Back in the Arcade: Tempest

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TempestNightmare-inspired, unrelentingly difficult, and Lemmy’s favorite game: The 1981 Atari classic Tempest has finally returned to Ground Kontrol!

Considered one of the top 10 arcade games ever released, Tempest stands out in arcades even today. This artistic, highly stylized game is also intelligent and engaging, not to mention appropriately difficult. It was created by acclaimed game designer Dave Theurer after a particularly bad dream in which he envisioned monstrous creatures crawling toward him from a deep hole below. From this, he created the world of Tempest, turning wire-frame shapes into believably unsettling monsters you’re more than happy to send back to whatever portal they crawled out from!

Each level finds you facing down a linear corridor that seems endless, as monsters of various degrees of complexity move towards you, often shooting deadly weapons. The monsters range from the easier “Flippers” — red bow-like shapes that can visibly flip back and forth — to the more dangerous “Flipper Tankers” and the difficult green-spiral “Spikers”. Touching any part of the monsters or their weapons will kill you instantly, so you must avoid all parts of the creatures and try to destroy every foe in order to advance to the next level. Using a rotary controller instead of a traditional joystick, Tempest demands you learn how to navigate the levels quickly, making it another arcade game that only feels right in its original cabinet. The game featured sharp-looking graphics thanks to Atari’s Color-QuadraScan vector technology, and the sound of each laser blast and portal warp further immerses you in this bizarre world.

Originally conceived as a 3D Space Invaders clone called “Vortex”, Tempest’s early prototype wasn’t a hit with Atari’s engineering team, so it was revised. When Dave Theurer came up with the design we know and love today, no one quite knew what to make of it – but they played it anyway, and Tempest became his proudest achievement and a game that’s probably inspired another scary story or two.

Stop in today and play this legendary game today – if you’ve got the nerve!