Retro gaming fans take note: mobile developer Rude Scotsman has released an iPhone port of their handheld titleVector Blaster [App Store] through the iTunes App Store.

Vector Blaster is basically Tempest for the iPhone.  And if you don't know Tempest, then you're missing out.

Well, it's Tempest, with a few notable differences.  Tempest is a 3D-ish "tube shooter" where various enemies jump onto a segmented tube and ride the segments out towards the rim, which is the domain of the player's claw-shaped ship.  Tempest's tubes of various shapes (one per level) are stationary and the player's ship runs about it by way of a rotary control.  In Vector Blaster, the ship is stationary and a touchscreen virtual rotary controller drives the rotation of the level around it.  It feels pretty nice--a bit more "active" than Tempest.

In Vector Blaster, enemies as well as bonus items (energy, dual shots, etc.) ride the borders of the segments up to the rim (not the middle, as in Tempest).  If an enemy makes it out to the rim, a unit of energy is depleted from the player's ship and a section of the rim is temporarily destroyed, limiting the ship's travel.  When all energy units are drained, a life is lost.  The overall goal is simple: destory everything and move to the next level. It's basic, it's fast paced, and it's fun.

The current v1.0 release, as the YouTube video demonstrates, has a glitch that surfaces from time to time between levels where, without any user prompting, the game pauses, requiring a tap to resume.  Very likely this will be addressed in a near-term update.  [ UPDATE: It turns out this is not a bug at all, but intended behavior.  The Rude Scotsman himself informed us, "What happens is the game automatically pauses when you stop touching the screen. When my friends and I played the game during testing, we always kept our left thumb on the screen, so the auto-inactivity pause thing was never an issue for us. What I’m seeing now is when some people play the game they release their thumbs for a while and the game pauses."  Given the confusion, the Scotsman intends to change the behavior in an upcoming update. ]

Vector Blaster has a strong retro feel thanks to the simplistic graphics and original soundtrack that sounds as if it were generated on an 8-bit Commodore 64 (which retro fans will enjoy but other gamers may find less than ideal).

Granted, I'm very likely a bigger Tempest fan than the average iPhone gamer, but I don't feel my judgement is clouded when I say that Vector Blaster, a $2.99 download from the App Store, is solid shooter fun.  If that sounds appealing despite the lack of lavish graphics, I recommend giving it a go.

Game Details
Name: Vector Blaster (v1.0) Price: $2.99 [Buy]
Developer: Rude Scotsman
Size: 0.6 MB
Vector Blaster is basically Tempest for the iPhone.  Fast action, simple graphics, basic gameplay.  If that sort of retro arcade shooter action is your thing, then Vector Blaster is likely worth a look.

TouchArcade Rating

  • brian

    looks lovely and smooth... OMG! just imagine star wars the vector version from the arcdae on this. Now that would really make up for the abismal force unleashed.

  • http://- brian

    looks lovely and smooth... OMG! just imagine star wars the vector version from the arcdae on this. Now that would really make up for the abismal force unleashed.

  • Skip

    Good to see a Tempest game on the iPhone, although I'm not sure I'll buy this one. Maybe I'll wait to see if it's developed further and the bugs are removed.

    Nice to see another Jeff Minter fan. I've been playing his games for 20+ years and bought a 360 almost solely for Space Giraffe and Neon (never mind the Jag I paid way too much money for back in the day for Tempest 2000...which I still play :) ).

  • Skip

    Good to see a Tempest game on the iPhone, although I'm not sure I'll buy this one. Maybe I'll wait to see if it's developed further and the bugs are removed.

    Nice to see another Jeff Minter fan. I've been playing his games for 20+ years and bought a 360 almost solely for Space Giraffe and Neon (never mind the Jag I paid way too much money for back in the day for Tempest 2000...which I still play :) ).

  • http://www.blakespot.com blakespot

    @skip: Ah, well you need the rotary controller to complete your T2K experience. :-) This one works pretty well for Tempest X on the PSX (but the orig T2K beats it hands down).

  • http://www.blakespot.com blakespot

    @skip: Ah, well you need the rotary controller to complete your T2K experience. :-) This one works pretty well for Tempest X on the PSX (but the orig T2K beats it hands down).

  • Skip

    I built my own Jaguar controller out of arcade parts. It's a massive beast. The only bad thing is the rotary is made out of an old Atari 2600 driving controller, so not the best spinning experience.

    Now that I think about it, I have 2 PC versions of T2K, the PSX version of Tempest X and the Jag version of course, as well as Space Giraffe and probably every Llamasoft release on the Atari ST and Commodore 64. I probably should get this version of Tempest too, just to let Jeff know I think he could make a better version (I've been not too subtly suggesting on his forum that he consider iPhone development ;) ).

  • Skip

    I built my own Jaguar controller out of arcade parts. It's a massive beast. The only bad thing is the rotary is made out of an old Atari 2600 driving controller, so not the best spinning experience.

    Now that I think about it, I have 2 PC versions of T2K, the PSX version of Tempest X and the Jag version of course, as well as Space Giraffe and probably every Llamasoft release on the Atari ST and Commodore 64. I probably should get this version of Tempest too, just to let Jeff know I think he could make a better version (I've been not too subtly suggesting on his forum that he consider iPhone development ;) ).

  • SteveJ

    A port of Tempest 2000 would be a very nice thing, but I'm a little iffy on the slide to rotate control scheme used in this game. The Asteroids game Dreiget does that in it's landscape view and while initially it seems cool, in practice it proves not to work very well because you end up near the top or bottom and then have to lift and move toward the middle all the time, which makes movement awkward. I see that same thing happening in the video of this game. Not that Dreiget is a good example of anything, so perhaps it works better here? I might risk the $3 on it, but I'd rather they had a demo so I could see how well the game controls before buying. If it works well they shouldn't have a problem with releasing a demo, so that there isn't a demo makes me wonder how well the controls really work.

  • SteveJ

    A port of Tempest 2000 would be a very nice thing, but I'm a little iffy on the slide to rotate control scheme used in this game. The Asteroids game Dreiget does that in it's landscape view and while initially it seems cool, in practice it proves not to work very well because you end up near the top or bottom and then have to lift and move toward the middle all the time, which makes movement awkward. I see that same thing happening in the video of this game. Not that Dreiget is a good example of anything, so perhaps it works better here? I might risk the $3 on it, but I'd rather they had a demo so I could see how well the game controls before buying. If it works well they shouldn't have a problem with releasing a demo, so that there isn't a demo makes me wonder how well the controls really work.

  • http://www.GalleyTech.com/ Galley

    Pew! Pew! Pew!

  • http://www.GalleyTech.com/ Galley

    Pew! Pew! Pew!

  • Fat Phil

    Looks good, and I love Tempest big-time, but I'm slightly disturbed that Apple let what is essentially a straight rip-off of Tempest through the door. Fair enough Jeff Minter's hippy enough to probably see it as flattery, but that's beside the point.

    Get it while you can I guess, before Atari step in and it disappears...

  • Fat Phil

    Looks good, and I love Tempest big-time, but I'm slightly disturbed that Apple let what is essentially a straight rip-off of Tempest through the door. Fair enough Jeff Minter's hippy enough to probably see it as flattery, but that's beside the point.

    Get it while you can I guess, before Atari step in and it disappears...

  • http://www.blakespot.com blakespot

    @Fat Phil: Actually, Tempest was written by David Theurer and was released in 1980. Theurer also created Missile Command and I, Robot. But, indeed, all three were released by Atari Games.

    Minter did Tempest 2000, Tempest 3000, and the Tempest-like Space Giraffe for the XBOX 360. Playing Space Giraffe is kind of like having a stroke. :-) I wish Minter would develop something for the iPhone. I'm not sure if his contract with Microsoft would prevent such a thing or not. (He also developed the XBOX 360's Light Synth music visualizer, which is based on the visualization technology he developed for the Nuon, which is used in part in Tempest 3000's meet-the-characters screen which I've captured in video here.)

  • http://www.blakespot.com blakespot

    @Fat Phil: Actually, Tempest was written by David Theurer and was released in 1980. Theurer also created Missile Command and I, Robot. But, indeed, all three were released by Atari Games.

    Minter did Tempest 2000, Tempest 3000, and the Tempest-like Space Giraffe for the XBOX 360. Playing Space Giraffe is kind of like having a stroke. :-) I wish Minter would develop something for the iPhone. I'm not sure if his contract with Microsoft would prevent such a thing or not. (He also developed the XBOX 360's Light Synth music visualizer, which is based on the visualization technology he developed for the Nuon, which is used in part in Tempest 3000's meet-the-characters screen which I've captured in video here.)

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  • Fat Phil

    Gah! Should've realised that (History of Videogames sitting in my bookcase ... dusty, as you can guess)/

    Oh now you're bringing back memories... whatever happened to light synths? It's taken Apple forever just to update iTunes' synth. It's nice, but it just isn't the *same*.... That said I haven't seen the 360 synth.

    Space Giraffe... oh boy. I nearly had a stroke myself the first time I played that...think I picked up a mild case of epilepsy at least.

  • Fat Phil

    Gah! Should've realised that (History of Videogames sitting in my bookcase ... dusty, as you can guess)/

    Oh now you're bringing back memories... whatever happened to light synths? It's taken Apple forever just to update iTunes' synth. It's nice, but it just isn't the *same*.... That said I haven't seen the 360 synth.

    Space Giraffe... oh boy. I nearly had a stroke myself the first time I played that...think I picked up a mild case of epilepsy at least.

  • http://www.blakespot.com blakespot

    @Fat Phil: Here's a video of Neon (X360's Light Synth visualizer by Minter) in action.

    And for those wondering what this Space Giraffe is, have a look. But remember, as Minter emphatically reminds players: Space Giraffe is not Tempest.

    ( Our giraffe is in another castle )

    Here's the man in action.

  • http://www.blakespot.com blakespot

    @Fat Phil: Here's a video of Neon (X360's Light Synth visualizer by Minter) in action.

    And for those wondering what this Space Giraffe is, have a look. But remember, as Minter emphatically reminds players: Space Giraffe is not Tempest.

    ( Our giraffe is in another castle )

    Here's the man in action.

  • Barry Ward

    Has anyone here played Torus Trooper, a free game for the Mac/PC? Tempest reminds me of an early version of that game, and it makes me wish Torus Trooper would be released on the iPhone/Touch.
    As for Tempest, it looks a bit TOO retro for me.

  • Barry Ward

    Has anyone here played Torus Trooper, a free game for the Mac/PC? Tempest reminds me of an early version of that game, and it makes me wish Torus Trooper would be released on the iPhone/Touch.
    As for Tempest, it looks a bit TOO retro for me.

  • http://www.rustyjaw.com Rustyjaw

    I'm also a HUGE arcade Tempest fan. This game looks interesting, although the controls look like a compromise at best...at least they are analog.

    I am skeptical of Tempest remakes because I've always thought that the original was so brilliant in large part because of the 'pulse' of the game. What I mean is that Tempest had a very devious collection of enemies that each had very specific and mostly predictable behaviors. But as the game progressed, and more and more kinds of enemies were up against you simultaneously, the patterns of overlapping behaviors meshed perfectly, constantly challenging the ability of the player to attend to many things at once and paying off for those who could manage it.

    A great Tempest player, in the upper levels of the game (say above 30 or so) would l most look like some kind of psychic, able to know what was going to happen milliseconds before it would. If you could tune into the various patterns unfolding in the game you could react precisely before things would happen. I had this experience a few times while playing, unfortunately they were pretty rare though.

    Anyway, that's why I loved the original and why most of the clones don't work for me so well.

  • http://www.rustyjaw.com Rustyjaw

    I'm also a HUGE arcade Tempest fan. This game looks interesting, although the controls look like a compromise at best...at least they are analog.

    I am skeptical of Tempest remakes because I've always thought that the original was so brilliant in large part because of the 'pulse' of the game. What I mean is that Tempest had a very devious collection of enemies that each had very specific and mostly predictable behaviors. But as the game progressed, and more and more kinds of enemies were up against you simultaneously, the patterns of overlapping behaviors meshed perfectly, constantly challenging the ability of the player to attend to many things at once and paying off for those who could manage it.

    A great Tempest player, in the upper levels of the game (say above 30 or so) would l most look like some kind of psychic, able to know what was going to happen milliseconds before it would. If you could tune into the various patterns unfolding in the game you could react precisely before things would happen. I had this experience a few times while playing, unfortunately they were pretty rare though.

    Anyway, that's why I loved the original and why most of the clones don't work for me so well.

  • Jeff

    I'd like to see settings added for difficulty, & volume options for the music & sound FX.

  • Jeff

    I'd like to see settings added for difficulty, & volume options for the music & sound FX.

  • Ed

    not going to last a week depending on those atari's lawsuits........ (not bashing the game, this is my rant about stupid "big" developers trying to pull good games from mere students - ahem, tris - for nothing...)

  • Ed

    not going to last a week depending on those atari's lawsuits........ (not bashing the game, this is my rant about stupid "big" developers trying to pull good games from mere students - ahem, tris - for nothing...)

  • http://www.blakespot.com blakespot

    @Ed: I hope not, but just in case, grab it now.

    I love this game. And the music is retroawesome.

  • http://www.blakespot.com blakespot

    @Ed: I hope not, but just in case, grab it now.

    I love this game. And the music is retroawesome.

  • http://rudescotsman.com Rude Scotsman

    Hey guys, thanks for the review and the (mostly) positive comments. :) I just wanted to respond to the "pause bug" mentioned in the article. Although it's technically not a "bug" (it works exactly as designed) I've been getting a lot of feedback that it irritates people and I'll update the behavior in the next release.

    What happens is the game automatically pauses when you stop touching the screen. When my friends and I played the game during testing, we always kept our left thumb on the screen, so the auto-inactivity pause thing was never an issue for us. What I'm seeing now is when some people play the game they release their thumbs for a while and the game pauses.

    Sorry it's an annoyance. :-( If anyone has any suggestions for how to make it better please shoot me an email.. http://rudescotsman.com/contact.php

  • http://rudescotsman.com Rude Scotsman

    Hey guys, thanks for the review and the (mostly) positive comments. :) I just wanted to respond to the "pause bug" mentioned in the article. Although it's technically not a "bug" (it works exactly as designed) I've been getting a lot of feedback that it irritates people and I'll update the behavior in the next release.

    What happens is the game automatically pauses when you stop touching the screen. When my friends and I played the game during testing, we always kept our left thumb on the screen, so the auto-inactivity pause thing was never an issue for us. What I'm seeing now is when some people play the game they release their thumbs for a while and the game pauses.

    Sorry it's an annoyance. :-( If anyone has any suggestions for how to make it better please shoot me an email.. http://rudescotsman.com/contact.php

  • TSP

    Totally loving the game and the music in particular. I would love to have different difficulty levels. Pause/resume or level select as the first levels quickly become to easy.

    Thanks again for a great game, more retro stuff with great sid-music please!!!

  • TSP

    Totally loving the game and the music in particular. I would love to have different difficulty levels. Pause/resume or level select as the first levels quickly become to easy.

    Thanks again for a great game, more retro stuff with great sid-music please!!!

  • http://www.blakespot.com blakespot

    @Rude Scotsman: Thanks for that. I've updated the review to reflect what you've explained re: the pause "bug."

    I'd be curious how the soundtrack was generated. Would you share?

  • http://www.blakespot.com blakespot

    @Rude Scotsman: Thanks for that. I've updated the review to reflect what you've explained re: the pause "bug."

    I'd be curious how the soundtrack was generated. Would you share?

  • http://www.rustyjaw.com Rustyjaw

    OK, I bought it and I like it. I wouldn't call it a Tempest clone as much as a game strongly inspired by Tempest, which is fine. It looks great, it's fast. The controls take a bit of getting used to. One thing I have a hard time with is that on many levels you can't make a complete sweep through (or one cycle around for continuous shapes) a shape in one swipe. It may be that I'm not starting my swipe all the way at the outermost edge of the screen, but my thumb doesn't comfortably reach that far.

    I'd love to see a sensitivity setting for the controls in an update.

    Overall though, it's an enjoyable game, fun for the retro fans like myself.

  • http://www.rustyjaw.com Rustyjaw

    OK, I bought it and I like it. I wouldn't call it a Tempest clone as much as a game strongly inspired by Tempest, which is fine. It looks great, it's fast. The controls take a bit of getting used to. One thing I have a hard time with is that on many levels you can't make a complete sweep through (or one cycle around for continuous shapes) a shape in one swipe. It may be that I'm not starting my swipe all the way at the outermost edge of the screen, but my thumb doesn't comfortably reach that far.

    I'd love to see a sensitivity setting for the controls in an update.

    Overall though, it's an enjoyable game, fun for the retro fans like myself.

  • http://www.blakespot.com blakespot

    Still loving this game.

  • http://www.blakespot.com blakespot

    Still loving this game.

  • http://rudescotsman.com Rude Scotsman

    Another video! :)

  • http://rudescotsman.com Rude Scotsman

    The comments moderator ate my link! :) Second try..

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4MvZgNnBOkw

  • http://rudescotsman.com Rude Scotsman

    Another video! :)

  • http://rudescotsman.com Rude Scotsman

    The comments moderator ate my link! :) Second try..

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4MvZgNnBOkw

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  • http://populationstatistic.com/ CT

    I'm very tempted to buy this game, as I loved Tempest back in the day. Only thing I'm not clear on: Can you play your music in the background while playing this game? I can see that the 1.1 version allows toggling the game's music on/off, but not sure if that means you can still listen to your iTouch's playlist.

  • http://populationstatistic.com/ CT

    I'm very tempted to buy this game, as I loved Tempest back in the day. Only thing I'm not clear on: Can you play your music in the background while playing this game? I can see that the 1.1 version allows toggling the game's music on/off, but not sure if that means you can still listen to your iTouch's playlist.

  • tony

    how do I get past level5 with all the objects ? please help

  • tony

    how do I get past level5 with all the objects ? please help

  • http://rudescotsman.com Rude Scotsman

    Just wanted to do a quick update.. I recently published a new game for iPhone called Anytime Golf. It's absolutely nothing like Vector Blaster. If you like Vector Blaster... then... I can't say whether or not you will like Anytime Golf. In fact, there's really no similarity between the games at all so I'm surprised I'm even writing this. But I can say this: If you hated Vector Blaster you should try Anytime Golf, because I don't believe hating one game precludes you from hating the other. You can hate both games. (What am I trying to say?)

    Anytime Golf. Same guy that made Vector Blaster.

  • http://rudescotsman.com Rude Scotsman

    Just wanted to do a quick update.. I recently published a new game for iPhone called Anytime Golf. It's absolutely nothing like Vector Blaster. If you like Vector Blaster... then... I can't say whether or not you will like Anytime Golf. In fact, there's really no similarity between the games at all so I'm surprised I'm even writing this. But I can say this: If you hated Vector Blaster you should try Anytime Golf, because I don't believe hating one game precludes you from hating the other. You can hate both games. (What am I trying to say?)

    Anytime Golf. Same guy that made Vector Blaster.

  • http://www.blakespot.com Blake Patterson

    Sad to see this game gone from the App Store, sometime since July '09. I still play this game a good bit. Atari legal ping, I assume.

  • http://www.blakespot.com Blake Patterson

    Sad to see this game gone from the App Store, sometime since July '09. I still play this game a good bit. Atari legal ping, I assume.

  • Bruce

    I did a Google search for "iphone tempest" and found links to videos of Vector Blaster. It seems to have disappeared from the Apps Store... what happened?

  • Bruce

    I did a Google search for "iphone tempest" and found links to videos of Vector Blaster. It seems to have disappeared from the Apps Store... what happened?

  • David

    I had the same problem as Bruce. Can't download from iTunes anymore. Something about it not being available in the US. Is there another way of getting it? Anyone know what's going on?

  • David

    I had the same problem as Bruce. Can't download from iTunes anymore. Something about it not being available in the US. Is there another way of getting it? Anyone know what's going on?

  • Sam Duncan

    Oh how I wish someone would port a viable version of Tempest for the iPhone ... seems like I used to have an old version ported for the Mac, but there was many years ago. Is there a version for OSX?

    • http://www.blakespot.com Blake Patterson

      You are likely remembering 'Tempest X,' which is nearly the same as the Jaguar's 'Tempest 2000.' 'Tempest X' came to PSX, Win, Mac OS 9.

  • Sam Duncan

    Oh how I wish someone would port a viable version of Tempest for the iPhone ... seems like I used to have an old version ported for the Mac, but there was many years ago. Is there a version for OSX?

    • http://www.blakespot.com Blake Patterson

      You are likely remembering 'Tempest X,' which is nearly the same as the Jaguar's 'Tempest 2000.' 'Tempest X' came to PSX, Win, Mac OS 9.