Video Game #2: Tempest (1981)
Is Tempest the most relentless video game ever created? It is certainly the most intense vector graphic title ever designed — pretty good considering it is composed of a handful of lines and basic shapes. And yet this simple set up reduces players to pure reaction, unable even to catch their breath between levels. All you have to do is shoot the pointy opponents sliding up the walls of a pit, and clear all the obstacles in your path before you plunge into the abyss.
In other words, it was exactly like high school.
Originally envisioned as a “3-D” version of Space Invaders, Tempest quickly mutated and surpassed its digital ancestor in every way, especially speed. As you danced on the edge of a dizzying vanishing-point perspective, slings, arrows and things were flung at you in quick succession. Just as soon as a pit was cleared of moving targets, you were fired like a bullet through a gun barrel to the next level (better hope you blasted all the spikes in your way, or your trip would be a short one). Each level the shape of the pit became more elaborate, and the objects flung at you more deadly. No music, no cute cartoon characters, just pure digital rush.