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Tempo [Sega 32X] – Review

Tempo

Regarded as one of the better or more desirable games for the Sega 32X, Tempo is a solid 2D platformer with great audio/visual qualities. It was developed by Red Entertainment and published by Sega in 1995 and having completed it myself, I’d put it on top of the list of 32X games. That wasn’t the case when I first started it as I was off put by the animation priority the player character had. But, with time to acclimate to the gameplay I wound up having an enjoyable time.

Tempo was visually interesting. I'd often spend a minute admiring the background before moving on.
Tempo was visually interesting. I’d often spend a minute admiring the background before moving on.

Almost immediately, the stellar audio/visual qualities of Tempo are on display. The game opens with a period, Saturday morning cartoon-style hip-hop song about the eponymous Tempo and it ushered in a wave of nostalgia for that time in my life – childhood. The game has strong musical overtones and accordingly each stage features, at the very least, a rocking accompaniment. One stage in particular appears to take place in a boom box and features many of the mechanisms one would suspect to see; only now they operate as platforming obstacles.

Visually, the stages are a wonder to behold. The level design isn’t particularly noteworthy other than the fact that the stages aren’t simply “scroll to the right” affairs. The paths are generally linear, but they’re winding. For me, this was something fresh and sometimes confusing. To someone who’s played the likes of The Lion King or other period Disney platformers, this might be old hat. Again though, visually, the stages are a wonder to behold. The foregrounds are detailed and well rendered but the backgrounds are something else. Featuring pseudo 3D objects and oscillating sprites, many are right on the edge of being a music visualizer!

Tempo had a dance partner in Katy. Her moves were lethal.
Tempo had a dance partner in Katy. Her moves were lethal.

Like the stage design, the game design isn’t too astounding either. The overall objective of each stage is to navigate the numerous obstacles and enemies that make up the two or three sub-stages, confront a boss, and hopefully, succeed. Tempo’s main offensive maneuver is to jump on his enemies. He can throw musical notes at his foes to stun them, making that attack a little easier. Easier more so if the player stumbles upon one of the myriad power ups which could summon his dance partner or increase the projectile count of his musical notes. If Katy, his dance partner, is tagging along, she’ll attack stunned enemies for him.

Katy and the musical note power ups come in handy when it’s boss time. Although I was a little perplexed by the level design, it was the first boss that really dampened my opinion of Tempo. I thought it to be very hard with little time to learn my opponent’s formula. After a few attempts, I figured it out though and really began enjoying the game. The stages themselves were often quaint to get through with the bosses almost always providing the brunt of the challenge. This mostly resulted in spending lives to learn their formula, but towards the end, I also had to be very strategic and play defensively as the bosses were more likely to be aggressive.

One last comment regarding the gameplay: Tempo himself is given animation priority. What I mean by this (and I’m probably not attributing this concept perfectly to this game) is Tempo animates very, very well but moves very, very methodically; quite slowly in fact. This game is more Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine than Vanquish, if you know what I mean. I generally always prefer a faster, more responsive game but can appreciate what the developers were going for regardless of personal taste. In fact, it’s something I quickly got over and it wasn’t an issue beyond the first stage or two.

Some of the bosses appeared rendered in Donkey Kong Country fashion.
Some of the bosses appeared rendered in Donkey Kong Country fashion.

Tempo saw a turnaround of opinion from me. I was a little down on it after the first stage. The tough boss and animation priority weren’t selling me on the game. However, I was able to clearly tell that this game was a labor of love for the developers and they put a lot of effort into it. There were many redeeming qualities that helped me persevere and continue coming back to it stage after stage. At this point, I definitely put it at the top of the list of Sega 32X games. Not the hardest list to ascend, especially considering I’ve played half-dozen titles, but the word-of-mouth praise I’ve always heard for Tempo holds true; it’s definitely worth seeking out for 32X collectors.

Also, here’s one final plug for the let’s play I recorded of Tempo:

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In Between Posts, August 28, 2011

Well I finally posted my Grandia Xtreme review last week. Honestly I didn’t complete the game though. I made it to the boss before the final boss and it was crazy difficult, so I’m going to grind for a long time until I can over power the end bosses. I’ll focus on other games and try to play Grandia Xtreme every now and then; I’ll probably zone out with a podcast and grind some levels.

Besides that I posted two impressions for some demos. The first was Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine which was an okay third-person shooter. It’s worth noting that it’s my only foray into the Warhammer 40,000 universe. The other demo I played last week was Hamilton’s Great Adventure, which I thought was a stellar puzzle game.

I didn’t have a lot of time for video games last week; school took up the brunt of my time. I did play OutRun Online Arcade and I should post a review of that this week. My girlfriend and I resumed our game in The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventure and are making solid progress in that. I also picked up Pokemon HeartGold for the first time in a long time. I played an hour or two of that and took my PokeWalker with me to work for one day, and wound up sending it through the washer; as of now it doesn’t work.

I’ll post my review of OutRun Online Arcade this week, and maybe some demo impressions.

Oh, and I decided to start adding a score to my reviews. Grandia Xtreme is the first game to get a score.

Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine – Demo Impressions

Does anyone remember The Outfit? Relic developed that game too. I kind of liked it...

The tabletop game Warhammer 40,000 is a well known property when it comes to video game culture. I believe it has had a major impact on many games, and the property has spawned a few itself. But I have had no exposure with the property outside of reading previews and reviews for past Warhammer 40,000 games. But the demo for Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine just released for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 and I thought I’d try it out. It combines third-person shooting with brutal hack and slash gameplay and does so well, but it just wasn’t for me.

There were two missions to undertake in the Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine demo. The first was titled The Inquisitor. I fought a lot of orks in a battle-ridden industrial area as I made my way to a crane, and eventually to an elevator out of the area. There were a ton of enemies and I wasn’t sure if I should use melee attacks or fire my weapons. Using my melee attacks did a lot of damage, but I lost health very quickly and died a few times. On the other hand my weapons were fairly strong, but the orks advanced so fast it seemed like I was always walking or jumping backwards as I fought them.

The second mission was titled Battlements. I very quickly found a jet pack that my character equipped. With it I could launch myself into the air and then come crashing back to earth by doing a ground pound. If any enemies were immediately nearby they would explode in a gory mess, any stragglers that were close enough to be affected were stunned and easy prey; I could perform absolutely brutal executions on stunned enemies.

Orks always seemed to be lurking around the corner, in large groups no less.

Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine from the outset played like a very familiar game. In the wake of Gears of War, the third-person shooter genre has come to life. But there are many games that can’t compare and Space Marine is one of them. The characters had a great sense of weight. They were bulky and wore these huge suits of armor, and they moved like it, which is a great quality, but not for me. The design of the game is consistent with the Warhammer 40,000 universe: a blend of futuristic and industrial aesthetics, but it looks like many other video games and didn’t pique my interest. Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine seems like an adequate third-person action game, but it didn’t strike a chord with me. Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine is developed by Relic Entertainment and is being published by THQ, scheduled to release September 6, 2011 for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC.