Review: TxK (PS Vita)

TxK-PS-Vita-ReviewIn 1981 Atari released the arcade classic Tempest, designed by Dave Theurer. The follow ups to the tube shooter daddy were made by British industry legend Jeff Minter. Now in 2014 Jeff Minter and Llamasoft are back with TxK a spiritual successor to the Tempest series on the PlayStation Vita.

Let's get something out of the way right now, this game is one of the most visually striking games available today! Saying that is actually quite a high water mark when you consider the company it keeps on the PlayStation Vita, games like Super Stardust Delta, Dragon's Crown, Muramasa Rebirth and WipEout 2048 are incredible looking games in their own right, but TxK manages to outshine even those beauties.

I have always been a huge fan of the Tempest franchise, when I was 10 I found an arcade cabinet at my local swimming pool hidden behind Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and X-Men machines, I didn't play Tempest by choice as the other machines were already occupied, so I thought 'what the hell' and put my first 50p into the machine, within seconds the visuals and super quick gameplay had me completely hooked! £3.50 later (in 1989 that was a lot of money) I had to be dragged away to join my friends on the Turtle machine. My love affair with Tempest had begun!

As the years rolled by I would always look out for a Tempest machine when ever we visited an arcade. I didn't get to play Tempest 2000 until 1999 when I bought a used Jaguar just to play this one game. I wasn't disappointed, I even tracked down Nuon to play Tempest 3000. I remember reading the Edge cover story in their December 2004 issue which was about Jeff Minter's GameCube exclusive Unity, I was immediately drawn back to the arcades of my youth and my hype for this title was through the roof, sadly we never got to see that game, but I'm sure it would have been amazing!

TxK Screenshot

TxK builds upon the Tempest formula and improves it in every way, the controls are super responsive, the music is incredible and possibly the best I have heard in the series. The instant I started playing TxK I was immersed into the game just as I was in 1989. Everything about this game is so refined, you can almost imagine yourself in a dark smokey arcade, the music pumping as the score racks up, the cursing as you have to restart due to a stupid judgement mistake you've made. The fundamentals of a great shooter are here, as you dodge and shoot your way through each stage, you find yourself in an almost Zen-like state, you become to almost play on instinct alone.
Each stage offers power ups to help defeat the oncoming enemies, these range from a simple but effective jump to a droid that will shoot automatically as it makes its way around the stage. After clearing a stage there is a bonus game where you guide yourself through a tunnel, if you do it so you are dead centre you will rack up more points. It's simple but compelling.

Jeff Minter and Llamasoft have created not only a game perfect for Vita, but a game that could well have been a perfect arcade cabinet game. To get that arcade feel, you must have your headphones on and maybe stand in a dark room.

There is an issue with the leader boards, it's hard to sort your friends scores as the leader board brings up your entire friend list, regardless of whether they have the game or not, it's a small issue and one that luckily hasn't cooled my love for this game.

Overall, I can't recommend this game enough, it's the best arcade tube shooter I have ever played and one of the best games you can get on your Vita. This game is Minter's opus!

TxK (Trailer)

Last Updated ( 06 November 2014 )  


(Link to this comment) suzzopher 2014-03-17 13:28
You can grab the excellent soundtrack here: only £3 too, go get it!!!
(Link to this comment) RetroSteveUK 2014-03-17 20:38
Sorry, but this just didn't float my boat at all. Slide around the outside of geometric shapes, firing at geometric shapes. Rinse, repeat. It's great if you want a psychedelic graphical and audio experience. I was persuaded to buy it because of all the rave reviews, but I now regret spending the money on it.

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