My brother and I did not have this game back in the day. But I think I would have really liked it. It’s a very fun game. Although none of the “official” writeups (BSR site, interviews I’ve read, etc.) talk about this game being inspired by or a clone of Tempest, it sure looks like a Tempest-ish game to me. The color scheme alone puts me into a Tempest-y mood.
It falls into the category of vertical scrolling left-to-right shooters (Space Invaders, et al). The action is pretty fast paced and the “plot” of the game is decent enough, I guess: you’re fighting off invaders along a protection grid. It isn’t quite as generic as just non-descript fighter shooting non-descript enemy fighters.
The grid movement really does a decent job of fooling the eye that you’re moving forward. When each level is beginning the effect of speed changing is pretty good. It reminds me somewhat of the 3D effects in Star Strike.
The game has enough different enemies to throw at you to keep it from getting too boring. And it is broken up into “waves” of sorts (you’re fighting in different sectors) with a sentinel craft that you can hit between waves — very reminiscent of the mother ship from Space Invaders.
The responsiveness to the controls is crisp and exact. I give this game an arcadability rating of 5.
The controls mapping for this game is very simple. Just left and right cursor mapping to E and W on the INTV controller and two arcade buttons mapped to one set of top and bottom side action buttons. The arcade.kdb configuration is fine for this game.
How does it compare to the original arcade game?
This game seems to be a pretty decent attempt at a Tempest clone. And it works pretty well. It lacks the number of enemies that Tempest throws at you, but the action is pretty fast paced (a bit of a rarity among Intellivision titles).
It doesn’t have the concept of a “top” of the well like Tempest does, so there aren’t any baddies that reach the top and march around the edge to attack you. That makes the game more of a standard shooter than Tempest.
But you have three torpedos that remind me of the super zapper from Tempest. They don’t blow up everything on the screen, they’re just unblockable. I think the parallels are strong enough to call this “Tempest on the Intellivision.”