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Posted by moonhead on Feb 17, 2014
Review: TxK – Llamasoft – PS Vita

Review: TxK – Llamasoft – PS Vita

Jeff Minter Returns With The Definitive Version of His Favourite Game, Tempest.

I have to get this off my chest straight away I am a massive Jeff Minter fan, I have played his games on varying formats since I was 11 years old. My parents bought me and my brother a Commodore 64 for Christmas in 1983 and they brought three games; 3 Deep Space (rubbish Space Invaders clone), Motor Mania (okay top down racer) and the brilliant Hover Bovver by the man himself. Jeff Minter games are always playable have a distinct unique Britishness in not only appearance and humour and are also always seriously addictive. I even met the great man at a Commodore computer fair at Alexandra Palace when I was around 13 and he did not disappoint, he is a true eccentric British Gent.

Gushing over, well mostly as we move on to his new game TxK which is a sequel of sorts to what is obviously one of his favourite games Tempest. I say obvious as he has made many versions of this game over the years. From Tempest 2000 on the ill-fated Atari Jaguar (Tempest 2000 was the only reason to own one) to Space Giraffe on the Xbox 360. Minter’s versions have all been similar and inspired by the original 81 coin-op but have added some visual and gameplay tweaks along the way. txk_10TxK is without a doubt the definitive version of Tempest. So what is Tempest? Well, it’s a vector graphics shooter that takes place on a series of geometric shaped tubes. You control a space ship that can traverse left and right around the top of the tube and you have to shoot down at the varying alien ships trying to get to the top. As simple as this sounds it is an incredibly hard-core experience with a steep difficulty curve. To help with this you get various power-ups including an AI bot and a jump move allow you to hover above the tunnel and rain down bullets. You also have a smart-bomb that you can get to reuse once on each level. In between levels there are a sub-games that see you tilting the machine and pulling on the left stick to get through the centre of warp gates for extra score. If you collect four warp triangle power-ups you get a bonus warp level where you cannot die and amass higher scores. There are 100 levels (at the time of writing this I have only made it to level 13!) and three game modes Pure, Survivor and Best Restart, all essentially spins on the same thing. The game also has online leaderboards that allow you to see how your score stacks up against the rest of the world. It is something I really like, if only to see how completely rubbish I am at the game.

Graphically the game is treat for the eyes with Jeff Minter’s trademark psychedelic visuals, the sharp angular vector graphics looking eye poppingly pin sharp on the Vita’s stunning OLED screen. They truly are an advertisement for graphic style over graphic grunt. The game’s soundtrack is a thumping techno feast with typically humorous (if slightly cheesy) samples. The combination of the unique visuals and music hypnotises you in a way not to dissimilar to games like Child of Eden and Rez.

I only have one complaint and it is the chosen format. I love my Vita and it is a fantastic bit of kit and the game does take advantage of most of its features but this would have amazed on a big screen. txk11Also with it being on the Vita it’s going to get totally missed by the masses.

At the end despite this very minor complaint this is the old school arcade shooter coin-op at its very best and is as addictive as sugar to a fly and I for one need more sugar. This without a doubt the definitive version of Tempest and those few people that hung on to their Atari Jaguars just to play Tempest 2000 can finally retire it to the loft. The game is amazing and despite the strange choice of format it is now in surprisingly good company with the likes of Olli Olli (review here). Along with other recent PSN releases  there is an increasing number of reasons to buy a Vita. The last thing to add is if you own a Vita YOU MUST BUY THIS!!

 

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