The famous Welsh developer Jeff Minter clearly likes the 1981 Atari Arcade Release Tempest. Since revamping the Tunnel marksman for Jaguar in 1994 as Tempest 2000, the Llamasoft founder has designed a series of sequels and tributes to Dave Theurer’s original classic pieces that he has polished and refined.
The last time was Space giraffe, 2007’s strange spin on Tempest, which polarised opinion with its unpredictable learning curve. Now Minter has returned to the Genre with TxK and has developed a title that better matches the Tempest form.
For those who have not spent time with the Genre, the basics are simple. TxK and his ancestors take the 2D vertical scrolling marksman and apply its shape inside a tunnel, be it the one that completely surrounds the game room or leaves it hanging open and changeable, like a sheet of wire mesh in the wind.
TxK asks players to control a vehicle through 100 of these tunnels, each executed in bright neon lights that stop long after the game.
They are excellent creations, increasingly crammed with bright enemies and Power-ups. Everyone is getting more and more complex and sometimes mocks the Player with tricks on the eye. It is a vivid and overwhelming experience, with a precise balance of speed and movement that culminates each stage in a Crescendo of striking explosions. And everything is set to an excellent soundtrack that gives a light stick to the hardcore Breakbeat of British Raves in the early 90s. Elsewhere, from the user interface to the humor, TxK is a game sincerely influenced by the past.
However, while its fast-paced gameplay is compelling, and the scoring simple, TxK is at first a confusing beast. He introduces his modes and nuances with a puzzling lack of clarity, frustrating players at the very moment when he debuts with big ideas.
In the end, however, TxK is extremely entertaining and adds one more weapon to the Vita’s Arsenal when the handheld is experiencing a wave of grandiose releases.