You're at the top of a long tube. Lots of colorful things are crawling up the tube at you, and shooting things at you. When you shoot them all, you go whizzing down the tube... to yet another tube.

We could make up some kind of BackStory for this... but we won't[[note]]Okay, there sort of is one: Programmer Dave Theurer came up with the idea after having a nightmare about monsters crawling out of a hole[[/note]]. It's a ShootEmUp, and fun enough that it doesn't need any excuse. Besides, we're {{Atari}}, and this is TheGoldenAgeOfVideoGames; we know you're going to keep feeding quarters into anything with our logo on it, story or no. Go nuts, guys! This video game was released in 1980.

Not to be confused with Creator/WilliamShakespeare's ''Theatre/TheTempest,'' which is a Third Person "Romance" about [[ForbiddenPlanet a long-lost genius, his beautiful daughter, and the fell things that are discovered in their seeming paradise when a foreign ship crashes there...]]

For the UrbanLegend version, see {{Polybius}}.
!! ''Tempest'' provides examples of:
* TheArtifact: The illustrations on the side of the original cabinet show actual monsters rather than the abstract squiggles that serve as the enemies/targets in the actual game. This was because they were designed and printed at a time when the plan was for them to look like that. By the time the developers threw in the towel on making credible-looking monsters with the game's vector graphics, it was too late to change them.
* ColorCodedCharacters: As you start out, your player is yellow, the playfield's blue, the spikes are green and the enemies are red & purple. [[PaletteSwap Everything changes colors after the cycle of 16 playfields resets, however.]]
* EverythingTryingToKillYou
* ExcusePlot: It's an old-school arcade game. What did you expect?
* HardModePerks: Starting on higher waves gives you a point bonus.
* InterfaceScrew: In later stages, the playfield turns invisible.
* KaizoTrap: Sort of. As you zoom through the end of a stage to the next, if you hit a green spike you will die. The first few levels with spikes at least give you a brief "Avoid Spikes" warning.
* ShootEmUp
* VectorGame
* WhatCouldHaveBeen: ''Tempest'' was originally a game called ''Vortex''. Instead of the player moving, the playfield moved and the gameplay was modeled on ''SpaceInvaders''. This was scrapped due to motion sickness; in turn, this fact ''might'' have inspired the ''{{Polybius}}'' legend.
!! The sequels (''Tempest 2000'', ''Tempest 3000'', ''Space Giraffe'' and [=TXK=]) provide examples of:
* CameraScrew: Specific to ''Space Giraffe'', where the camera is positioned to create blind spots in your vision (i.e. columns perpendicular to the screen). Additionally, there is camera spinning starting on stage 49.
* CyberpunkIsTechno: listen to the [[ iconic soundtrack]]. This was also sold as a stand-alone audio CD. Jeff Minter originally [[WhatCouldHaveBeen wanted to use the same soundtrack for Space Giraffe too]], but he did not because, in his words, "attempting to acquire the rights from Atari was hell". This might also be why [[ImplausibleDeniability he keeps denying that Space Giraffe is Tempest]].
* EverythingsBetterWithLlamas: the games contain multiple references to llamas and other ungulates, in the form of psychedelic imagery (during the game) and text (the names of some levels and some entries in the high score table).
* HaveANiceDeath: when you die in ''Tempest 2000'', you can read on your screen what caused your death (e.g. "Caught you!" "Shot you!" and so on). This was changed since ''Tempest 3000'', where you just get different sound effects depending on how you died.
* [[invoked]] ThatOneLevel:
** In a [[ Google Tech Talk video]], Jeff Minter had a discussion about his games created at Llamasoft. He discussed ''[[VideoGame/Tempest SpaceGiraffe]]'', where he designated level 64 "Flumm Ox" as that one level. "If you get to level 64, I guarantee the first time you get there you would just go 'What the smeg is going on there' and you'll die." He then plays through the level. \\
In particular, Level 64 is a 4-pointed star, with the tips being tight together. Enemies are generally slow, and everything has a psychadelic shading to look different. The level being with a large number of "danger!" announcements (those enemies that reach the top shoot two horizontal bullets), followed by spheres, flowers that extend past the limit. The combination of these makes the level difficult, at least according to the author. \\
Choosing Space Giraffe NUXX on startup removes the color shift that plagues level 64, and renames the level to "Stargoat". The NUXX option tones down the background and psychadelic effects, but doesn't change the overall difficulty of the level.
* WhatCouldHaveBeen: Jeff Minter's plan was to have Tempest 2000's soundtrack in Space Giraffe. This did not happen because, in his words, trying to get the rights back from Atari was hell.
* XtremeKoolLetterz: A Tempest 2000 review on Youtube mentioned that, had it been actually made in 2000, it would have been called "Tempest 2K". So in 2013, Jeff Minter made another Tempest sequel and called it T'''XK'''.