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Tempest Tubes - The Atari Times

Tempest Tubes

Totally tubular, man!
by Darryl Brundage

September 5, 2014
Now here's a game that went TOTALLY under my radar back in the day. I've been confused about this one since first hearing about it on the net only just a few years ago (at the time of this writing)!

Namely: why didn't I SEE, much less play this game *ANYWHERE*? I can't believe I never saw this one, even though it's categorized as to supposedly getting a "wide release" back then, according to its entry in its Killer List of Video Games page. I could understand if I lived in a small town that never had an arcade, but I lived in freakin' HOUSTON, for God's sake! The fourth largest city in the country! Memorial City Mall, at one point, I do believe had literally *five* game rooms at one time, with Kyptar's and Celebrity Cafe having several dozen games apiece!

Well, whatever the deal was, Tempest was originally supposed to be a 3-D ripoff of Space Invaders, but then took on a totally different life of its own, as the player controlled a blaster that could only move around the edges of a bunch of levels. Spinners would attack, which, if they made it to the rim of a level, would rapidly flip for the player's ship, and Tankers split into two Spinners when shot (or reached a level's rim). Spikers would lay down spikes that could destroy the player's blaster when the player warped to the next level, Fuseballs could ram into the player's blaster, and Pulsars would make the space at the end of a rim (oh yay, that rhymed) disappear...and the player along with it, if they weren't careful. (For more information, see my review of Tempest here on TAT, but then, you pretty much KNOW this game already though, don't you?)

Well, whatever happened with this game, it was a ROM hack with just different-looking levels than the original, but its gameplay was left pretty much intact. A few interesting notes include Level 12 looking almost exactly like 13 from the original (plus level 11 is a more "bumpy" version of the original level 11), whereas levels five and nine not only takes up only the right half of the screen, but they're so hard to see what the hell's going on you have to turn your head to the side, since everything's squished to the left side! So you have to tilt your head to the left to try to view it better (and then on top of THAT, level 10 is also tilted at a freakin' angle to boot! Whee!)!

And, levels three and seven have dangerous "dead ends" that aren't easily seen until it's too late, which you'll lose quite a few lives before figuring that out as you wonder why you've stopped moving and you can't seem to get out; uh oh! (insert exploding blaster/you lost a life noise/player cursing soundclip here)

The graphics and sounds are the exact same as the original, and the gameplay is mostly the same, there's just a few play mechanics that have slightly changed due to funky level design (like the ones with the "dead ends" that I mentioned). I assume the control was the exact same as the original's, having the spinner and all, but I can't say for sure since I never saw or played this one in an arcade, so I'm leaving that blank in the ratings column.

This really isn't that much of an upgrade from the original, and due to some levels being nearly impossible to tell what's going on at times, isn't quite as fun. It's just pretty much for bragging rights saying that you've got this in your game room/collection, for those that have a Tempest machine with this ROM installed (I've seen listings for such a thing on an arcade mailing list I'm on). Other than that, it doesn't really do much for the original. Heck, I couldn't even think of many sarcastic things to say with this one.

Oh, I know! Why did the Tempest fan cross the road? To try to find an arcade that had Tempest (Tubes) in it!

Ok, I'm done now. (sticks fork in self...yep, I'm done)

Yes, the screens are from the original...
But are the look is the same for Tempest Tubes.
I think you still have to shoot stuff...
Tempest Tubes
System: Arcade
Publisher: Atari
Genre: Shooter
Graphics Score: 90%
Sound & Music Score: 95%
Gameplay Score: 85%
Control Score: 0%

Final Score: 85%

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