We’ve seen the popularity of some games in the video game medium die since the arcade days of the 80s and even into the 90s. One of those happens to be arcade shooters that crowned locals kings among men with their high scores on the leaderboards. With TxK, arcade shooters are brought back into a modern world, and they translate exceptionally well.
Those who have played classic shooters know that Jeff Minter, the creator of TxK, is a man to be trusted in this department. Minter created a remake of the classic shooter Tempest, and he continues to revive the genre with TxK by bringing ideas of new and old to present a melting pot of arcade shooter goodness.
TxK is fairly simple: you control your ship at the top of an assortment of shapes ranging from U’s, cones, quadrilaterals, and everything in-between. From here, you’ll be shooting down at enemies trying to climb their way up to you so they can pull you down to your death – or maybe they’ll just decide to shoot you if you can’t avoid it. Collecting upgrades will power up your ship and give you a slight edge over your enemies. You’ll find upgrades that give you an AI companion, faster shots, and even the ability to jump so you can avoid and shoot enemies that have made their way up to your level. These upgrades only last for each individual level, so getting as many upgrades as fast as you can is essential to not only racking up a high score, but to survive and beat the level.
Memories of seeing the bright, vibrant colors from arcade shooters in cabinets may have the sentimental edge in visuals, but the crisp pop found on the Vita’s OLED screen is too good to compete with. Without the chains of a story or setting, TxK paints with colors mostly unseen on Vita; electric pinks, neon greens, and every loud color in-between jumps right at you from the moment you press start.
Accompanying your quest for high scores is a thumping old-school techno soundtrack. It provides an excellent accompaniment that really intensifies each level by having fast-paced and bass heavy tracks. When floods of enemies pour in, the soundtrack really pushes not only catchy-ness, but feelings of anxiety when overwhelmed. This may sound like a bad thing, but it’s not at all. It makes every track intense, and especially intensifies the later levels which will really put your skills to the test.
While TxK’s appeal is hard to deny, it’s inability to adapt from the past is both its strength and its greatest weakness. While I enjoyed my time with TxK, it doesn’t offer any new, significant changes from games like Tempest 2000, and lives in the identity of a spiritual successor rather than a game of its own renown. There aren’t any extra modes, so you’re main draw after completing each level will most likely come from leaderboard chasing.
TxK is a wonderful comeback for old school arcade cabinet shooters, and it finds a welcome home on the indie-friendly Vita. It’s initial impression may not be impressive, but those who stick around are bound to be awarded by a symphony of electric colors that pop on the Vita’s OLED screen, fast, addictive shooting, and seriously awesome old-school techno. TxK may stick a little too close to its guns without attempting to break the mold, and some extra modes or new game elements would have been appreciated. TxK is a visual treat and brings a classic style of game to the modern era; however, this time you won’t have to shell out your life savings in quarters.
This review is based on a review copy of the game TxK created and distributed by Llamasoft.
- Abstract Visuals
- Classic Gameplay
- Little Change to Formula