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Tempest 2000 is a 1994 remake by Jeff Minter of the Dave Theurer 1981 arcade game, Tempest. Originally an exclusive to the Atari Jaguar, the game has since been released on PC, Macintosh, PlayStation, and the Saturn. The game received critical praise for its 3D graphics, soundtrack, and gameplay.

Tempest 2000
Tempest 2000
Cover art of the original Atari Jaguar version
Developer(s) Atari Corporation, Llamasoft (Jaguar)
Imagitec Design (PC)
High Voltage Software (PS, SAT)
Publisher(s) Atari Corporation (Jaguar)
Atari Interactive (PC)
Interplay Productions (PS, SAT)
Producer(s) John Skruch
Designer(s) Jeff Minter
Programmer(s) Jeff Minter
Artist(s) Joby Wood
Writer(s) Joe Sousa
Composer(s) Alastair Lindsay
Ian Howe
Kevin Saville
Platform(s) Atari Jaguar, PC, Macintosh, PlayStation, Sega Saturn
Release Jaguar
  • NA: April 13, 1994
  • EU: 1994
  • JP: December 15, 1994
  • NA: October 31, 1996
  • EU: 1996
  • NA: October 31, 1996
  • EU: 1996
  • NA: 1996
  • EU: February, 1997
Genre(s) Fixed shooter
Mode(s) Single-player, multiplayer



Screenshot of one of the levels

Tempest 2000 modifies the gameplay of the original Tempest by adding bonus levels, power-ups, more sophisticated enemy types, and wildly varying web (level) designs. The game contains a total of 99 webs, with new frame colors and variations every 16 levels. In all versions, the player's progress is saved every couple of levels, and players are allowed to resume by using "keys" to return to the last stage the game saved at.

Power-ups appear as small floating polygons that appear after shooting a number of enemies. Catching the polygon will activate one of a number of progressively more useful capabilities:

  • Particle Laser
    Particle Laser enhances the ship's firepower and allows it to destroy spikes much more quickly.
  • Points
    Between certain power-ups, the player can gain bonuses of 2000 points.
  • Jump
    Allows the player to jump off of the web, useful for avoiding enemies that travel along the edge, and for avoiding the attack of Pulsars.
  • A.I. Droid
    An autonomous polygonal ship appears floating above the web, and shoots at enemies.
  • Warp Token
    Collecting three tokens gives access to a bonus stage following the current web.
  • Outta Here!
    Collecting this power-up will destroy all enemies on the web and warp the player to the next stage. However, spikes are not destroyed, and it is still possible to lose a life by hitting one as the player warps down the web.

If a power-up is caught while warping off of a completed web, the increasingly high-pitched sound of a woman saying "Yes! Yes! Yes!" is played, and the first power-up received in the next stage will be the A.I. Droid.

If the player successfully completes all 99 levels, a special "Beastly mode" is unlocked. This is a harder difficulty setting where the enemies move faster and fire more often.


At a gaming convention, Atari held a conference with prospective developers for the Atari Jaguar at which they listed off arcade games that they were considering having converted to the Jaguar, asking the developers to raise their hands at ones they wanted to work on. Jeff Minter volunteered to do Tempest as it was one of his favorite games.[1] At the launch party for the Jaguar in New York, the creator of the Atari Jaguar took Minter aside and told him that he felt Tempest 2000 was a poor demonstration of the Jaguar's capabilities. Though discouraged, Minter continued to work on the game until it was finished.[1]

The most common criticism with the Jaguar version of Tempest 2000 was the lack of a rotary controller similar to the controller on the Tempest arcade machine.[2][3] In fact, the game was programmed with an option to use just such a controller, despite the fact that Atari never released one. Such a controller was planned for development and release by Atari, but no prototypes exist.[citation needed] However, several homebrew options exist by using parts from a Jaguar controller and either an Atari 2600 Driving Controller or new, higher-precision rotary encoders. The one used by Jeff Minter during testing was made from a hacked-up 2600 driving controller.[citation needed]


Tempest 2000 was ported to MS-DOS, Macintosh, Sega Saturn, and Sony PlayStation game consoles, the latter version with several changes to the design under the name of Tempest X3.

Computer versionsEdit

The MS-DOS version contains optional AdLib and Roland MT-32 versions of the music, but lacks several of the visual effects of the console versions, such as the "Melt-O-Vision" transition effects. The Windows version is rendered in higher resolution, and has some unique glitches, like registering bonus level scores incorrectly.[citation needed]


The Saturn version, programmed by High Voltage Software,[4] is close to the original Jaguar version, except for the removal of the third type of bonus level. It uses most of the audio tracks from the Tempest 2000 soundtrack CD for gameplay. The speech samples were redone.[5]


Tempest X3, the Sony PlayStation version, was released in 1996, with updated graphics and sound. However, the following gameplay differences from the original version were identified by Jeff Minter in a Usenet post:[6]

  • The "AI Droid" only follows the player, instead of acting autonomously. A new, "Mega Droid" powerup rectifies this somewhat, but it takes a very long time within a level to acquire it.
  • Pulsars now move slowly around the top of the Web if they reach it (rather than electrifying the whole top edge the moment they arrive).
  • The Particle Laser is no more effective than the normal laser against Spikes (in the original, it destroys them very quickly).
  • Some of the harder, "sticking point" webs have been removed from the game entirely.

Entering the name "YIFF!" or "H_V_S" on the top highscore position activates a secret mode, allowing the user to choose to play the original Tempest 2000 game. Any high scores made in this mode are not saved, the music (wave-captured from the original modules) is muffled and the effectiveness of the Particle Laser against spikes is not restored.

The PlayStation version of Tempest X3 supports the PlayStation Mouse, Nyco Trackball and Namco's rotary neGcon analog controller.[citation needed]


Tempest 2000 The Soundtrack
Soundtrack album by Ian Howe, Alastair Lindsey, Kevin Saville, and Julian Hodgson
Released 1994 (1994)
Recorded 1994
Genre Techno, Breakbeat hardcore
Language English
Label Atari
Producer Imagitec Design Inc.

The original Jaguar version's music was created by Ian Howe, Alastair Lindsay and Kevin Saville[7][8] of Imagitec Design Inc. (a.k.a. Dream Weavers),[9] who also created the music for Jeff Minter's Defender 2000 on the Atari Jaguar.

The music was composed in the Commodore Amiga MOD music file format, although non-Jaguar releases of the game played music off of CD.[10] At the time of its release, the music soundtrack could also be purchased on CD directly from Atari. The CD was also bundled with the short lived Atari Jaguar CD unit to demonstrate the system's music playing abilities.[11] It became the basis for the audio for all conversions of the game to come, including the Saturn, PC, and PlayStation versions.

Soundtrack album track listingEdit

  1. "Thermal Resolution"
  2. "Mind's Eye"
  3. "T2K"
  4. "Ease Yourself"
  5. "Tracking Depth"
  6. "Constructive Demolition"
  7. "Future Tense"
  8. "Digital Terror"
  9. "Hyper Prism"
  10. "Glide Control"
  11. "Ultra Yak"
  12. "2000 Dub"


Review scores
Publication Score
EGM 8.5/10 (JAG)[3]
5.5/10 (PS1)[12]
GameSpot 3.5/10 (PS1)[13]
Next Generation       (PS1)[14]
Sega Saturn Magazine 80% (SAT)[15]

Tempest 2000 received general critical acclaim when released for the Jaguar. GamePro praised the graphics and high speed, said the music included "the best techno-rave tracks anywhere", and deemed the two-player competitive mode "well worth the price of the cart."[2] Electronic Gaming Monthly gave it their "Game of the Month" award, citing the "superb" techno soundtrack and "graphics that surpass the arcade version".[3] GameFan also gave the Jaguar version a positive review.[16] In a 1995 overview of Atari's history, Next Generation said of Tempest 2000 that "This single game probably did more for Atari's reputation than anything the company's marketing team had managed in the last five years."[17] Tempest 2000 sold more than 30,000 copies during its lifetime, making it the second best-selling game on the Jaguar, only behind Alien vs Predator.[18]

Tempest 2000 was awarded Best Jaguar Game of 1994 by Electronic Gaming Monthly.[19]

The PlayStation version was much less well-received. Jeff Gerstmann of GameSpot and Scary Larry of GamePro both said that it offers too little enhancements or additions over the by-then more than two years old Jaguar version.[13][20] Dan Hsu and Crispin Boyer of Electronic Gaming Monthly questioned why the Jaguar game had received such acclaim in the first place, opining that it was simply an outdated arcade game with some extra "glitter" which has no bearing on the essence of the game, and that the PlayStation version was essentially the same. Sushi-X felt that it paled against the Jaguar version, lacking the smoothness of the original release.[12] Gerstmann, Hsu, Boyer, and Sushi-X all also complained that the game suffers from poor control in the absence of a rotary controller like the original Tempest's.[13][12] However, a Next Generation critic gave it a positive review, opining that it retained the elements that made the Jaguar version great and that the enhancements were strong enough to make it fresh.[14]

Reviewing the Saturn version, Paul Glancey of Sega Saturn Magazine recalled the impact of the game's original release on the Jaguar: "... Jeff Minter had pepped up the gameplay with a barrage of eye-warping pixel explosions, swirling, smearing colour effects and a 'banging' ravey soundtrack. ... Turn down the lights, turn up the colour, run the sound through your hi-fi then jam up the bass and the volume and you could enjoy a gaming experience so hypnotic as to be almost mind-altering." He concluded that the Saturn port, though slightly inferior to the Jaguar original, effectively recreated this experience for Saturn owners.[15]


VM Labs licensed Tempest for their Nuon DVD system and hired Jeff Minter to produce the sequel Tempest 3000. Minter also produced the unofficial "inspired by" follow ups Space Giraffe and TxK on the Sony PlayStation Vita.[21]

Also, an unofficial clone of "Tempest 2000" named Cyclone 2000 had been launched for Android devices by NoCrew Mobile.[22]

In August 2017 another sequel, Tempest 4000, was announced.[23]


  1. ^ a b 'Llamasoft And The Space Giraffe' Google Tech Talk (20min 10sec)
  2. ^ a b "Tempest 2000". GamePro. No. 68. IDG. May 1994. p. 35. 
  3. ^ a b c "Review Crew: Tempest 2000". Electronic Gaming Monthly. No. 57. Sendai Publishing. April 1994. p. 34. 
  4. ^ "Preview: Tempest 2000". Sega Saturn Magazine. No. 15. Emap International Limited. January 1997. pp. 22–23. 
  5. ^ "Tempest 2000: Make Them Eat Electric Death". Electronic Gaming Monthly. No. 88. Ziff Davis. November 1996. p. 200. 
  6. ^
  7. ^ [1] Atari Tempest 2000 soundtrack sleeve
  8. ^ MobyGames entry for Tempest 2000
  9. ^ Sleeve for Tempest 2000 Soundtrack' music CD
  10. ^ article on Tempest 2000
  11. ^ Atari Jaguar CD box
  12. ^ a b c "Review Crew: Tempest X". Electronic Gaming Monthly. No. 90. Ziff Davis. January 1997. p. 68. 
  13. ^ a b c Gerstmann, Jeff (December 1, 1996). "Tempest X3 Review". GameSpot. Retrieved 19 December 2017. 
  14. ^ a b "Tempest X". Next Generation. No. 24. Imagine Media. December 1996. p. 262. 
  15. ^ a b Glancey, Paul (February 1997). "Review: Tempest 2000". Sega Saturn Magazine. No. 16. Emap International Limited. pp. 66–67. 
  16. ^ Halverson, Dave (1994). "Diehard GameFan Magazine". 2 (4). 
  17. ^ "Atari: From Boom to Bust and Back Again". Next Generation. No. 4. Imagine Media. April 1995. p. 40. 
  18. ^ "Atari Jaguar Lifetime Sales". Beta Phase Games. Retrieved 27 January 2018. 
  19. ^ "Electronic Gaming Monthly's Buyer's Guide". 1995. 
  20. ^ "Quick Hits: Tempest". GamePro. No. 101. IDG. February 1997. p. 74. 
  21. ^ TxK, Jeff Minter's remake of Tempest 2000, on PS Vita this year | Joystiq
  22. ^
  23. ^ Yin-Poole, Wesley (8 August 2017). "Tempest 4000 is real, Jeff Minter is developing it and Atari is publishing it". Eurogamer. Retrieved 16 September 2017. 

External linksEdit