Tempest 2000 – Atari Jaguar
Platform: Atari Jaguar
Release Date: 1994
Genre: Fixed Shooter
Rating: 7 out of 10
A remake of Tempest from 1981, Tempest 2000 is one of the few good reasons to own a Jaguar. Originally a Jaguar exclusive, it was then ported to PC and the Sega Saturn, and later to the PlayStation with drastic changes (under the title Tempest X3). The graphics are about as basic as possible, but don’t let this fool you. Tempest 2000 is elegant in its simplicity. Gameplay is fun and addictive and all the phrases popping out on the screen really add a sense of urgency and accomplishment.
Every bit of this game is represented by lines, squares, dots, and other simple geometric shapes. You know those computers that were always mapping out the terrain in 80’s movies like “Escape from New York” and “Robocop?” That’s exactly what every inch of Tempest 2000 looks like. At first glance this may elicit a disappointed groan, but stick with it. Stages are constructed as either planes or tubes with increasingly exotic shapes as the game progresses. Enemies are coming from the far end towards the player on the edge of the tube/plane in the foreground. Lasers must be dodged, powerups caught, and ideally one doesn’t want an enemy to make it to the edge else there is the tricky process of trying to destroy the ship before it catches you, effectively ending the round and costing a life.
Powerups are an extremely important part of the game. As the difficulty ramps up, the ability to fire multiple shots at once over a larger spread, as well as the life saver that is the AI droid. “Jump enabled” is another important ability because it allows the player’s ship to temporarily “jump” off the line and dispose of any enemies that have made their way across. Many of the tube-like levels can be beaten simply by holding down either left or right and continuously firing, but the flat (non-looping, “plane” stages) are a little bit tougher. The “superzapper” also forces all onscreen adversaries to “EAT ELECTRIC DEATH” and can be used a finite number of times per level.
Still not convinced? Probably not, but Tempest 2000 is so easy to jump right into it will take no time at all to get hooked. The fast-paced style and the satisfaction of repeated explosions and bigger, more powerful powerups keeps interest alive while the challenges increase. I’m not sure how far one can get in this game, but I’ve only made it to the 9th stage on my best of days.
Tempest 2000 has a few gameplay modes to choose from, but honestly they’re too similar to warrant much discussion. Of note is the “duel” mode, the equivalent of multiplayer. Split screen is used, with one player at one end of the tube/plane and the other player at the opposite end. The objective is to destroy your opponent on the other side a predetermined number of times. In addition to dodging each other’s projectiles, there are also objects bouncing around inside the tube/plane, some good and some lethal, and they are constantly changing direction. Gameplay is so frenetic that it may be a little overwhelming at first but it’s a great way to translate the the idea of Tempest 2000 into something 2 people can play.
This may not a reason to go out and buy a Jaguar, but if you already have one, it should go to the top of your “must haves” immediately.
Reviewed by The Cubist
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