Aug 18 2009
Tempest was Atari’s first colour vector game. Originally called Vortex it was more of a Space Invaders clone but was revamped during playtesting to become Tempest.
You start the game looking down a tunnel and pretty soon ‘things’ start climbing the walls towards you. You must spin around the walls, firing down at the enemies before they reach you. Collision with an enemy or their fire is fatal.
The arcade game used a ‘spinner’, providing optical control and allowing the player to spin around the tunnel far more effectively than a traditional joystick. Consequently some of the conversions to home systems had some control issues.
Tempest is known for its frantic speed of play and lightning-fast reflexes are required to progress to the higher levels. Tempest was also the first arcade game to allow the player continue – very much a standard feature of future games, it was a money-spinning innovation for the time.
Famously converted to Atari’s Jaguar console by Jeff Minter, Tempest 2000 is considered one of the only reasons to own a Jaguar. Minter was then persuaded to do a remake for the NUON console, Tempest 3000 and what do you know, it’s also considered one of the only reasons to own a NUON!