Some arcade machines attain Cult status. Tempest was such a game - a cult which was probably helped by the scarcity of home micro versions. While you could keep a hundred types of invader at bay from the comfort of your Computer, the Hyperspatial Wireways have remained relatively undefended.
It's taken a long time for this official version to surface on the Spectrum, and I can't help wondering whether this particular Tempest is a bit of a storm in a teacup.
Not that the conversion isn't good. It excellent. Naturally the fine line graphics lose out a bit, even on a monitor, when you compare them with the vector originals. But they're fast and detailed - just don't think of attempting a high score on a badly tuned TV.
Still, its true to the original in all its spindly detail. Your Zapper has its two mechlectric legs (two lines to you) patrolling the rims of an infinity of Wireways (sets of lines, receding into the distance). There are the nasty aliens too, advancing from the depths of this path through space.
True, these invaders are just lines as well, but at least they're varied in their attack patterns. Particularly nasty are the fast moving Fuseballs, who shoot out of nowhere, then hang around on the rim, waiting for you to bump into them. Try to clear these quickly or you're finished. The Flippers, which switch from lane to lane are much less of a problem.
Tankers aren't terribly fast but hold a nasty surprise. Will they split into two Flippers or one spiralling Fuseball when you zap them? Shoot them as soon as possible so you've time to react. Finally, don't get spiked on a Spike, that you can easily mistake for a single line, and watch out for Pulsars, which break the rim making continuous movement impossible.
All these aliens fly at you faster than you'd care to believe, and you zoom round clockwise and anti-clockwise, firing as last as your trigger finger can take. And that's all there is to it!
At first I thought Tempest was difficult, but suddenly something clicked and I was notching up high score after high score. I didn't even have to use the Super Zappers. You get these for completing a level and they allow you to clear all aliens on the screen.
If you like a shoot 'em up that's fast and simple and where the main skill is to find a rhythm and just keep on going, then this one should have you going for a blasting bonanza.
Don't get me wrong, because I'm not averse to such games myself. It's just that I'm not sure they should be full price in this day and age. Whether you think Tempest blows up a storm or is just wet and windy will depend on how much shooting you can take.