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Alive SE - EIL 2001
                  Tempest 3000
   Jeff Minter/VM Labs for NUON based machines

Type: Retro Shooter
# of players: 1-2
Levels: 128+
MSRP: $29.95
                                      Part 1
Psychedelic Mind Candy For The Brain

A true arcade masterpiece is back! Way back in 1981, the original Tempest
was introduced and immediately became a classic. Now, almost twenty years
later, Tempest is back and looking better than ever! Tempest 3000 is best
described as a fusion of modern music and psychedelic visuals with a
generous dollop of old school, thumb-blistering, button smashing gameplay.


   * Hundreds of unique and challenging levels
   * Dynamic procedural textures for a cool psychedelic look
   * New and improved weapons
   * All of the original Tempest enemies, plus many new ones
   * Cool Techno Soundtrack

INTENSITY. If there has ever been a game worthy of being described with
this word, it's Tempest 3000. Perhaps you're a Tempest fan from way back,
perhaps you're a fan of Jeff Minter's previous work, maybe you just love
the VLM, or you could have even played the Tempest 3000 demo. Well forget
any preconceived notions you may have of this game from past experiences
because nothing, not even the demo on NUON, will prepare you for the first
time you drop this into your NUON player's disk tray and give it a go. You
will stare in awe and disbelief of what you are seeing and that you are
actually controlling and interacting with it. You've never seen a game
that looks, plays, or pulls you in like this one does - and that reason
alone is why you should do yourself a favor and get this game (and a NUON
DVD deck if you haven't already). Cost won't even be a concern once you've
played it for the first time.

This game is so abstract and out of the -norm- of today's shovelware
videogame market that it's hard to know where to begin a review. -You've
never seen/heard anything like this before- could be applied to all the
different aspects of the game and that would be an accurate description.
But alas, let's discuss graphics, shall we? Good. You've never seen
anything lik-just kidding. Way back when development on T3K began, Jeff
Minter said T3K would be the first game with -no visible pixels,- and
that's just what you get. Colors blend out and melt together, leaving no
jaggies anywhere in sight. Textures on the web actually move and pulsate
(as do the webs themselves), in a manner that is too cool for words. Later
on in the levels when the Unmaker-Spiders make an appearance, the webs
become a jumbled mess not even resembling the shape of the level you
started out on. Throw in Rotors, and those jumbled messes begin spinning
and rotating around until you rid the web of those nasty foes.

The lightning effects on this game are just jaw-dropping. A loud crack of
lightning booms at the start of the level, which actually brings to life
the next web for you to tackle (can you say Big Bang?). And, just wait
till you hit the SuperZapper in the midst of a hectic web-battle. The
screen begins flashing and you'll have to plug your ears in order to keep
your brain from exploding from the intensity.

Fans of Tempest 2000 who wished they could play a proper Minter revision
of Tempest with the T2K soundtrack CD thumping along will be pleased to
know that the entire original T2K soundtrack is sprinkled throughout the
levels of Tempest 3000. Of course, we couldn't just have a complete rehash
in the audio department, so a slew of new techno-rave tunes are included
for your Zoning pleasure. T[NT], James Grunke, and Andre' Meyer provide
the new beats, and they are all very well done with the exception of one
song up in the late 80's-early 90 levels which just seems out of place in
the scope of the rest of the soundtrack.

SFX-wise, things are once again pretty abstract in typical Minter fashion.
Along with the shooting sounds and explosions you'd expect, there are
samples of Minter's sheep Flossie, T[NT]'s goat and various other
distorted and wierded-out sounds and voices. Those who aren't familiar
with Minter and his previous games may find these things out of place, but
Minter fans wouldn't have it any other way (remember playing as Flossie in
Defender Plus?). All the audio is super-crisp, and comes through in
surround sound, both SFX and Music. Gone are the days of MODs and
compressed audio to fit on a cart. The huge DVD capacity is wonderful for
audio in all DVD games, no question, and T3K takes advantage.

So what could possibly be wrong with such an awesome game? Well, the
framerate could use to be just a tad higher. If it were so, then it would
be possible to leave on the cool background effects while playing (turning
them off does provide an overall speed boost). While you won't be paying
much attention to the backgrounds while playing anyways, it would have
been nice to not have to turn them off for maximum playability. Also, the
lack of differing bonus levels is missed from Tempest 2000. In T3K we're
limited to -rainbow bacon- bonus levels in increasing difficulty. They say
variety is the spice of life, you know!

Before bringing this review to a close, I need to put things into
perspective a bit. While the -big boys- like Sony, Nintendo, Sega, etc
will throw a team of 20-30 people onto a game with seemingly unlimited
resources at their disposal, Jeff Minter goes it (basically) alone. The
fact that he can code an entire game of this caliber - one that keeps up
with the competition in more ways than one - really speaks of how much
talent Minter really has. The world needs more YaK's, no question! And
while the big pull of NUON may be its advanced DVD playback features and
its versatility, Tempest 3000 will put NUON gaming in a respected light
and will undoubtedly sell many NUON machines (and probably already has).

Graphics - 10

     Insane effects you've never seen anywhere else. Where does YaK come
     up with this stuff?

Sound/Music - 9.5

     Ditch the song up in the 80s-90s and it'd be flawless.

Control - 9.5

     Awesome. Just slightly higher framerate would have boosted it to a

Fun Factor - 11

     The closest thing to videogame crack that there has ever been.
     Addiction is not a powerful enough word.

Overall (not an average) - 100% (even the minor flaws can't hamper this
game's awesomeness)

                                    Part 2

Tempest 3000 is beyond words. It's beyond numbers. It's beyond any game
that has ever been released. Videogames were created for the sole purpose
of Tempest 3000's existence. It is a videogame in it's rawest and most
pure form. Tempest 3000 has not a single flaw. Therefore numbers should
not be used to rate it, but if it will make you happy:

Graphics - 10
Sound/Music - 10
Control/Gameplay - 10
Funfactor - 10
Replay Value - 10
Overall - 100%

Graphics - Bliss. Pure graphical bliss. Mind bending visuals slamming you
in the face from all directions. The screen is bursting with colors,
swirling particle explosions, pulsating webs, pulsating enemies, pulsating
shots, pulstating pulsars...
It is a sight to behold. Comments from bystanders who have been there when
Tempest 3000 was being played include "This is the best looking game I've
ever seen" and "Damn, that's insane". No joke. It is the best looking game
ever seen as well. The framerate is improved over the demo as well,
although it wasn't bad in the demo. It's impossible to estimate how many
frames per second at which it runs, because the graphics are just too
different from conventional games. Not a single polygon to be seen, which
brings up the thought on if it even uses polygons at all... sure it
does, but due to massive anti-aliasing there is not an edge to be seen.
The anti-aliasing gives the game a very smoothed over, almost blurry look.
The word blurry sounds detrimental though. T3K's graphics are blurry to an
almost dreamlike state, and they look absolutely gorgeous. No questions
asked, this is without a doubt the most unique and amazing looking game
ever created, and no game could ever possibly begin to duplicate it.

Sound/Music - If it was possible to go over 100%, this is what would push
it beyond the limit. Explosive sound accompanies a slammin' soundtrack,
all wrapped up into a neat little package that will absolutely blow your
mind. The sounds take what T2K did, injects it with massive amounts of
steroids and lets it loose for our gaming pleasure. Gone is the irritating
sound of the particle lazer, present is the exhilirating thump of firing a
homing missile. Bassy explosions provide for a more satisfying
enemy-blasting experience. It's quite a thrill. While the sound is
improved over T2K, it's the music that really stands out. Present is the
entire T2K soundtrack, and intermixed are new T3K specific tracks that are
absolutely amazing. The new tracks are done by three fellows, T(NT) who is
a mate of the Yak's, Andre Meyer and James Grunke. The tracks from T(NT)
are great. "Intimidation" is the favorite done by him, which is the soung
featured in the T3K Demo. Again,  "Intimidation" starts out very basic,
but spirals into one amazing song. The tracks that really stand out,
though, are the ones done by Andre Meyer, whose songs remind very much
of two favorite bands/musicians, VNV Nation and Apoptygma Berzerk. Both
bands are European techno/goth, and playing Tempest 3000 with music that
good is an experience to behold. The track "Flash" starts out with rolling
claps of thunder and goes on to sound much like "Dark Angel", "Procession"
or "Standing" by VNV Nation, and even "Eclipse" and "Starsign" by
Apoptygma Berzerk whose lyrics and sounds are often more dark and violent
than VNV Nation's. Visit Andre Meyer's page, where you can
download "Flash" and remixes of the second song featured on T3K, "Breath".
Then there is the one track by James Grunke which is not very good... It
just doesn't seem to fit in with the other in-game tracks, and is nothing
really special on it's own either. Also included in the game is the entire
T2K Soundtrack, which is played throughout the game. Every other group of
levels seems to switch off between a new song, and a Tempest 2000 song,
which is great. Hearing the song heard in the first levels of T2K was
almost a feeling of nostalgia, and works great for T3K. Overall, the music
is wonderful and they better release an official soundtrack or my VLM-2 is
going to be quite unhappy.

Control/Gameplay - Gaming ecstasy. It costs the same $20 that the drug
costs, but T3K  doesn't damage your brain! Actually, one could see T3K
damaging ones brain due to the pure addictiveness and the adrenaline rush
it causes, but that's beside the point. The gameplay is absolutely
flawless, and is improved light years beyond the Demo, and it one-ups
Tempest 2000 as well. The first noticeable difference is the control. The
clunky control of the Demo is gone, your 'pest glides along the rim faster
than it ever has. If you are maneuvering one direction and you want to go
the other, your 'pest switches directions with utmost accuracy. Something
that was changed for the better in T3K is the method of jumping. Gone is
the straight up jump power-up, and present is the new method which
consists of hovering. Every time you acquire a power up it adds to the
fuel of your 'pest. Once you get above 5 power-ups you can hover almost
indefinitely. The first power up you collect allows you to do a slight
hop, which isn't that useful, but is great for jumping over a pulsar
infected lane. The second power up gives you the ability to hover for a
good 2-3 seconds, which is all the time you need to lay waste to any
threats. The rest of the power-ups are gravy as far as hovering is
concerned, any past the second power-up give you more than enough time to
go about your destructive business. Not much else has been changed from
T2K, there are lots more enemies to deal with (which is not necessarily a
good thing, you will have nightmares of Frank Zappers, guaranteed) Overall
the gameplay is awesome, and could only be improved upon by the release of
a rotary controller, which Jeff Minter actually hinted toward existing

Funfactor - The constant references to various drugs are not without
reason. Tempest 3000 is almost as addictive as anything that smelly guy
hanging out on the street corner can sell you. You will be addicted to
this game, every level gets increasingly difficult, and every level has
something new to thrash you around like a ragdoll. You will be
discouraged, you will be frustrated, but you will always, always come back
for more. Some levels are beyond fun, to the point where they seem too
good to be true. The game, as a whole is too good to be true. Nothing
comes even remotely close, and until Mr. Minter makes another game, it
doubts any game ever will.

Replay Value - "128 levels of hardcore mayhem". Oh, they are hardcore
mayhem and there definitely are 128 of them. As stated before, you will
be coming back for more. The later levels are so damned hard, but at the
same time they all feel just the slightest bit possible. You feel like you
have it nailed, and after the 15th try you nail it. It never gets old, it
never gets boring, and you never get tired of it. There's not much more to
say about it... It's without a doubt the most amazing game ever
witnesses in one's career of videogame playing for all the reasons that

Overall - Some reviewers believe that no game is perfect. They score a
game all 10s, but they are tricky and give it only 99.9% because of that
fact. They have a point though, perfect 10's or 100% scores are thrown
around and given to games that don't truly deserve them. Tempest 3000 is a
game that does truly deserve 100%, and if it was possible to go above that
it would. It is the reason to own a NUON, just as Tempest 2000 was the
reason to own a Jaguar. Naturally, there will be other games worth owning,
but it highly doubts any of those will be able to top T3K. Please, do
yourself a favor and buy this game. Some of you reading this probably
might not have a DVD Player, and if you owe it to yourself to buy any of
the NUON Enhanced DVD Players if you enjoy games at all, because Tempest
3000 is gaming nirvana.

                                    Part 3
       The YaK snares us in his wicked Web again-By Sal Manfredonia

Tempest, created by Dave Theurer and produced by Atari, was one of the
most popular and unique arcade shoot'em-up games of the early 1980s. The
game is fondly remembered for its colorful vector graphics which gave a 3D
appearance that was rarely seen at the time, and its motley assortment of
enemies. Tempest 2000 was a successful 1990s update for the Atari Jaguar
system, developed by Jeff "YaK" Minter. To this day, T2K is still
considered to be one of the best updates of a videogame from the classic
era, having retained many unique aspects of the original while
implementing its own twists on the gameplay. Now, Minter has once again
updated the game for the new millennium, and presented it on the NUON
platform as Tempest 3000. Does the Minter magic work on Tempest for a
second time?

Upon loading Tempest 3000, the first thing you will notice is the unique
graphical style of the game. Mr. Minter has done a fine job of
approximating the crisp, clean lines of a vector monitor on your ordinary
television screen. The lines that make up the Webs, the characters, and
even the text are anti-aliased so that no jagged edges are apparent. There
are even increased intensity levels when two lines intersect. It's as
close to a vector screen as you're going to get!

At the same time, the backgrounds have hundreds of scaled geometric shapes
swirling and writhing at you, much like the starfield of Tempest 2000. The
colors on the background objects are subdued, so as not to distract the
player from the action on the Web. The frame rate is quite smooth, but it
suffers ever so slightly from the presence of the background effects
(although it's still smoother than T2K). There is an option to turn off
the background effects; doing so ensures completely smooth gameplay.

The sound is a real treat! The soundtrack from Tempest 2000 is often
considered to be some of the best techno gaming music ever, and T3K also
does not disappoint. There are 19 musical selections in the game,
consisting of all 12 tracks from the Tempest 2000 soundtrack CD (a remixed
version of the original cartridge's music, which was packaged with the
Jaguar CD drive), as well as 7 completely new compositions. T2K fans will
find the new T3K music tracks to be worthy.

The game's sound effects are also clear and distinct. Some of the enemies
have audio cues that actually aid gameplay, so be sure to keep your ears
open while playing! There are also a number of entertaining sampled
sounds, including spoken voices (human as well as electronic), and even
the sounds of Jeff's sheep and goat. One of my favorites is the verbal
taunt, "You are dead - try again," that sounds like it was produced by
some deranged Speak & Spell toy.

After reading all of this, some of you might be wondering what was
actually improved in the gameplay itself. Well, that may be the biggest
surprise yet. Read on for a description of the changes T3K brings to
classic Tempest and Tempest 2000 play.

Meet the New Bringers of Electric Death

First, you'll want to familiarize yourself with the enemies. Of course,
all of the classic Tempest enemies are here: Flippers, Tankers, Spikers
(and the Spikes that they build), Fuseballs, and the dreaded Pulsars.
Surprisingly, most of the enemies introduced in T2K (such as Mirrors,
Demon Heads, and UFO's) haven't made the transition to T3K, although some
of the new enemies incorporate traits of the missing T2K villains. Other
T3K enemies have powers never before seen in a Tempest game, such as the
Rotors which spin the Web on the screen, and the Unmaker-Spiders that can
break apart looped Webs and refold them into different shapes in realtime.
A Web that's populated with both of these guys is indeed chaotic! Other
dangerous new foes include Stealth Flippers, who fade in and out of
visibility as they approach your Claw, and Super Spikers, who build
super-size Spikes that can extend beyond the Web's rim!

A full description of the cast of characters can be found in Jeff Minter's
Unofficial Guide to Tempest 3000. The manual has similar descriptions of
the enemies, although a few of the words and phrases were softened up a
bit (this game is rated E for Everyone, remember?).

There are 128 levels which have been lovingly designed by the YaK, each
with their own unique Web shape. After you pass level 128, the levels are
generated algorithmically. I have no idea if the game actually ends at
some point or not.

The difficulty curve is just right. The first few levels could probably be
completed by a small child, but after 20 to 30 levels it becomes quite
challenging, but never so much that you become frustrated. In playing, I
might have been inspired to shout a few angry words, but the game is
always fair; I never felt that I lost because of a "cheap death." And, of
course, there are plenty of powerups available to extend the length of
your survival.

Feel the Power

The powerup system from Tempest 2000 is still here, although most of the
powerups themselves have been altered. The first one you collect enables
auto shooting, meaning that your Claw fires continuously without your
having to hold down the A button. When I first heard about this, I thought
that this would surely ruin the game. After all, in the original Tempest
as well as Tempest 2000, it's generally not wise to keep firing constantly
(because of the gap in firing, which has been mostly eliminated in T3K).
But in practice, I can say autofire is not a bad thing, mainly because of
other gameplay changes that have been implemented.

The second powerup enables homing missiles. Now, when you press the A
button (which fires normal shots prior to getting the first powerup), you
fire a different bullet which can seek out enemies in neighboring lanes.
Releasing the A button reverts back to autofiring normal shots. Sounds
like a piece of cake, right? Well, here's where the strategy starts to
kick in - you see, the homing missile shots pass through Spikes. That's
great for nailing an enemy way down the Web past a Spike, but it's
terrible if you actually want to erode a Spike. To whittle a Spike, you
have to stay steady in its lane and just fire normal shots.

The third powerup gives you the Remote Destroyer. This is analogous to the
A.I. Droid from T2K, although the Remote Destroyer sometimes swoops down
the Web and rams enemies rather than just shooting them.

The fourth powerup is a warp capsule. Get three of these and you enter the
bonus round after finishing the level, just like good ol' T2K. The only
bonus round in the game is similar to the "Riding the Bacon" round of T2K,
where you try to fly through a series of rings without missing one.

The fifth powerup increases the amount of bonus points that you receive
upon completing a level. Sometimes you'll get bonuses of 1,000, 2,000,
4,000, or 8,000 when a level's done. I think it can go up to 16,000,
judging from the fact that there's a vector object of "16,000" in the
"Inspect Vector Objects" screen that you can play around with, but I
haven't gotten 16,000 myself. I'm still a bit hazy as to what else
influences your end-of-level bonus, but I notice that using Superzappers,
using hover, or dying all seem to have a negative effect.

What's hover, you ask? Remember the Jump powerup in Tempest 2000? T3K
replaces Jump with hover. You press and hold the right trigger button to
float off of the lip of the Web, then release to descend back onto the
Web. To prevent overuse of the hover function, there's a fuel gauge,
represented by a bar underneath your score. You start off on empty, but
upon getting your first powerup, you're given a short fuel bar. The bar is
lengthened with each successive powerup you gain throughout the level, and
is reset to zero when you die or reach the next level. The longer the bar,
the more hang time that's available to you. The bar slowly recharges when
you land on the Web.

Tempest 3000 also has a multiplier that starts at x1, and increases to x2,
x3, x4, up to x5 with each powerup you collect. The more powerups you get,
the more points you score for wiping out the baddies. But, Mr. Minter has
implemented a clever technique that classic gamers will surely love. If
you use either the Superzapper or the hover button, the multiplier
instantly reverts back to x1! This means that when the action gets frantic
(and it will), you, the gamer, have to decide what's more important:
should you rely on your Superzapper or hover to get you out of the jam, or
risk your neck for the big points? Thoughtful touches like this ensure the
game has lasting appeal.

When all is said and done, YaK has produced a commendable successor to
Tempest 2000. He has once again raised the bar on how an update of a
classic videogame should be done. This is an exemplary first-generation
effort of gaming on the NUON platform, and hopefully will be a sign of
more good things to come.

Alive SE - EIL 2001