'Tempest 4000' Review: Delightfully Retro Rave Best Experienced in Faux VR
The newly-released Tempest 4000 offers some huge updates to the 1981 Atari classic video game, infusing the game with stylish music and updated graphics that make it feel right at home among other tune-driven music synthesizer-inspired VR games.
Tempest 4000 was released on July 17, 2018 and quickly became one of my low-key favorite games to sit back with for a chill experience on my PlayStation VR. It doesn’t necessarily compare with something like Thumper which was designed squarely as a “rhythm violence” game for VR, but for gamers that want the same style of video game with some retro flair, Tempest 4000 is a great option.
Keep in mind, however, that Tempest 4000 does not come with direct VR support on any consoles, but playing it with a PSVR headset still feels like the IMAX-equivalent way of enhancing your enjoyment.
In Tempest 4000, the player controls a clawed ship sliding across a multidimensional space. Fundamentally, it’s remarkably similar to something like Galaga or Space Invaders only the flat surface curls around onto four connected planes before dissolving and exploding, transformed into a new shape.
Pulsing techno music plays as the environment pulsates with each beat, making for a pretty psychedelic experience — especially when each of the 100 levels features a different shape that itself transforms often.
The soundtrack is perhaps the most enticing part of the Tempest 4000 package. All the original music from Tempest 2000 is back, along with some tunes from TxK, a similar but different game also created by Jeff Minter.
The blaring music is delightful enough to warrant this game being played at max volume, made all the more fun when it spews phrases like “EAT ELECTRIC DEATH” to keep you going.
Tempest 4000 is itself an update of an update.
The legendary Dave Theurer created the original Tempest for the Atari back in 1981, but indie developer Jeff Minter adapted the 3D wireframe shooter for the Atari Jaguar in 1994 with Tempest 2000, effectively transforming an already great game into an arcade-style rave. Tempest 4000 builds upon that idea, delivering a trance-inducing experience that feels pointedly retro and awesomely overwhelming.
With a PSVR headset, you can use the in-ear headphones to listen to the music directly while also excluding any other visual stimuli. Sensory deprivation can help induce a trancelike state of existing in an arcade fever dream. If you don’t have a headset, at the very least, play it in the dark on maximum volume.
We’ve come an impossibly long way since the original Tempest more than 35 years ago, and, if Tempest 4000 is any indication, retro gaming is only getting better.
Tempest 4000 is out now for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Steam.