Review: TxK Will Turn Your Brain Into Exploding Popcorn
TxK is an arcade shooter from the acclaimed designer of Tempest 2000. The game draws from the spirit of the classic Tempest and attempts to improve on it with some gorgeous graphics, fancy terrains and new features. It also boasts a pretty whack soundtrack. Read on to see the verdict.
- Worth The Time?Yes, definitely.
- Things LovedThe colourful lights - there are so many, the gorgeous visuals and effects, the fast-pace to the game, it's super hectic, plenty of levels, the great variation in the terrain, the fantastic soundtrack.
- Things HatedThere's a lack of clarity on the gameplay and the menu explanations could have used some work, the game can fall victim to repetition, slow start.
- RecommendationTxK is the ideal game for gamers on the go who will need minutes or even hours of entertainment at the ready. It's also quite cheap.
- Name: TxK
- Genre: Shooter
- Players: 1
- Multiplayer: N/A
- Platforms: PS Vita Exclusive
- Developer: Llamasoft
- Publisher: Llamasoft
- Price: R65
- Reviewed On: PS Vita
I’ll come right out and say that I never played Tempest 2000. Before receiving the review code for TxK, I was not even aware of its existence. That’s nothing against the game or me issuing any complaint, but rather stating that I went into this game with a completely blank slate and no knowledge of what I was in for. After playing it, I think I can safely say that I know what tripping on LSD must feel like without actually having done it myself. All kidding aside, I found TxK to be very addictive and very peculiar at the same time, as it took me back to the old days of arcade shooters while simultaneously captivating me with its style and fantastic graphics and sound, both of which separate it from the past.
Before I get into it, there’s a little bit of a gripe I need to get out of the way now. While playing and explaining TxK is a simple affair, I found the main menu and explanations to be quite cumbersome. Firstly, the menu is a bit muddled and not very clean. I get that it went for a bit of an old school feel, but it’s not the nicest to navigate or the prettiest to look at. Now I’m one of those gamers who jumps straight into a game without tutorials, and only consults help when I’m absolutely stuck or the game just isn’t telling me something. The latter was what I encountered in TxK. I jumped in and was playing it just fine, but every time I picked up a power up I had very little idea of what it did. When I first played, there was one that said “beauty” after I picked it up, and I eventually just assumed it made my bullets prettier. Another said “particle laser”, but it wasn’t very clear how that affected my attack other than slight visual changes. It’s a minor gripe though. After playing a few rounds, it will be second nature.
When you begin playing you have the option of two modes, Pure or Survival. There’s very little difference other than in Survival you get three lives the whole way through, and there are no 1-ups. If you lose all your lives in Pure though, you’re able to switch to Classic mode and continue from the latest level. If I had to describe TxK in few words, it would be shooting, graphics, terrain and music. Those are the four attributes that give it all its livelihood. Unfortunately I have to mention another flaw before I get to all the good parts, and that’s the fact that the game has a very slow start. It’s first dozen or more levels are easy, simple and actually get repetitive after you’ve barely had time with the game. However, fortunately this proved to be just the beginning, and once you’re past these initiation levels so to speak, the game really opens up and becomes crazy. And then it will give you just what you want.
Interesting that I’ve started off a positive review with quite a few negatives, but at least they’re out of the way. Now we can get to the good parts. TxK is a very exciting arcade shooter. Simplicity is key, and you’ll move your peculiar looking ship with the left analogue stick and fire at your enemies with the X button. Tapping the Vita screen executes a huge shock wave that vapourises all enemies on the screen, and you get one per level so it’s encouraged to use it. The R button is for the ‘jump’ ability, that sends your spacecraft backwards out of the map for a few seconds to allow you to kill any enemies who have made it to the front. One of the best parts of TxK is the insane level design. In the beginning you’ll have simple and rather linear layouts, but as you play you’ll start to see some pretty whack stuff like cylinders, spirals and levels that change up as you’re going through them. The joy is that enemies can come from anywhere, so you’ll find yourself flying upside down, from side to side and frantically trying to cover the entire area to bring them all down. It’s a bit of an adrenaline rush at times.
Power ups too can drop off any slain enemy and move along fast, so you have to get to them quite quickly. The catch is that it’s often dangerous, so you’ll need your wits, shockwave and jump ability at the ready. You’ll often hope that you’ll get the AI droid power up, as it spawns one next to you to take down enemies. Speaking of, they can get pretty relentless. They’ll move in fast, from opposite ends of the terrain and try their best to give you the worst time. You only have two defenses against getting caught, and both are limited. If an enemy catches you, you can let off a shock wave if you have it or use the jump ability to get out. It’s exciting, awesome and often not frustrating, unless you’re playing Survival mode, because levels take just a few minutes to complete each. The objective is to score as many points as possible, and make it to level one hundred. It’s definitely good for that.
That’s TxK in a nutshell with regards to gameplay, yet I haven’t glossed over its two most exciting features. The amazing graphics and the awesome techno music. Both of these elements actually make the game what it is. The graphics are some of the best used on the Vita as of yet, and it’s just an explosion of colours that is constantly visually exciting and interesting. The addictive, whack techno music is almost like a drug in getting you into the game and transported to another dimension. Truly, I wonder whether TxK is what tripping on LSD must feel like. It’s an absolutely wonderful combination of audio and visuals to create an extremely unique shooter that keeps you hooked and your brain feeling like its exploding popcorn from all the excitement. I don’t believe that’s an exaggeration.
TxK is colourful, gorgeous and action-packed entertainment. The beginning may be slow and not the most exciting of gameplay, but if you stick with it TxK is sure to give you all the rewards for it. Often, it can be worth playing just to get lost in its strangely addictive soundtrack and enchanting bright lights and flashy graphics. Its audio and visual experience is one of the best you an experience on the Vita right now. If you’re a PS4 owner who fell in love with Resogun, this is almost like a unique Vita offering for the same crowd. It can fall victim to repetition at times and is rather simple, but it is the ideal game for gamers who will need minutes or even hours of fun at the ready. Plus it’s very cheap, so it’s worth checking out for Vita owners, especially those who lug their consoles around in the outside world.