Jeff Minter of tiny indie outfit Llamasoft is back and hasn't changed a bit, if Tempest 4000's launch today is any indication. Take the 1981 vector-graphics arcade shooter Tempest, and pile on the psychedelic laser effects, pumping '90s techno music and weird Welsh humour until comfortably numb. It is almost excessively retro, very loud and is out now.
If you've never played Tempest or any of its derivatives (understandable if you haven't - it's older than I am), imagine Space Invaders (you should know this one) wrapped around a tube. Weird polygon baddies try to crawl up from the bottom, while you control a wobbly little spacey-ship-gun-thing - it's all very abstract - and shoot down at them. If they get to the top, they circle around until they hit you and you explode. Very simple. Now skip ahead to Tempest 4000 and it all gets a bit weird, as you can see below.
While he wasn't involved in Tempest's original arcade incarnation, weird and bearded indie dev Jeff Minter has been tweaking, tuning and remixing the formula for decades now. Tempest 2000 was a flagship game on the Atari Jaguar back in 1994, and was one of the few great games for the system. He even went on to produce some interesting but unbranded spins on the formula, including Space Giraffe and TxK on the Vita, bringing us to Tempest 4000 today.
Just looking at Tempest 4000 is an oddly nostalgic experience for me. I grew up playing Minter's games, and while I'd never say I was good at any of them (I've always been awful at getting 'in the zone' for arcade games), the aesthetic is weirdly calming. Ironic, for a game that gave us the all-caps, screen-filling catch-phrase "EAT ELECTRIC DEATH".
Tempest 4000 is out now on Steam for £15.49/20€/$20.