Tempest

He that dies pays all debts.

3D graphics were the holy grail of gaming for a long number of years, and developers battled tooth and nail against technology to deliver a realistic experience to arcade punters. As we look back now with myopic hindsight, we can see those early attempts were great not because of their pseudo three dimensional visage; it's because the designers were striving to break down barriers.

Tempest is the epitome of this amazing era of exploration. Providing a loose Space Invaders clone that displayed the action from the perspective of the laser, Atari inadvertently broke a mould it was not even trying to bend. Using the brand new, slick colour vectors Atari grew to be so proud of, Tempest crafted simple, yet dynamic, static environments of all shapes from angular tubes to jagged geometric arcs. The player guided their ship around the circumference of the playfield using a rotary controller, shooting various enemies gunning their way along the 3D vectors.

1

While the black screen and genre expectations suggest Tempest is a space-based shooter, there's something subtle about its design that insinuates a microscopic, subatomic or electronically ethereal adventure going on. The enemies known as Spikers, Flippers, Tankers, Fuseballs and Pulsars all resembles some kind of self-aware, hostile particle or electron, intent on negating the probe-like device controlled by the player. Sending destructive charges along the lines of the playfield is equally representative of a minuscular, atomic war being magnified a million or more times on an arcade monitor for beings of immense proportions to take control of.

In truth, Tempest probably looks the way it does due to the restrictions of drawing with vectors, but that doesn't change the limitless possibilities of this awesome game's beautifully realised potential.

8 /10

Will you support Eurogamer?

We want to make Eurogamer better, and that means better for our readers - not for algorithms. You can help! Become a supporter of Eurogamer and you can view the site completely ad-free, as well as gaining exclusive access to articles, podcasts and conversations that will bring you closer to the team, the stories, and the games we all love. Subscriptions start at £3.99 / $4.99 per month.

Read the Eurogamer.net reviews policy

Sometimes we include links to online retail stores. If you click on one and make a purchase we may receive a small commission. Read our policy.

Jump to comments (1)

About the author

Spanner Spencer

Spanner Spencer

Contributor

Related

You may also enjoy...

Supporters only

Comments (1)

Comments for this article are now closed. Thanks for taking part!

Hide low-scoring comments
Order
Threading
Eurogamer.net

Buy things with globes on them

And other lovely Eurogamer merch in our official store!

Eurogamer Merch
Explore our store