Thanks to Jeff Minter, Llamasoft for the review code.
Format: PS Vita via the PS Store
Release Date: February 11 2014 (US) and February 12 2014 (Europe)
TxK, is a game which on first appearance looks like a simple indie game trying to emulate vector graphic shooters from 80’s. But if you look closer then you notice that the game is created by none other than Jeff Minter, the creator of some amazing games that include Attack of the Mutant Camels, Hoover Bovver and Grid Runner, to name but a few.
About the Game
Before we get into TxK, here is a short bit of history on the series. Tempest was originally an arcade game by Atari released back 1981. The game used vector graphics, which at the time was going be the style of future games. Then 1994 saw Jeff release the remake of the 80’s arcade classic on the Atari Jaguar called Tempest 2000. This was arguably the title that made the machine worth owning as the visuals were simplistic and the soundtrack fitting for the game that stood out from the other games of the time.
Now 33 years after the original, Mr Minter has brought back the vector graphics and electric soundtrack, releasing the third re-incarnation of Tempest on PS Vita. Simply called TxK, the game takes full advantage of the power of the Vita, to bring Tempest to the new generation of gamers, and prove that you do not need fancy graphics and complex controls to make a game enjoyable, as every true gamer knows it is gameplay that matters.
The game when loading up do not mess around with a fancy opening, it go swiftly to the title screen, where you can jump straight in and start playing. Or you can go to options, and here you can familiarise yourself with the controls and a bit about the game. When you start the game, if you have never played a Tempest-style game before then it might be a bit confusing. The premises is simple, move around a geometric shape, made of vector graphics and shoot all incoming objects and collect their power ups and get a high score, which is the heart of all great arcade shooters.
The game does not have a steep learning curve, starting with simple shapes and objects to destroy. Then as you progress, you find that the stages get more complicated and more strategy is needed to complete the levels. The great thing about TxK is that the game is perfectly suited for play on the move, as each level is short and perfect if you got a spare half-hour going to work or a short lunch break to kill. And the bonus of this game is that once-per-level; you get a helping hand if you get over run by enemies. This comes in the form of a smart bomb, which allows you to tap the screen and it destroys all enemies.
Visually, the game looks simply stunning on the Vita screen, colours are sharp and vibrant. It is so refreshing to see vector graphics in modern day gaming, and TxK definitely got it right and the Vita was the perfect platform to release the game on. Tempest 2000 had a brilliant soundtrack, and this is no exception. The music and digitised speech sounds so awesome, and again like the vector graphics, it is something that is not used in the gaming industry today which is such a shame. There is no multiplayer mode, but a game like this don’t need one as it got leaderboards, which is what these games are all about.
TxK is a game that brings some old school ideas, and brings them into current-gen gaming. This is how games used to be played once upon a time, and I think that Jeff Minter have successfully managed to create a game that is just as good on the PS Vita, as Tempest 2000 was on the Atari Jaguar. It is nice to see Llamasoft and Jeff Minter back in gaming with a quality title like this.