I was mostly looking to play games from Arcadian at last week’s California Extreme Arcade and Pinball Show (yes, I’m still thinking about that!), and I did. Throughout my time there I got my hands on Dragon’s Lair, Centipede and Millipede, and Crystal Castles. But there were a couple of others I wanted to play as well. One was Joust, which enjoyed a brief time of great popularity in my school. Another was Tempest.
I was familiar with Tempest in the original arcade days. But I wasn’t that interested in it for some reason. Maybe it was the story, maybe it was the vector graphics, maybe it was the spinner control. I don’t know. I just wasn’t interested even though it was featured on one of my favorite movies of all time, Night of the Comet.
I’ve become more interested in it recently. Again, I don’t know why. It might be nostalgia, or it might be that I’ve learned the game was inspired by a game designer who dreamed about standing at the top of a hole in the ground and shooting demons as they tried to climb out. In any case, I wanted to play it and I got to. I got to play both a regular upright Tempest and a cabaret version. I did equally well on both, getting to the stages where you have to avoid the spikes. I still didn’t understand it very well. The action moves so fast and the enemies are so bizarre that I never figured out what I was shooting or what would happen if I didn’t shoot it. Still, I thought it was fun. While vector graphics aren’t my favorite, they are bright and crisp and neat to look at. The spinner was a unique controller (though I found it harder to finesse than a trackball). And the action was really great. I’m glad I got to try this one, and I hope to give it a few more tries in the future.