by Alva Chua
The hangover dissipates, but despite remembering mutant camels, I may not be qualified to review Jeff Minter’s TxK.
It’s simple enough. In an era where far too many games trade in nostalgia for their own sake, the sharp minimal vector graphics remain stylish without hammering their point home.
Like its eighties inspiration, Tempest, you are staring into a pit and sliding along the edge, shooting at enemies that rush towards you. If you wanted to fulfil an urge to move frantically and shoot into a screen, there are times when TxK fulfils that need as much as the latest military-themed first person shooter.
The game remains interesting to look at, and escalates to visually challenging as the screen fills with more level elements and enemies, though it never overtly goes as far as Minter’s Space Giraffe in creating a carnivorous neon ecosystem to devour your eyes
Then there’s the air-horn, right on the title screen. Harking back to a Jericho of raves when I reviewed games for a living. To have called it reviewing “professionally” would be highly inappropriate.
TxK is the same game that Jeff Minter has been making since he made Tempest 2000 in 1994. There’s something of Don Quixote in releases of the series appearing on failed consoles and experimental multimedia disc players over the years. The elements of the game remain true throughout each iteration. Initially simple but ultimately disorienting graphics, a pounding soundtrack that someone uninformed will refer to as “techno” and basic high-score chasing survival gameplay.
TxK and the Tempest series are never overtly nostalgic, but structurally only comprise elements that evoke nostalgia. It’s inescapable in that effect. Presenting this latest release in a portable format only serves to make its effect more palatable and direct. Food-pill gaming for a retro-future.
One of the level names, “C Sickness”, is the punchline to a joke I told myself back when I was eleven.
I might actually be overqualified to review TxK.