When Jeff Minter announces a game for any console you take notice. The man has been a legend in gaming for a long time now. Whether you have liked all is output is another thing, but he sure knows how to make games and has a long history of doing so. So when he announced his latest game was for PS Vita, excitement grew, when it was known to be a sequel of sorts to Tempest, those levels went through the roof.
TxK is pure score attack, with simple mechanics that make the game easy to pick up, but with such depth that it becomes very difficult to master. It has that perfect blend of ideas that make it nigh on impossible to put down.
The basics of the game see you control a vessel and you must shoot the enemies that come towards you on the screen, with each level being set on a different geometric shape. You start a level, destroy all in front of you and move on to the next. You move left or right and shoot, shoot, shoot. It really is that simple.
However even after spending a few moments with the game, you realise it that much deeper and there are many nuances that make this an incredible experience. Clearing enemies produce powerups, collect these to get points bonuses or ability upgrades, such as being able to jump, or more effective bullets, even an AI Droid that will help you mop up your foes.
The power ups you get though will only be available for that level you collected them on, each new level resets your abilities to the beginning again. The same goes for a single use bomb. You have one of these for each level and unlike other games where you are almost punished for using an all clearing weapon, this rewards you by giving double points, so make sure it is used in each and every level, ideally when the action is at its most frantic.
Each of the enemies have a different ability and whereas some feel easy to get rid of, others can be harder to hit, some will attack back, that sort of thing. Again what really works here is how each level is different, you can move from one level where you feel under tons of pressure, to another where you are the one in control. it means that even if you get into a groove, you never really get into an auto-pilot mode.
There are bonuses to be had between levels also, where you move through rings to collect bonus points, however, should you collect enough triangles from in level powerups, you can enter a bonus level which is also just joyful to see and do. It adds to a game that is both relaxing and frantic at the same time.
Jeff Minter’s games tend to let the gameplay speak for itself and it is no exception here. The visuals are very basic looking, but it works for the mechanics and in it’s basic wireframe look, it manages to look beautiful, with colour taking over and infecting your eyes in the best way possible. If it had gone for some kind of amazing art style, it just wouldn’t work, the visuals along with a stunning soundtrack take you into gaming nirvana.
With a pair of headphones, you will lose yourself to this experience, as you go back time and time again to better yourself, yet in truth you have become hypnotized by the amazing blend of visual and audio wonder, mixed with gameplay that just teases you to keep going.
Being a score attack game first and foremost, there are leaderboards, both global and local, with a mix of overall and friend based boards, covering the various game options of Pure, Classic and Survival. The one issue there is here, isn’t to do with the game itself, but more a Sony wide problem, where the friend limit increase for PS4 seems to affect all other games. You will notice that friends you know have played, will not show on your friends leaderboard at all time, which can become frustrating, however as said, that isn’t a problem created by this game.
We usually write a paragraph to wrap things up, but we just want to go back and play more…