"King Dirge is trying to steal the rhythm out of planet Rhythmia! It's up to Tempo, the hyper Groovin' grasshopper with special 'Sound Energy' to save the world of music from the evil clutches of King Dirge." And that quote, from the back of the ever-flimsy cardboard box, sets you up for a very unoriginal experience sheathed in pretty graphics.
Tempo borrows liberally from many games of the period; for example, it attempts to take Prince of Persia's poll swinging and apply it, only with the poles replaced by floating clarinets. It doesn't seem to serve to improve the game play, you'll get a couple power ups and cross a few gaps, that's about it. The most blatant steal how ever, is occasionally you will come across a pad where you dance and every enemy on screen dies. The enemies may not dance with you, but that seems to be a rip off of the underrated (and ruined by allegations of pedophilia) game "Moonwalker."
This game is definitely visually charged, Tempo himself has plenty of different animations. The levels are colorful and vibrant; the enemies, while not making much sense, are also good looking and well animated. One of the games major flaws is the backgrounds, they are colorful and animated, but too much so. The backgrounds move around and have so much going on that it sometimes becomes hard to tell the background from the level. So you will find yourself jumping to ledges that aren't there and getting killed by enemies that you first thought where part of the scenery.
Speaking of trying to navigate the distracting levels, the level design is terrible; even those levels that do fit the theme (like the inside of a tape deck) seem to be random ledges and platforms strewn together. There are several levels that make no sense what so ever, in one level you go through some ones digestive track starting with the mouth. The developers even seem to admit that their levels are confusing and bad, they put in directional arrows ... directional arrows that you will get lost without. Some games have them just to make it easy on kids; this game has them because the levels have no sense of direction
This game is based on sound, so the sound must be good, right? Well, it is defiantly above average, I have to give it that (though I have to subtract points for the horrible rap song at the beginning) ... but honestly Sonic and Mario's sound, while not as hi-tech; is just better, Tempos audio is shoved down your throat.
Luckily Tempo controls well, and you can easily ignore the unoriginality. If you look past the faults and pretend Sonic and Mario were never born you may have a minimal amount of fun with this game.