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TxK Reviewed by Cyril Lachel on . Instead of simply recycling the Tempest 2000 formula, TxK evolves the 33 year old franchise in a number of substantial ways. The 100 stages spin, shake, move and morph, all in the most mesmerizing ways possible. It's a sight to behold and the most exciting portable game I have ever played. TxK is essential to every PS Vita library. Rating: 100%
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  • A+
If you would indulge me for a moment, I would like to take a trip back in time and tell you the story about why I became a video game critic. While most people want to show off the newest games and high-tech hardware, I was always more interested in shedding a light on titles that never got a fair shake. I'm talking about forgotten gems whose only sin was being attached to a failed console. As everybody raved about Halo and Gears of War, I was busy tracking down the kinds of games few were talking about.

I never bought into the exaggerated notion that some consoles were inherently awful. No matter how maligned the system was, I knew there were be at least a handful of games worth playing. The example I would always use was the Atari Jaguar, which is often cited as one of the worst game consoles of all time. But as many were writing off the 64-bit system, I was busy highlighting great games like Tempest 2000 and Rayman.

TxK (PS Vita)Click For the Full Picture Archive

I tell this story not to be nostalgic for the early days of my writing career, but rather to explain that I am not able to be objective when it comes to Tempest 2000. Not only is it one of my favorite games of all time, but it's a big reason I started writing all those years ago. When people tell me that there's no single game worth buying a system for, I sit them down in front of my Jaguar and watch as they fall in love with Jeff Minter's neo-retro masterpiece.

Forget side-scrolling and overhead shooters, I was always drawn to Tempest's simple 3D tube design. Instead of shooting to the left or right, I was firing into the screen, killing the enemies that were slowly walking up the tube. There was simply nothing like Tempest at the time, and even now, it remains one style of old school shooter that is rarely cloned.

TxK (PS Vita)Click For the Full Picture Archive

Although it doesn't use the name, TxK may as well be the proper sequel to Tempest 2000 (or Tempest 3000, if you are more of a Nuon fan). It doesn't just look and control like Tempest, but it actually uses many of the same power-ups, a few of the level designs and a similar bonus stage. And that's not even taking into account that it uses the same vector-style graphics we've seen employed in all previous Tempest games. TxK is the Tempest sequel I never thought would come out.

Without sounding redundant, TxK has players walking around the edge of a long tube, shooting enemies that are slowly making their way up the three-dimensional shape. Along the way, players will pick up power-ups that boost their fire rate, allow them to jump and even create a helpful AI droid, all in a desperate hope to clear the stage of every bad guy and move on to the next shape.

TxK (PS Vita)Click For the Full Picture Archive

Of course, none of this is as easy as it sounds. The 100 stages are filled with many types of enemies, each with their own deadly attacks. The early enemies will do their best to grab hold of you and drag our yellow hero down the 3D tube into the dark emptiness of space. On the other hand, later enemies include bull heads that launch their horns and flower blooms that create spikes. We'll run into enemies that split into two when killed, as well as foes that electrify one entire lane of the tube. There are too many types of enemies to list here, but players will need to memorize the patterns of every one if they intend to complete this lengthy shooter.

Although I keep referring to the tubes in each stage, the truth is that many levels do not feature traditional tubes. There are plenty of levels that are a flat line or take the shape of the letter "U." Many stages will move around, changing shapes right in the middle of a tense firefight. The levels in TxK shake, rotate, expand and morph into different designs, all in the hopes of messing the player up.
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