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Tempest is a 1981 arcade game by Atari Inc., designed and programmed by Dave Theurer. It takes place on a three-dimensional surface, sometimes wrapped into a tube, which is viewed from one end and is divided into either 15 or 16 lanes, depending upon whether the tube’s shape was closed or open, respectively. The player controls a claw-shaped “blaster” that sits on the edge of the surface, snapping from segment to segment as a rotary knob is turned.
Tempest was one of the first games to use Atari’s Color-QuadraScan vector display technology. It was also the first game to allow the player to choose their starting level (a system Atari dubbed “SkillStep”). This feature increases the maximum starting level depending on the player’s performance in the previous game, essentially allowing the player to continue. Tempest was one of the first video games to sport a progressive level design in which the levels themselves varied rather than giving the player the same layout with increasing difficulty levels.
Asteroids Deluxe is a vector graphic multidirectional shooter released in arcades in April 1981 by Atari Inc. as the sequel to Asteroids. It was followed by Space Duel in 1982 and Blasteroids in 1987. Key changes in Asteroids Deluxe were designed to combat the saucer-hunting strategy of Asteroids, which allowed experts to play for extended periods. The game is significantly more difficult than the original. Ports of Asteroids Deluxe were released for the BBC Micro in 1984 and the Atari ST in 1987.
Missile Command is a 1980 arcade game developed and published by Atari, Inc. and licensed to Sega for European release. It was designed by Dave Theurer, who also designed Atari’s vector graphics game Tempest from the same year. The 1981 Atari 2600 port of Missile Command by Rob Fulop sold over 2.5 million copies.