overhaul of a classic arcade experience produced a game that is equally impervious to aging. This will be a disc that you'll still be pulling out to play when you have kids begging to borrow the car. Buy it and play it 'til your fingers bleed.