The original Tempest game was designed in 1981 by Dave Theurer who was looking to design a first-person Space Invaders. If you've ever seen an arcade cabinet, you've seen the monsters that weren't able to make it. Without an official storyline, Tempest players thought of themselves as "live wires" defending an electrical world from flippers, tankers, and sparks. 13 years would pass, but Tempest would not be forgotten.
In 1994, Tempest 2000 would be released. It was the ultimate update of the original, programmed by a llama-loving Englishman named Jeff Minter. Jeff, notorious for programming colorfully weird games on the Atari ST, did nothing less with T2K. The game is Dave Theurer's, but the graphics, sounds, intensity are all Yak's.
As you undoubtedly know, T2K's graphics are mind-blowing. The polygonal webs move in a three-dimensional motion that simply must be seen to be believed. The game also uses a variety of special graphical effects such as the pixel-shatter, which "explodes" your score over the screen, and the now famous "Melt-O-Vision". This particular technique, well... melts and twists the entire screen into a beautiful blur of pixels. Some people complain that it's hard to see what's going on with all these effects. To that I say, "Just play the game and shut up."
What can I say about the music that hasn't already been said? It's won "Best Music" awards, been re-released on CD, and the .MOD files are still played by thousands of people on their computers. The sound and voice effects are clear as a bell, and fit wonderfully with the techno-soundtrack which has set a standard for all games to come.
Do I think Tempest 2000 is better than Tempest X? You're darn tootin'. And if you read my review of Defender 2000, you know that opinion has nothing to do with any bias towards the Jaguar. I felt Defender 2000 added TOO MUCH to the original formula which made the Plus mode a better update. And after reading about all the stuff that was added to Tempest X, I've come to that same conclusion.
In addition, both the Saturn version of Tempest 2000 and Tempest X are missing a key ingredient. Jeff Minter. The PC version of Tempest 2000, while a great game, has a much different feel than the Jaguar version. Tempest 2000 PC was nothing but an imitation of the real thing. And without the Yak's programming genius, the Saturn and PSX versions are destined to be mere imitations of the original.
Many people in the gaming biz think Shigeru Miyamoto is the world's greatest programmer; a video-game god. Well, let me tell you something: I never felt excited or powerful playing a Mario game. Never felt an intense rush of adrenaline with Mario. And I NEVER felt my heart pound so fast from a Mario game! Miyamoto never gave me anything real or physical. Jeff Minter did. So, I ask you, who is the video-game god?
Tempest 2000 is as close to a perfect game as you can get. The graphics, the sounds, the music, the gameplay, and the intensity are unequaled by any other game. I only hope the imitations are half as good as the original.