The Totally Unofficial


Home Page!

N.B.  This is a page I started but never finished, and has been put up solely so that Wikipedians may plunder it for the Wikipedia Tempest page.  RJB 2007-06-12

Latest (and only expected) version 16 February 1999


There are probably 2001 Tempest pages already (well, it is a space oddesey of sorts!), but I’ve decide to chip in my tuppenceworth...

So, what is Tempest?

Released by Atari in 1980, this is a very abstract game, although it has the usual videogame scenario — it’s you against them, and the only way to ensure your survival is to prevent theirs, so if it moves shoot it, and if it doesn’t move shoot it anyway...

You have three controls: a fire button (the left [CTRL] key if you’re playing Tempest on MAME), a superzapper button (the [Alt] key — the left one if yours is a US keyboard with two [Alt] keys, rather than a non-US keyboard with [Alt] and [AltGr]), and a knob (simulated with the left and right arrow keys).  The knob moves your player around the top of the playfield (which is a plain on levels 11, 27, 43 etc., but is otherwise a trough or tube); fire does what you’d expect; superzap kills all nasties when first pressed, but if used a second time only kills what the program judges to be the most dangerous nasty, and thereafter doesn’t work until you move to the next level.  Hint:  to fire continuously, hold the fire button/key down — this saves considerable wear on your hardware (which otherwise may not be so hardwearing)...

As shown below, there are 16 playfield shapes, and they are organised in waves of 16 of the same colour.  (N.B. these are the shapes from the classic version of the machine — there is at least one hacked version with different, harder, shapes.)  Thus, level 1 is a blue circle; level 17 is a red circle; level 33 is a yellow circle; and so on.  When you start a game, you can start on the last odd-numbered level you finished (in wave 1; the rule is different in higher waves), or level 9, whichever is the higher; unless the machine is set to free play, in which case you can start on level 81 if you so choose!  (Practice on the lower levels first!)


Tempest offers 16 playfields... six waves:

Note 1:  the fifth wave has invisible playfields!  Lanes only become visible when the player is standing in them, when pulsed by a pulsar, when lit by the rainbow of an extra life or of a superzapper discharge, or when there is a spike through them (revealing the presence of the lane, but not the lane itself).
Note 2:  level 96, the end of the sixth wave, is the last unique level.  If you reach level 97, you'll find it to be level 81 again...
Note 3:  level 98 is the last one which follows the pattern; all following levels are numbered 99, and are of random shapes.

Your enemies!

(N.B. these are shown in the colours of wave 3, the first on which they are all present.)

Flipper1 Shoot it.
Flipper Tanker3  
Fuseball Tanker33  
Pulsar Tanker41  
Item colours
123456 and up
Note 4:  fuseballs are always the same mix of five colours.
Note 5:  pulsars pulsate between the given colour and white.
Note 6:  the tanker colour given is the main one, since tankers all look the same at a distance.
Monster table (temporary):
MonsterWhen appears
Flipper Tanker3
Fuseball Tanker33
Pulsar Tanker41