Tempest 4000: The Man Minter strikes again

It really whips the Llama's ass.

Like cheese and Branston Pickle, Tempest and Jeff Minter is just one of those combinations that go hand in hand. Ever since the days of Tempest 2000 on the Atari Jaguar, the man behind legendary old games such as Hover Bovver and Gridrunner has dedicated himself to evolving and perfecting a once straightforward vector-based arcade game. Some even say that it's worth seeking out a Nuon simply for what he did with Tempest 3000. And now we come to Tempest 4000, the latest in the line and quite possibly the best yet.

As ever, the Tempest formula is present and correct -- you have a tunnel, you control a claw prowling around the edges of it, and there's lots of enemies coming up at you which you have to shoot. It's fast and furious, a pinnacle of simple arcade fun straight outta 1981...Tempest 4000 is all that, but then it's so much more thanks to the style that Minter brings to it -- this game is now an intoxicating display, a lightshow gone crazy that simply makes you want more. The best way to describe it, perhaps, is that it's a game that brings you all the effects of high-strength narcotics without having to take on a crippling addiction. It is of course quite similar to TxK, Minter's last go-around which came out for the PS Vita only in 2016 thanks to Atari stepping in, but the Atari have worked with Minter to let this one through onto the PS4, PC and Xbox One -- and with these games, the bigger screen is only going to make it better.

Of course, the games of Jeff Minter can often be polarizing -- such was the case when, for example, he came up with Space Giraffe for the Xbox 360 ten years ago, a game that people seemed to either love unreservedly or hate with an undying passion. One thing that cannot be denied is that of all the new indie games at the Manchester Play Expo, Llamasoft's stand was always consistently packed out with people both old and new wanting to give the game a try. Minter himself was there at the heart of it all -- as entertaining as ever and perfectly willing to have a chat about the game, but you could tell that he had an eye on everyone's playthrough and was making mental notes. His recently released PSVR title Polybius was also on display and attracting plenty of attention, so you could say it was a pretty busy expo for the long-haired wonder.

As for my personal opinions, from what I've played...it is indeed a lot of fun. As mentioned, it's still very much Tempest at its core -- the original Theurer formula isn't one that Minter's ever going to tear up, but he will tinker with it and throw several buckets of paint at it. The additions here and there such as jumping, smart bombs and A.I. droids that you unlock gradually through surviving in the tunnels make the game that little more accessible, and I'd say that it's certainly the most playable of all the Minter Tempest games, as good as they mostly are. It's certainly going to be an attention grabber when it comes out later on this year, and there will of course be some people who, quite simply, will not get it. But whether you end up getting it or not, it's definitely a game that you should seek out and experience.