Tempest Elite Plus

Review and Video game play: Tempest Elite +, Megaoids, Venture 48K, Animal Keeper

Four carts Programmed by Peter J Meyer and Distributed through Video 61 / Atari Sales

These Video 61 released games are only available via purchase, and I know of no other legitimate or ill legitimate source to obtain these games roms.


Tempest Elite +
This is quite a game. Imagine playing Tempest 2000 for the Jaguar on the Atari 8bit XL and XE computers. The quality shines through. All of the power-ups and most of the music, as well as the play fields, and tube flying sequence are replicated just about as well as could be on any 8bit system. Peter had some graphic and sound help from Sal Esquivel and it shows. If anything bad is to be said about this game, it’s that I found it far too easy. In fact, that is a common problem with Peter’s games, but the playability shines through and eventually it does get very difficult. By the way, I need easy games because I’m old =). The cartridge looks great, and the instructions (like all Video 61/ Atari sales carts) are on a nice laminated 8×11 card. The box is only a clear clam shell, but I hear they are working to improve their packaging.

There are many control options to make he game more enjoyable. I used the plain old CX-40 joystick and it was a delight, but the option to use the Atari 2600 driving controllers makes this game a dream and quite possibly the definitive home version, beating out the PSX Tempest X and Jaguar Tempest 2000 for play-ability.
Score 9.5/10 – Buy it NOW!

The 8bits have a couple decent Asteroids games, but none that I would call a definitive version that blows away other 8-bit conversions. Megaoids is a quality game, with power ups and loads of enemy ordinance, rocks, and more quickly moving all over the XL/XE screen with nary a flicker to be found.

The Technical brilliance is undercut by 2 things: 1 the rocks looks a little odd, and it’s far too easy. Peter is an excellent programmer, but this game could use the soft touch of a pixel artist. Also, once you get the hang of of game, it’s far too easy to collect shields and keep playing for a long time. This is a good thing, but also can make the game get a little boring.

But, is the game fun, because that’s what counts? We’re not here to play tech demos, were here to play games. I had a blast playing Meagoids after I got the hang of it. One big problem for some people but maybe not for others is that your ship doesn’t thrust nearly as fast as I would like. It’s very sluggish and makes it difficult to thrust to get to power ups. But, some people play Asteroids but never thrusting, and this tactic will suit them fine in this version. Also, the game object move very fast. While I think this is done so show how well it was coded, I think a more subtle build-up would make the game easier to get into. I do love the reference to Blasteroids with the exit warp tunnel at the end of each level, and the ability to ship and shied hunt at the end of each level.

The cartridge label is not up to par with other companies, but the instructions (like all Video 61/ Atari sales carts) is on a nice laminated 8×11 card. The box is only a clear clam shell, but I hear they are working to improve their packaging.
Score: 7.5/10 – Still not the definite Asteroids game we deserve, but it could be with a little more polish, and some subtly game play ramping.

Venture 48K
Venture 48K is a cartridge that will play on any Atari computer, even a 400/800 as long as it is equipped with 48k. I didn’t play this much in the arcade, but a friend had a Colecovision and we played it a lot on that system. If you are looking for the definitive arcade port of this game, look no further. It is on par with the Coleco version, and has all of the levels from the arcade. This game can become very challenging, with one of the most difficult rooms on the first screen. It’s the diamond room and you will see in the video that I die constantly, but do finally make it through. The 2600 version seems to have more space to maneuver, but it doesn’t cost the game much to have a challenge in it.

The sounds an music in this game are spot on to the Coleco and arcade versions and really help create an excellent atmosphere.

The cartridge label is label is very nice and the instructions (like all Video 61/ Atari sales carts) is on a nice laminated 8×11 card. The box is only a clear clam shell, but I hear they are working to improve their packaging.

Score 8/10 – While Venture 48K is very well made, the game became very repetitive very quickly for me.

Animal Keeper
Animal Keeper is a conversion of the arcade game Zoo Keeper. You must control your character (on the first set of 4 screens) around a pen of animals who are constantly trying to get out. They do this by breaking away sections of the the interior wall until they make a break for it. Your job is to close up the pen by rebuilding it. You do this simply by running by it. There are power ups and trinkets to collect. If an animal escapes the pen you can jump over him/her and if you land on the animal while jumping, it will be put back in the pen. You can also get power ups that make you invincible for a short period and these allow you to simply run into the animals to put them back in the pen.

Every 5th screen is a simplified Donkey Kong style platform level where you must get to the top and save your girlfriend.

The controls and play ability are top notice, This is a FUN game, but also a little on the easy side. If I have any gripe, it’s the character animation. Some of the pixel art could be better and the recent 2600 version (albeit by a much larger team and costing just about the same when it arrives) looks a little better in places, especially the main character feet animation which is a little “crazy legs”, but adequate. There is not a lot of music in the game but what is there and the sound effects are well done.

Score: 8/10 – While this is not an arcade perfect port (and it isn’t intended to be), it is fun, and has a nice difficulty progression. Peter could use a Pixel artist for some of the graphics, but some look better than his other games. The Package is a little dire. The label for the cart is pretty simplistic, but the instructions are well done and come on two laminated cards. Again, there is no box to speak of, but I hear they are improving the aesthetics of their releases.

Original Video Content recorded by 8bitrocket Studios on an Atari 800XL with RCA connection to a Lenovo Laptop.

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