Jeff Minter and Atari kiss and make up, Tempest 4000 is on the way

I pumped a lot of quarters into Tempest, back in the days when that was how you played videogames. I never got to be very good at it, but I kept at it anyway because it was really quite an amazing game. A remake came around in 1994 called Tempest 2000, developed by Jeff Minter, followed by another Minter-made version in 2000 entitled—you might notice a pattern here—Tempest 3000. In case there was any doubt that Minter is a Tempest fan, he thereafter released the Tempest-like Space Giraffe in 2007, and TxK in 2014. And that's where the trouble began. 

A planned release of TxK on the PC (it was originally made for the PS Vita) was canned because Atari accused the game of violating its copyright on Tempest 2000—a game Minter created. Hard words were spoken ("The last thing I really wanted was for Llamasoft [his studio] to be associated with the undead Atari responsible for turning Star Raiders into a fucking slot machine," he wrote at the time) but that was, for all intents and purposes, the end of it. We never got TxK, and he moved on to other things

Given that history, and the fact that Atari hasn't changed much since then, it's a little surprising that Minter is coming back to develop Tempest 4000. But that's how it is: The "legendary game designer" is heading up development of the new game, which "remains faithful to the original fast-paced gameplay while adding exciting new features and gorgeous graphics for audiences on the most popular contemporary platforms." 

"At the end of the day, videogamers always win," Minter said. "I am very happy to work with Atari again to bring a long-awaited sequel of Tempest to our legion of fans and a new generation of gamers worldwide." 

Tempest 4000, like the 3999 Tempests before it, will put players in control of the Claw, "a powerful spacecraft equipped to destroy deadly creatures and other obstructions with rapid-fire shots on vibrant geometric prisms." (I had no idea it was called the Claw.) You spin back and forth or all around the game board, shooting down at the things rushing up at you in an effort to eliminate them all before they reach your end and ruin your day. The updated version will feature three modes—Standard, Pure, and Endurance—and 100 levels, with 4K resolution support, a "retro techno soundtrack," and online leaderboards.   

Pricing and a release date haven't been set, but Atari said it's "coming soon." For a quicker fix, the original Tempest is available on Steam as part of the $10 Atari Vault

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.