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TxK Review

TxK is one of those rare titles where there is so much love for a programmer that he'll happily revisit his game every few years and manage to make it feel as fresh and new as if was a brand new title. TxK is another take on the often forgotten genre of tunnel shooters and is a followup to the arcade classic Tempest; a game that developer Jeff Minter has had close ties with for well over 20 years, tinkering with the format and finally gracing the Vita with TxK.

Back when many arcade machines were pushing pixel based visuals, Tempest went with the vector route, with worlds created by brightly coloured lines rather than not so tiny blocks. During the infancy of arcade gaming this was all they had to work with but they still created some gems, the more famous being of course Star Wars and Battlezone. But even though TxK is using an old visual tool do not let the simple line drawn graphics fool you as when things really start to get manic the screen becomes alive with more lights, strobes and colours than an old school rave. 

The basic gameplay has changed very little since inception back in the 1980's, your little yellow ship crawls along the surface edge, looking down a tunnel at the incoming ships that are all trying to get out. Your task is a simple one, navigate the lip of the tunnel and fire on those incoming ships. In all fairness this is just classic Space Invaders but with a different viewpoint but with TxK you also have powerups. With each new level you start your ship is stripped of all its special powers leaving you with just your limited firing laser and a once per level Supertapper smart bomb. To have any real chance of surviving the waves of enemies you need to collect as many powerups as possible to give you an edge; some offer extra lives or a score boost whilst others grant you a particle beam that allows faster and longer rate if fire.

The two main powerups that will make your mission a lot easier are the AI Drone and a jump. The jump is quite straight forward, allowing you to leap from the rim of the tunnel, letting you destroy eneies that made it past your defensive barrarge, however you do not gain any score in doing so. The AI Drone is a second ship that aides you in you battles, picking off enemies and also getting you out of plenty of sticky situations when things het a little too tense. 

With all of the flashing lights and pulsing lasers pinging all over the place what really makes this a thrilling experience is the soundtrack, full of pulsing 1990's inspired techno tracks that manage to keep your heartbeat racing during the enemy onslaught; the only peace given is the brief floating through space interlude that links each level.

TxK comes with three game modes and online leaderboards. Pure Mode, sees you start from level one and work your way through. You can also restart from a previously reached level, starting with the same lives you had on starting the level which is called Classic Mode. Finally you have the Survival Mode which is for the hardcore as one life is all you get.

TxK shows that even with an old graphical style you can still create a thrilling arcade experience, utilising on the old hooks that were more about getting a high score rather than unlocking certain achievements and has found the perfect home on the Vita.

Words by Ash Buchanan.

(Version Tested: PS Vita)


+ Superb soundtrack that really requires headphones.
+ Fast and frantic arcade shooter action.
+ The vector graphics look great on the Vita screen.


- The approach to classic visual may be off-putting to some.

Edited On 27 Feb, 2014

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