TEMPEST 2000 ARTICLE - November 1995
One of the sad things about the current proliferation of games platforms is the software apartheid it forces on gamesplayers. Want to play Ridge Racer? You'll have to buy a PlayStation. Fancy Return Fire as well? Better get a 3DO while you're there. Sega Rally? Stick a Saturn onto our shopping list too. And if you want to play the best video game of all time, Tempest 2000, there's no option other than to be a member of the extremely small club of Atari Jaguar owners.
Until now. In a move bearing the unmistakeable acrid, smoky stench of the Last Chance Saloon, Atari have converted Jeff Minter's astounding update of early 80s coin-op Tempest from the Jag across to the PC. Taking up less memory than most PC games' install programs (just 1.5Mb in total), T2K (as we with-it hipsters call it, daddio) nevertheless manages to cram the most intense, spectacular, exciting and just downright fantastic epic of over-the-top all-out blasting carnage since World War 1 into its tiny space. Unburdened by a ridiculous plot, an idiot princess to rescue, or an hour and a half of horrible tedious FMV to 'interact' with, Tempest 2000 is entirely abstract yet entirely gripping, and it never lets up from the moment you take your first shot at the simple geometric shapes that are the bad guys till the moment you stagger out of the house nine hours later, crash dazedly through the doors of the pub and sink three straight tequilas in a row in an attempt to calm your shattered, still-screaming nerves.
The visual fireworks are slightly toned down from the Jaguar version (the CD soundtracks have actually been 'enhanced', but to less impressive effect), but not so's you'd notice, and the only thing missing on PC is the version of original Tempest which was included on the Jag cartridge. But if you want to see the videogame veteran that married a bad LSD trip and spawned this terrifying monster, you still can - Tempest is featured on the Arcade pack from Microsoft, along with four other note-perfect conversions of coin-op classics from the dawn of video gaming, and it's a far better copy than the one which came with T2K anyway, as well as still being a superb game in its own right. Microsoft Arcade features historical notes as well as the original games, and is a fascinating museum piece, but Tempest 2000 is the true future of videogames. You should play it. No excuses.