The Tempest X Replicade by New Wave Toys brings the Tempest arcade experience to your home. So crack open a Tab, put on some Duran Duran, and get your Tempest arcade fix!
What is Tempest?
Tempest was originally an arcade game developed by Atari in 1981 that had a number of video game firsts:
- One of the first arcade games to use Atari’s Color-QuadraScan vector display technology (gave the game an almost 3D laser look to the graphics)
- First game to allow players to start the game at an increased level of difficulty rather than having to start at a beginning level (a feature Atari called “SkillStep”)
- Tempest was also one of the first video games to feature a “progressive level design” such that the level designs would change as they got more challenging (rather than just having speed or rules make game play more difficult)
The basic setting of Tempest actually came from the game designer’s nightmare, in which he dreamed there were monsters crawling out of a hole in the ground. The video game has a space ship called a “blaster” that travels around the outside edge of varying vector shapes and the enemies enter the game from the center of that shape and make their way outward. The goal is for the player to maneuver and shoot the “blaster” ship and destroy the enemies before they destroy you. The game play becomes extremely fast-paced and challenging which made it very entertaining for people to watch someone else play the game in an arcade (the new and unique vector graphics didn’t hurt either).
What is the New Wave Toys Tempest X Replicade ?
The Tempest X Replicade is a 12” one sixth scale replica of the original Tempest arcade cabinet (more specifically the upright design as there were three different arcade designs). It is meant not only to look just like the original arcade game to be playable as well as it is running the original licensed game ROM from Atari. Below is a list of features:
- Plays the original Tempest arcade game
- Mini Rotary control with swappable spinner caps
- Wood cabinet construction
- Illuminated marquee & cabinet accents
- Amplified-Mono audio reproduction
- Die-cast metal coin door with storage compartment
- High resolution cabinet art reproduction on quality 3M vinyl overlays
- Non-volatile memory saves high scores
- Built-in rechargeable battery
- High resolution screen optimized for vector graphics
- PVC Trim-molding
- Limited edition
- Officially licensed by Atari
Tempest Technical Geekery
I had a few questions about the design trade offs that had to be made for this new modern but much smaller take on the 1981 Tempest arcade game, so I asked the designers at New Wave Toys a few questions:
GD: It looks like one of the biggest design challenges for the Tempest unit was the screen. How many different screen technologies did you consider and try out and what technology did you ultimately go with?
New Wave Toys: We tested over a dozen different screens trying to recreate Tempest’s legendary vector graphics as cleanly and crisply as possible without using a real vector monitor. We ended up using a 4” LCD 800*480, while the Centipede screen was recreated nicely using a 3.5” LCD 320*240. We further enhanced the vector graphics with software.
GD: I’m assuming based on its ability to stay in “attract” mode that there are no concerns about screen burn in.
New Wave Toys: Of course, the wide variety of graphics in attract mode helps avoid screen burn in, but our screen supplier has also assured us that burn in won’t be an issue.
GD: How does the mechanism for the spinner controller in your unit differ from the original mechanism in the vintage arcade units? There appears to be 24 “teeth” in your controller and the original had 70+ teeth in its spinner. Did you consider trying to replicate the exact design but just smaller or was that not possible? Very curious about how your designer approached the spinner.
New Wave Toys: We tried to develop a tiny 1/6th scale Rotary dial that free spins like the original Tempest dial, but it was just too small. We ended up designing a modular system, with a proper in scale cap that’s only suitable for display and a much larger cap with a built-in steel weight for game play.
GD: Spinner lag: there appears to be a small spinner lag where it takes a fraction of a second for the ship on the screen to respond. Is this intentional based on the controller design or is there a firmware adjustment coming to reduce this?
New Wave Toys: We call this Simulated Inertia. We tried to imitate the original Tempest rotary dial physics with software. A lot of people in the community like SI, but we’ve reviewed all feedback and SI is not ideal for everybody. We’re preparing a firmware update without SI for those who want it.
This is a “must have” for Tempest fans and honestly even for those of you that had never heard of Tempest until you read Ready Player One (see my “Games Of Ready Player One” article for more details). Arcade games of the 1980s had a totally different look and feel and the only way to really appreciate that is to actually experience the game play first hand. New Wave Toys lets you do that with smaller and much more affordable 12” scale version of the game. The attention to detail is impressive, complete with die-cast coin door that doubles as a place to store everything that comes with the machine:
- Arcade-accurate sixth-scale replica Tempest arcade machine
- Premium retail packaging
- Charge cable
- RepliCade mini arcade tokens
- Extra swappable Spinner Caps
- Owner’s manual
I was only six years-old when Tempest was in the arcades, so needless to say I don’t have any first-hand experience with the original controls. But that being said, the controls (even despite their smaller size) are sturdy and responsive and allow you to really enjoy playing even this smaller version of the original arcade game. The graphics are crisp and do a good job or “replicating” the original vector graphics technology with a more modern screen. And last but not least the sound is quite loud. When I first turned it on and started playing it everyone in the house could hear me! This is the perfect arcade unit to leave out and permanently powered and in “attract mode” so it is always ready for you to get your “Tempest fix.” I mean really, I think every geek needs an arcade game somewhere in their home or office. You also have to give New Wave Toys props for listening to the feedback and preparing a firmware update that will eliminate the Simulated Inertia. I have to say as I play more challenging stages in the game I do start to notice the Simulated Inertia more and more, so it will be good to have the option to turn that off if I wish. It shows that New Wave Toys is really serious about trying to make this the best Tempest arcade experience they can.
In addition to the game, the folks at New Wave Toys also sent me the “Insert Coin Key Chain.” This is a lighted die-cast quarter slot just like the ones that were used in arcade games except this is one you can attach your keys to and carry around in your pocket. Just make sure you wear a belt because this thing is sturdy!
The Tempest X Replicade is available now from New Wave Toys for $119.99 and they are a limited edition item (just 5000 units), so be sure to order yours right away before they are gone. The “Insert Coin Key Chain” is available separately for $20 (but is temporarily on sale for $14.99) also from the New Wave Toys website.
Disclaimer: The Tempest X Replicade and the “Insert Coin Key Chain” were provided to me from New Wave Toys for the purpose of this review. I tried to not have my fanboy excitement taint my approach to this review (too much).