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David Pridmore
1987
Arcade: Shoot-em-up
£7.99
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
None

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53
John Gilbert
Chris Bourne

Tempest is now a pretty old coin-op game - designed in an age when graphics were lines and shading and 3D hadn't been invented.

So in one sense it's a bit odd that it's now been converted by Electric Dreams.

The reason, though, is that as coin-op it was one hell of an addictive game.

The plot sounds complex but the play couldn't be simpler. The Hyperspatial Wireways - travel tubes which connect one star system to another - have been infiltrated by pesky, odd-shaped, aliens. Their goal: to conquer your star system by shooting out along the tubes' channels.

Your only weapon, the Zapper, spins around the rim of each wireway. Hit the Fire button and it releases an energy pulse which smashes the opposition.

What this means is you get presented with a series of geometrical shapes on-screen, divided into segments (rather like slices of a cake). You zoom around the edge firing inwards - with your fire confined in the 'slice' or channel from which it began. The aliens move out from the centre and mustn't reach the rim. So the gameplay means speeding around the rim firing down the sections where the aliens are nearest to the edge.

If that sound dull, you'd be wrong. Completely. This is one heck of a frenetic game.

There are eight alien-types. Some just move along one channel, some flip from channel to channel and others split into twirling crosses when you hit them with your Zapper. If a tube gets too hot with alien activity you can release an energy net which acts as a smart bomb and destroys everything on the wireway. There's only one net per screen so it's pretty much a last resort tactic.

When you've cleared a screen it disappears and another zips up into its place. It'll be a different shape and. probably, more difficult than the last with more wires, extra twists for the Zapper to make a shorter length from end to end.

The new tube may be a different colour, yellow and blue are favourites of this conversion, but they are nothing compared to the multi- coloured brightness of the original coin-op.

Tempest is a brave conversion but doesn't really measure up to the original Atari coin-op masterpiece. The game was originally designed to use a trackerball and a joystick is an irritatingly inflexible substitute.

The original also features rapid fire which is simultaneous with zapper movement.

The Electric Dreams' Zapper has to be stopped before you fire and you can only make one shot at a time. That's not to say, however, that I won't be playing this Tempest long after you've read this review. The game is just based round such a strong idea.

Label: Electric Dreams
Price: £8.95
Joystick: various
Memory: 48K/128K
Reviewer: John Gilbert

****

Not a patch on the coin- op original, but that's to be expected, it's pretty addictive all the same.

4/5