Above: TxK Gameplay from the PlayStation Vita version, a spiritual spinoff of Tempest
Legendary video game developer Jeff Minter and Atari has announced that they are joining forces to create and release a new incarnation of a historically influential video game, Tempest. Announced this week, Tempest 4000 will be the newest incarnation of the classic 3D tube shooter, Tempest. The last successor was the 1994 remake of the original, Tempest 2000, along with a spiritual spinoff, TxK for the PlayStation Vita in 2014. For those unfamiliar with Tempest, players control “The Claw” a special spacecraft capable of defeating alien foes deep into the darkest, most evil reaches of outer space.
In the early 1980’s, Atari were the trailblazers in the early, golden days of modern video games. As video games were still seen as the WIld West, Atari was in a renaissance, as they were consistently bringing forth new video games and technologies. Among them was a very special game, seen as one of the first 3D shooters ever made. The game was known as Tempest, a 3D vector-graphics tube shooter which utilized cutting edge hardware to produce a 3D orientation that had players shooting into the distance, down towards the center of the screen.
Tempest had players shoot a multitude of strange, abstract enemies down the center of a tube-like shape. Each level would change shape, making each level a completely different experience with its own strategy to address, a first for any video game. The focus on gameplay, psychedelic visuals, a pumping digital dream soundtrack, features that Jeff Minter, who would go on to make a large variety of games for both Atari and independently under his game label, Llamasoft, would use to build upon.
Jeff Minter would go onto make and release Tempest 2000 in 1994, a very well received remake of the original game. Decades later, Jeff Minter would release TxK for the PlayStation Vita, a spiritual successor to Tempest that utilized many of the familiar traits of the original game, with a few tweaks and adjustments. However, by the tail-end of 2014, Atari, which had shrunk almost exclusively into mobile games, threatened legal action via a lawsuit, should TxK make its way to other console platforms. Atari’s claim was that TxK was threatening the Tempest IP, which Atari owned. Further iterations of TxK were canceled, as Mr. Minter defended himself against Atari, as well as create a new SHMUP for VR, Polybius.
As of today, Tempest 4000 will be a collaboration with Atari. The game will be playable at Gamescom in Cologne, Germany and PAX WEST in Seattle, Washington.