NUON Game Review
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.
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
Sound/Music – 9.5
Control – 9.5
Fun Factor – 11
Overall (not an average) – 100% (even the minor flaws can’t hamper this game’s awesomeness)
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