Tempest 4000

Game review by
Paul Semel, Common Sense Media
Tempest 4000 Game Poster Image
Updated arcade classic has bad controls, isn't fun.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

Challenging arcade gameplay is a great example of why practice makes perfect.

Positive Role Models & Representations

No characters present in game.

Ease of Play

While the controls are simple, gameplay gets very difficult as you progress.

Violence & Scariness

Though you're shooting lasers at your targets, there's no blood, gore, or any indication that you're shooting at something alive.

Language
Consumerism

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Tempest 4000 is the latest take on a classic arcade game for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Windows PC. Action and combat in the game is safe for all ages. It has no inappropriate content of any kind, focusing instead on re-creating some of the graphics from the original game. While you're frequently shooting enemies, the pixelated graphics means there's no gore; in fact, there's no indication as to whether you're shooting a living thing, a robot, or a computer construct.

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What's it about?

Like other new versions of '80s arcade games, TEMPEST 4000 doesn't have a story. Instead, you just take on a series of increasingly difficult challenges. In this game, you're moving along the edges of geometric planes and tubes, shooting at the enemies that move up these objects toward you. Once you've destroyed them all, you fly down the plane or tube to the next level, hopefully avoiding traps your enemies have left behind that you haven't destroyed yet. Survival seems to be your only motivation for each stage -- that, and your high score.

Is it any good?

While this is a mostly faithful remake of a classic arcade game, it fails to capture what was fun about the original. Like the 1981 arcade game that inspired it, Tempest 4000 is a shooter in which you move along the edge of multi-segmented geometric planes and tubes. Along the way, you shoot at enemies advancing their way down these shapes toward you, often leaving spikes in their wake. You'll need to shoot and destroy these spikes, because once you eliminate every enemy, you fly down the plane or tube on your way to the next level, and hitting one of those spikes is, naturally, bad for your health. 

While fans of the original can see glimpses of the game they blew so many quarters on nearly 30 years ago, it falls short. First off, this game has a terrible techno soundtrack; thankfully, you can turn it down or off. More problematic is that the thumbsticks or directional pad on a modern controller don't work as well as they should. There's also no option to use the triggers to move left or right, when it seems like they'd work better. That said, the mini-game you play as you fly to the next level is far more interesting than just sitting there between stages, and the unlockable ability to jump (moving off a stage for a moment while still being able to fire) is as helpful and clever as it was in the previous remake, 1994's Tempest 2000. But without better controls, Tempest 4000 is still a flawed attempt to recapture one of gaming's great arcade classics.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about violence in video games. Is the impact of violence reduced in Tempest 4000 because you're fighting robots or computers with pixelated visuals and there's no blood or gore? Is the impact of violence increased because you can only destroy enemies by shooting them?

  • Does this updated version of a classic game seem expensive to you? How do you judge how much to spend on a game, and how much is too much?

  • Do you think that making a new installment of a classic arcade game like Tempest 4000 adds to its legacy, or would it only appeal to fans of the original?

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