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Tempest Screenshot


Tempest Upright

Game Overview

  • Upright: October 1981
  • Cabaret: December 1981
  • Cocktail: December 1981
Atari's Tempest is a one or two player game with a color X-Y monitor. The player controls a yellow claw-like object thatcan be rotated around the top rim of several different "tubes". Enemies come out of the tubes and attempt to destroy the player. When all the enemies in a tube are destroyed you fly through the tube to the next one. Each tube changes shape until level 16 where they repeat but with a different tube color and harder enemies. There are 16 tube shapes in all.
Tempest is an exciting game and did very well in arcades despite the problematic XY monitor and they can be found very easily around the USA. The cabaret and cocktail cabinets are nice in that they are small and light, but they don't compare to the stylish cabinet of the upright!

Tempest #1

Brad Martinson bought this Tempest(Front View) from his friend John. Upon closer inspection though, he realized that it was Serial #0001. The PCB is labeled "Vortex" and the wiring harness is labeled "Aliens". The Control Panel is completely black with Dymo Label's for instructions. By looking at the Side View of the cabinet you can see that there is no sideart and upon closer inspection though you will notice that the cabinet stripes are actually routed out strips! Everything else is pretty much just like a normal production cabinet. The monitor however has a homemade Protection PCB wired into it. This game did have one important feature that was not included in the original cabinet, that would be the rats nest that was in the light fixture!! Great find Brad/John!!


Here is a short interview with with the designer..
Nick Sayer has written an AMAZING HTML TROUBLESHOOTING FLOWCHART for Tempest problems.
Gregg Woodcock has written a terrific Tempest Hardware Description & Troubleshooting Guide.


Tempest Pinouts
Tempest ROM Text Summary
Jeff Hendrix recently figured out all the ROM's and re-organized them into 2K blocks for all us shmoes with older boardsets. He has also written up a short and concise readme file. Enjoy!
Tempest Version 1 ROM Images :includes the score cheat below.
Tempest Version 2 ROM Images :corrects the scoring cheat.
Tempest Version 3 ROM Images :Corrects screen collapse between players
Mathbox PROM data For the 74S288 Proms.
A Mad Delusional RGVAC'er did THIS (It's totally TUBULAR! Man!!)
Tempest DIP Switch Settings
Self Test Error Codes
Tempest Memory Map


This is a cheat that was aparently left in by somebody at Atari. It was removed in ROM 217 and 222 Software Revision 2. Given a score with the format XXYYZZ: XX must be greater than 16, YY between 29 and 60, and ZZ is a code.
Codes for ZZ are as follows:
    00 - freeze screen
    01 - access bookkeeping totals
    05 - play during attract mode
    06 - 40 credits
    11 - 40 credits
    12 - 40 credits
    14 - credit sound without actual credit
    15 - credit sound without actual credit
    16 - 40 credits
    17 - 40 credits
    18 - 40 credits
    41 - switch last 2 digits of score
    42 - increase score quickly
    46 - demonstration mode
    50 - player moves by itself
    51 - player moves by itself
    60 - objects drift down
    66 - objects drift right
    67 - objects jump
    68 - objects drift up
    70 - objects drift up
Two more tricks (the coolest?) can be activated by playing the attract mode (05) and setting the last 2 digits to:
    46 - random-coloured level with wrong enemies!
    48 - 255 extra lives


Craig Johnson wrote and added this info...
    Final score is:
    • 72,100 - Get 2 or 12 credits
    • 340,000 - Get 40 credits
    • 630,000 Get 40 credits.
  • For the other (early ROM) cheats to work, your score must be between 189,999 and 208,000 at game's end.

    Even More...

    This info is from Scott Payton...
      When playing Tempest, at the end of any level you have a certain amount of "Time" to insert another coin to continue your game on/about where you left off, but that "Time" runs out after a few seconds of not continuing. This is not true once you reach the 33rd level (where the grids turn Yellow). As long as at least 1 credit remains in the machine, you can return to that level at any time in the future. (I've walked away from mine at level 36 for two days, and it still allowed me to pick up my game where I left off.

    Picture Gallery

    Tempest Manual
    Tempest Flyer: Front Tempest Flyer: Middle Left Tempest Flyer: Middle Right Tempest Flyer: Back
    Thanks to Ian Boffin for the Scans

    Go back to the Atari Vector Page

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