Tempest is one of the iconic Atari games that helped shape the youths of many during the 1980s. Its gameplay is simple and straight-forward, shoot at everything coming towards you and try to survive as long as you can for the highest scores. It’s a formula of classic arcade gameplay that has aged pretty well in the latest iteration for modern consoles, Tempest 4000. While nothing about it is new per se, the soul of what made Tempest so much fun for kids in the 80s is presented in a fresh, futuristic, and psychedelic way.
Tempest 4000 is still Tempest no matter how it looks or sounds. The main difference here from other versions of the original game is three modes that you can switch between at the main menu. You have Standard, Pure, and Endurance modes; each with their own changes to the gameplay. Standard is exactly what you get with any version of Tempest, no big changes and no extra power-ups included. Pure is the same game but with a few new power-ups to mix things up and help you achieve higher scores, while Survival is an endless gauntlet of stages to see how long you last. All three modes are good if you enjoyed playing this Atari classic back in the day, but younger gamers who didn’t grow up in that era can still enjoy the arcade shooting. It’s simple, fast-paced, and trippy with its visuals and soundtrack.
The only downer here is that there isn’t a lot of extra content to check out afterward. You don’t unlock anything for going through Standard or Pure mode, nor do you get anything from lasting long in Survival. There are around 100 levels you can play through across all modes, but don’t expect much rewards from getting far in them. There is no look at the history of Tempest, no interviews with developers, or anything that would be interesting for fans of the game. This makes Tempest 4000 feel like a very meager package if you’re looking for anything beyond a quick arcade shooting fix.
The visual upgrade and overall presentation are what will be the real draw to Tempest 4000. You have 4K resolution visuals that display the polygonal action, with a solid frame rate to smoothly show all of the craziness. The music that plays during gameplay is fun and keeps the adrenaline flowing through each level, all of which was heavily inspired by 90s techno music.
Moving around on the different boards of each stage feels great due to the controls being so responsive and easy to play with. Tempest doesn’t require a lot of buttons, but you do need to have quick reflexes to shoot at enemies coming at the surface so fast. Having incredibly responsive controls goes a long way for allowing anyone to achieve new high scores.
Anyone that loves simple arcade fun will get a lot of enjoyment out of Tempest 4000. Though there isn’t much beyond three main game modes, getting into a fun game quickly over and over again is still a positive thing for anyone. Had there been more extras looking over the history or development of the original Tempest or Tempest 4000, this would’ve been a more appealing package for those that never grew up with the arcade game. But that doesn’t mean that playing Tempest isn’t still fun after nearly 30 years.
This review was based on a digital review code for Tempest 4000 for the PlayStation 4, provided by Atari.