Continuing our new series, this time our attention turns to a PS Vita exclusive release. Created with funding support from Sony themselves, this arcade shoot-em-up took inspiration from an all-time arcade classic yet it’s set to disappear forever when the PlayStation Store closes its doors forever this Summer. The game? TxK from one of the industry’s longest established developers and publishers Llamasoft…
Those old enough to remember the name Llamasoft from the 8-bit and 16-bit era were immediately excited when it was announced that they were developing a game for the PS Vita. Lead programmer Jeff Minter is one of the true legends in the games industry. Having created games for almost every home computer ever released there are very few people who haven’t played at least one of his games in the 80s or 90s. His penchant for arcade shoot-em-ups is a thing of legend and having his work on the Vita was something truly worth celebrating.
The fact that TxK was set to be an exclusive was all the more reason to be excited. Even without any details we knew we were in for a treat. Amazing visuals, fast arcade action, stripped back to pure adrenaline-fuelled gameplay. It’s no surprise that my review of TxK gave it our highest score possible of 10 out of 10 when it was finally released. But the inspiration behind the game, Atari’s arcade hit Tempest, is what almost lead to the game’s downfall…
The Atari Controversy
I won’t delve too deeply here, but after the Vita version was released, plans were made to bring out TxK for other platforms including the PS4. At this point Atari entered the fray. To simplify what happened, Atari argued that TxK was a direct copy of and used code from one of their previous releases, Tempest 2000 for the Atari Jaguar. What complicated matters was that both games were written by Jeff Minter. However, Minter was able to prove that not only was his code original but that the game was inspired by and not a direct copy. Atari made numerous copyright and trademark threats, all of which ultimately failed.
But this failure by Atari to have TxK removed from sale wasn’t without consequence for Llamasoft…
Why Is This Now An Essential Buy?
Even though Atari backed down from their legal action against Llamasoft, TxK remained a PS Vita exclusive. The planned console ports were cancelled. Instead, an agreement was entered into and the game was revised for consoles and became Tempest 4000. While the heart of TxK was still there, it wasn’t quite the same game we were used to on the Vita. However, while it was still allowed on the PlayStation Store, no further sales agreements could be made so no matter how much Vita owners demanded it, a physical release wasn’t possible no matter what limited edition company wanted to work to make it happen.
With that being the case, TxK exists only as a digital release. It’s significance as Llamasoft’s first and only PlayStation Vita title can’t be ignored. For some, the later release of Tempest 4000 may be a suitable substitute to play a modern reworking of the arcade classic. But if you want to play the original of this incarnation of Jeff Minter’s trippy shooter, then time is rapidly running out.