The original arcade game Tempest released way back in 1981. The vector game was making the rounds in arcades before I was even born. My experience with the game has almost exclusively come from retro arcade show California Extreme, of which Tempest is a mainstay. The concept was simple: move around a grid (apparently called a tube) blasting aliens and try not to get hit. Fairly straightforward for arcade games in the 80s.
Jump ahead to 2018 and a sequel, titled Tempest 4000, is released. Retaining the same gameplay as the arcade original, Tempest 4000 brings with it new stages, new enemy types, new powerups, and a love of bright colors.
The very first thing you’ll notice about this game are the visuals. The vector style graphics make a return, which I am thankful for as I have a soft spot for vector graphics. However, they have been enhanced with a wide array of special effects and colors. Enemies still explode when you shoot them, but now the destruction looks a lot prettier. Levels features an almost psychedelic vibe. A rainbow of colors assault your eyes every step of the way.
The goal of Tempest and Tempest 4000 alike is to make it to the end of each stage, and see how far you can get before losing your last life. You control a claw-like spaceship at the very end of a long grid, and your job is to blast enemies before they overwhlem you. You move across the grid and shoot down each lane, defeating enemies as they scurry up the lane and move between them. Some enemies shoot back, some explode, and some may take multiple hits to take down. As you progress to new levels, you’ll find even more challenge and even more stage layouts to traverse.
Aiding your in your battle are a handful of powerups. These range from typical arcade shooter upgrades like machine gun fire and screen-clearing bombs. You can also get more unique abilities, like a fellow AI ship to shoot enemies for you, or a very powerful laser that can obliterate anything in your lane. My best moments with Tempest 4000 came when the powerups were plenty and the destruction on screen was rhythmic and soothing.
Sadly, Tempest 4000 does not offer a lot of the trimmings I would have hoped to see in an eighth generation console release. Outside of the main arcade mode, there are a survival mode and an alternative arcade mode with slight tweaks to powerups and continues. I was hoping to see more continued ship development or unlockable content, but none is present. What you see is what you get: an arcade release on PlayStation 4.
That being said, if you’re a fan of this type of somewhat unique gameplay, Tempest 4000 absolutely delivers. I got a strong feeling of Tetris Effect while playing this game: the visuals and sounds really created an interesting experience. However, the gameplay is just not long lasting to warrant more than a few hours of play. That might be extended if you are a fan of classic arcade shooters, but I felt like the game was lacking some additional content (even at the reduced price point).
Tempest 4000 is a solid arcade shooter on consoles. While I would have wanted to see more from the game content-wise, there is enough there to have a few hours of enjoyment. Shooting enemies and collecting powerups is fun, and trying to beat your high score and reach the next level is always a challenge. If that’s the gameplay you are looking for, Tempest 4000 is for you!