Returning to a classic and trying to bring it up to today’s standards is a monumental task. It can sometimes be indecipherable what aspects made it so great and what is just not good enough today. That’s the task Jeff Minter had to face when making TxK. As the creator of one of the biggest arcade titles of all time, Tempest, Minter has decided to return to the game and make it relevant for today. And while there are times the game can disorientate and clutter your screen, TxK is just as fun to play as you may remember Tempest being the same.
If you’ve ever played Tempest then TxK will play and actually look familiar to you. The game decided to keep the core gameplay and visuals largely intact with an obvious modern day polish. You control a little yellow ship, almost identical to the original and you fight on a plane, moving between fields. As you move from lane to lane, spaceships will make their way toward you. Should it reach you, you must not let it drag you down into the abyss. As you play though there are power-ups that allow you to combat them better.
The difficulty in TxK is both gradual in terms of its curve and frustrating in its execution. The opening levels are simple enough with the challenge and pace increasing. It’s when you get beyond the initial stages will you really sense any sort of frustration. The simple vector style can quite frankly become overwhelming the further you get into the game.
As you destroy ships, new types will make its way into the game with sometimes even more lavish vector explosions; Couple that with words popping up onto the screen and it can become easier than it should to lose your ship and then in turn, lose a life without knowing who or what the culprit was.
The game has a genius approach to restarting. Should you die at level 15, you can start the game again at level 15 with the number of lives and score you had at the beginning of that level. Then, should you restart again and get to level 15 with a higher score and more lives, you can restart with the higher score and lives.
The game is simple in its design but mostly great in its execution. The game is perfect blend of the old and new, even down to the music which is a great companion in encapsulating both old and new.