Review of TxK for the Playstation Vita
Short review: Get this game.
Long review: Get this game NOW.
TxK is one of the best old-school arcade experiences I’ve ever played. TxK is a very simple & straightforward experience – as basically a remake of Tempest, you move along the edge of a geometric shape & shoot at other shapes as they come to get you – but from this simple setup, a very intense and enjoyable game has been crafted. At first, the stages are very simple – basic shapes with simple enemies that just slowly approach – but as you progress, the stage designs get more and more bizarre and craftier enemies appear (like enemies that periodically electrify the lane they’re in or cause the stage to spin out of control).
At its core, TxK has a great gameplay cycle of risk vs reward. The closer the enemies approach the edge of the stage, the easier it is to aim at them and defeat them, but also the easier it is to mess up and have them get you. The game is full of thrilling moments where you rush to the opposite end of the stage to defeat a group of enemies before they reach the edge and just barely get them in time. Or not.
One of the great things about TxK is just how fast paced and intense it is. None of the game’s stages are especially long (we’re talking maybe a minute or two max) and power-ups don’t carry over between stages so the game is one sprint after another. However, like all good arcade experiences, TxK is fair. Power-ups are plentiful (the AI drone being my favorite), the visuals are clear (a big improvement over the fun but much more experimental Tempest reimagining, Space Giraffe), and the game even gives you one get-out-of-jail-free card per stage in the form of a smart bomb. Unlike many shooters, TxK doesn’t punish the player for taking advantage of power-ups & special moves – in fact, you even gain extra points for each enemy you defeat with the smart bomb.
TxK was made for the Vita. The vector-style graphics are sharp on the Vita’s great screen and the bite-sized stages are perfect for on-the-go gaming, especially since the game allows you to restart at any stage you’ve reached with your best score & life total previously achieved on that stage. Or you can try and see how long you can hold out in the survival mode (which disables extra life pickups).
Sony has really been killing it with modern arcade experiences lately. Resogun (a re-imagining of Defender) was the best launch title on the PS4 and now TxK is one of the best games on the Vita. At only $10, it’s a no-brainer – buy TxK.