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The 80’s was known as the golden era of arcade games. This is because it was during this time that arcade games were released. Uncountable games were released; many of them were so successful that they are still being played all over the world.

Tempest® is an arcade game released in 1981 by Atari Inc. The game is also notable for being the first video game with a selectable level of difficulty (determined by the initial starting level). The game is a “tube shooter”—a type of shoot ‘em up where the environment is fixed and viewed from a three-dimensional perspective.

The Gameplay

The object of Tempest is to survive as long as possible and score as many points as possible by clearing the screen of enemies that have landed on the playing field. The game takes place in a closed tube or open field which is viewed from one end and is divided into a dozen or more segments. The player controls a claw-shaped spaceship that crawls along the near edge of the playfield, moving from segment to segment. This spaceship can shoot down the tube, destroying any enemies within the same segment.

Enemies swirl around at the far end of the playfield, then enter the playfield and move toward the player. The player loses a ship when an enemy comes into contact with the ship, shoots it or otherwise destroys it, or if the ship hits a spike while warping. If an adequate point threshold is reached, the player can earn a new ship.


The spaceship is equipped with a Superzapper, which destroys all enemies currently on the playfield once per level.

Difficulty Levels

When all enemies in a level are destroyed or reach the near end of the playfield, the player “warps” to the next level by traveling down the playfield. The game consists of sixteen screens with unique geometric shapes. When all sixteen screens have been played, the sequence repeats with a different color scheme and a higher difficulty level. The game is over when the enemies destroy all of the player’s ships or if the player loses all the lives.

Interface and Control

Just use a control button to shoot at the enemies.

Tempest® is an innovative game. Its vector graphics and easy gameplay make it a very addictive game.

Tempest® © 1981 Atari Interactive, Inc. ©2011 Atari and the Atari logo are registered trademarks of Atari Interactive, Inc. All rights reserved. Used under license.