The Jaguar Lives On Through TxK!

February 12th saw the release of Llamasoft's latest entry in the pantheon of the Tempest series, TxK for the PS Vita. I know this is a Jaguar site, but I just couldn't ignore this release especially since I'm such a big fan of Tempest 2000. I managed to get a go on both TxK and Tempest 3000 on Nuon at Play Expo 2013, and even had the privilege of having TxK's controls explained to me by Jeff Minter himself.

I knew back then, after only 10-15 minutes of gameplay that TxK was going to be special...and now it's here, I'm pleased to report that it delivers on every level. It retains the thumping music, psychedelic visual style and frantic gameplay of Tempest games gone by, but adds several new features and some pin-sharp HD graphics too. There are also online leaderboards which let you see how well (or how badly, in my case) you measure up against other TxK players from around the world. Actually, it can be a little humbling when you see people at the top of the leaderboard with scores in the millions when you're only just managing half a million...but that just makes me want to play more and improve my scores!

If you've played Tempest 2000 (and you should have if you've found this place!), you'll be instantly familiar with TxK. You simply move your little yellow ship thingy around the top of the space-web, shoot baddies who try to climb up, collect power ups...and just try to avoid being caught or shot (the jump (Right Trigger) and Super Zapper (tap the touchscreen) are also present and correct). Some aspects have been upgraded slightly since Tempest 2000 - the AI Droid has had a makeover (it's now a glowing ball of death, instead of a...erm...wireframe cuboid of death), and it can also 'rescue' you if you're caught by a meanie and dragged to potential doom at the bottom of the web.

The tranquil special stages are also back, and are pretty much identical to the ones in the Jaguar game - simply target your crosshair and fly through the rings to rack up mega point bonuses. A new addition is the motion-sensitive section between stages where you can guide a little spark of light through rings, again to earn bonus points...but to be honest I'm not overly enamoured with these stages. Not because they're bad or anything; more because the PS Vita's motion sensor isn't the best and it makes these mid-stage sections a bit cack. Top marks for trying something new with the hardware though.

That aside, TxK is an amazing title and one of the best available for the Vita. The soundtrack is as pulsing as it ever was (but this is definitely a game that should be played with headphones...and by headphones I mean big, powerful cans; not piddly in-ear buds). With all this praise in mind, I've taken the liberty of producing a little video comparing the graphics and sound of both Tempest 2000 and TxK:

Obviously, due to the lack of a video-out port on the PS Vita, I had to record the footage of TxK on my Fujifilm HS30EXR bridge camera so that's why the sound is a little tinny and the video a little washed out when compared to the Tempest 2000 footage which I recorded with a proper capture device. But if you can look past that, the video gives a good approximation of the similarities between the two. Is TxK a better game than Tempest 2000? That's a difficult question to answer simply because of the gulf in time between releases and also the differences in the harware each game is running on. I'm tempted to dodge the question by saying simply this: both games are epic showcases of genius, and TxK should be seen as less of a sequel and more of an evolution of what was already a pretty flawless arcade shooter.


  1. Vita TV capture soon hopefully :0)

    And perfect summing up, there's no point comparing the two directly, everybody needs both in their lives!

    1. Vita capture soon? Interesting...

      On TxK & T2K - Agreed! :)