Tempest 2000 (Jaguar) review
"YES! YES! YES!"
With its turbocharged hardware and sleek dynamic design, the Atari Jaguar slunk into the market ready to take a bite out of the competition. It promised us the future. Cutting edge graphics, a radical spectrum of colours and an experience that would drag the player kicking and screaming into the next generation.
What we got was Tempest 2000.
Donít get me wrong here. Tempest 2000 is one of the best games on the system but itís pathetic that it is. Tempest itself was a 1981 title that was popular during the early days of the arcade. A simple but exciting tube shooter that gave us a primitive concept with a futuristic presentation.
The concept is simple. The objective is to survive and score as many points as possible by clearing the screen of enemies. You control a blaster that shoots projectiles at oncoming geometric shapes and you use the controller to move across an isometric grid to prevent them from reaching you. When you clear all of the enemies, itís onto the next grid. If you miss an enemy projectile, they can creep along the bottom the screen to get you.
It's basic but chaotic. However, itís not the gameplay itself that makes Tempest 2000 stand out, itís the presentation. Techno music blasts through your speakers, youíre getting pumped! A shattered kaleidoscope of light sweeps across the screen as the game begins, assaulting your senses as projectiles rapidly fly towards you. The second you destroy the enemies, the grid explodes in a psychedelic fury. Your heart is beating, your hands drip with sweat and your eyes twitch from side to side. Take two seconds to compose yourself. TIMEíS UP! HERE THEY COME! Unlike previous versions of Tempest, you can get some support in this version from a selection of power ups. Like the enemies, they will slide down the grid for you to collect. These include enhanced fire power, the ability to jump and even an A.I. support droid that will blast enemies. As you collect these items and utilise them effectively, a voice screams YES! YES! YES! over the techno beats, intensifying an already out of body sensation!
This may not be your style of music but as part of this experience, itís absolutely essential! Whatís significant about it is that the soundtrack got an official CD release. An odd decision at first, but the reason for this was to showcase an important feature of the Jaguarís CD add-on. The Jaguar CD had a special feature called the Virtual Light Machine! A music visualiser that was a key part of the Jaguar CDís makeup that filled your room with random light patterns and generated images in synch with the music it played, similar to what Windows Media Player did in the early 2000s.
Tempest 2000. What a ride! A relentless attack on the senses from all corners. Laughable to an extent, that its simplistic nature trumps almost every attempt by the Jaguar to utilise its 3-D capabilities in other titles but a remarkable and unforgettable title worth exploring.
Community review by Vorty (February 26, 2023)
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