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Basic strategies[edit]

Move constantly[edit]

An early level

Remember: You're a live wire. Be constantly aware of the enemies. Dart quickly to lanes where enemies are. Speed is especially important when frying Flippers. If Flippers have reached the top lanes—and begin their chase—you must attack them with lightning speed. And fire constantly. Don't be timid. And watch out for Spinners!

Shoot from the ends of unconnected patterns[edit]

There are two types of patterns: Those that allow your blaster to sweep full circles around the edge, and those that do not allow you to sweep full circle. When playing the latter pattern types—unconnected patterns—there are two "safe" spots to ambush Flippers. Those spots are on top of the extreme (end) lanes. You can stay safe on top of an end lane by jiggling your blaster back and forth and firing constantly. The Flippers will drop into that end lane, becoming susceptible to your fire. After destroying the Flippers, you can move around and kill your remaining enemies. Remember, always: You must both move and fire. You can't stay still and expect to survive. And make sure that end lanes are free of Spikes.

Kill two Flippers with three shots[edit]

Flippers are your most persistent enemies. It's important kill them fast, before they reach the top of the lanes. A simple, effective method of killing them is this: Fire one shot at the Tanker, which will then split into two Flippers. One Flipper will immediately enter the lane to the left of the Tanker, the other Flipper to the right. Move to the lane at the left and shoot one Flipper. Then move back two lanes—to the one on the right—and kill the other Flipper. Do this lightning fast, or it won't work. Once this strategy is mastered, Flippers can be eliminated early in the game, before they reach the top.

Keep lanes free of Spikes[edit]

In order to move from one pattern to another, you must move through one of the sixteen lanes. This occurs once the animated enemies have been killed. Inanimate Spikes remain after the other enemies are dead. If you're at the top of a lane that has a Spike—and you move through that lane to the next pattern—you'll be impaled. Take all the free time you have to push spikes back. Always know where your free lanes are. On unconnected patterns, it's best to keep the end lanes free of Spikes. On connected patterns, leave the widest lane free of Spikes. Once the words "AVOID SPIKES" appear on the screen, you should be able to instinctively move to a free lane.

High level strategies[edit]

Red Levels[edit]

The red levels are the second go-round, and they introduce one nasty new enemy: the Pulsar. Unlike any other enemy, Pulsars don't have to touch you or use a weapon to kill you. They can get you simply by short-circuiting the lane you're in. Because they can do this anytime, anywhere, you have to be extremely observant for their presence. Fortunately, the game provides a visual clue. Since Pulsars bridge the electricity in their lanes, these lanes will have no tops (your end of the well will have no line in a lane with a Pulsar).

Yellow Levels[edit]

Yellow is the third level color

Two new enemies are introduced in the yellow levels: the Fuseball tanker and the Pulsar tanker. Regular tankers have an empty hole in the middle, but a Fuseball tanker has a piece of a Fuseball in the hole and a pulsar tanker has a part of a pulsar in the hole.

Fuseball tankers are the most deadly. They will split into two Fuseballs, often sending them straight to the top. When you shoot one, move over at least three lanes to be safe from the Fuseballs.

Pulsar tankers split into two Pulsars, one on each side of the tanker's lane. Shoot the tanker and stay in that lane. The Pulsars will be on each side of you. Tap the fire button repeatedly and they will flip right into your lane where your shots will be waiting for them.

There are no Spikers until level 43 (the yellow flat), so clearing lanes won't be a problem. After level 43, try to keep three or four lanes clear instead of only one. Sit in one lane, wait until the Pulsars are off, spray shots over three lanes, and move back. This should give you a safe corridor to stay in.

Cyan Levels[edit]

Everything is a little faster in the cyan levels. In addition, Spikers are in all 16 levels, so it is more important to keep the lanes free of spikes for the trip through the tube. Use the same strategy of sitting in one lane and sweeping your shots over three lanes while the Pulsars are off. You will have to speed up the rhythm because the Pulsars are faster.

The best lanes to stay in are are the ones that give you the most margin for error in shooting the Flippers. Flippers are vulnerable longer when they have to flip more than 180 degrees. For example, the base places on the peanut-shaped level are the two middle lanes.

Be very careful if you don't have time to completely clear a lane of spikes. As you start down the tube, all shots in the tube will disappear; don't get stabbed by a spike you thought was shot away.

Invisible Levels[edit]

The invisible level is the most fun, and the most frustrating. In this level the outline of the tube is invisible, but the spikes can help you see which lane you're in.

Many experts can work their way up to the invisible circle in only one game. They will often get stuck there, however, unable to get to the next continue level. Until now, the next continue level was never more than four levels away. But in the invisible level, you have to finish nine levels to reach the next continue level. Use the yellow level strategy again, but only try to clear three lanes instead of four. The Fuseballs are extremely fast, and you will often see five on the screen at one time.

Don't worry about clearing lanes for the end of a wave. The spikes are so soft in the early invisible levels that you can whittle away a full length spike while on the way down the tube.

NOTE : On the XBOX 360 Gameroom version, they substituted White outlined levels, instead of Invisible. (Maybe due to emulation issues).

Green Levels[edit]

The green circle is the last continue level, and some players find it easier than the invisible level because you can see where you are going. Once you've made it, you're on green levels until you run out of lives, no matter how far you go. After level 98 (the second green square), green levels come up at random and the level number is capped at 99.

The spikes are a problem on all green levels and Pulsars are deadly even at the bottom of a tube, where they are protected by long spikes. Keep three lanes clear on green levels. Be careful with the Super-Zapper, which kills enemies one at a time. Fuseballs are fast enough to kill you even after pushing the Super-Zapper button.

Secret Jump to Green[edit]

Level selection screen

Here is a trick for getting to the 898,000 point green level without playing all of the way up to it. It can only be done on early Tempest versions because Atari corrected the problem on newer machines.

Get a score between 180,000 and 210,000. Shoot spikes until the last two digits in your score are 46, and then lose all remaining lives with your score ending in 46. The machine will then go into the attract mode (push the fire button quickly to enter initials if necessary). Wait at least until the word "Tempest" in big white letters appears twice, and you will be able to start a new game at any continue level!

Secret 40 Free Credits[edit]

Just like the Green Level trick, achieve a score between 180,000 and 210,000 -- but this time make sure the last two digits are 10, 11, or 12. Lose all your lives by getting shot (if you crash into your enemies, you will increase your score). Wait for the graphics to cycle, and you will hear the machine clicking up credits.

Some notes on the score:

-The easiest way to get between 180,000 and 210,000 is to clear level 24, and get yourself killed. Promptly start a new game at level 24. Once you clear this level, the bonus will put you right where you want to be.

-To get to "46"; "10"; "11"; or "12", you need to use the spikes. Each shot at a spike is worth two points. If you shoot a spike all the way to the bottom, the last shot is worth one point. Use this strategically to get an even-numbered score if it is odd. Shoot only one shot at a time so you don't accidentally overshoot your goal.

-Obviously, the best approach is to get the credits first, then work on getting to the green levels. A skilled player should be able to play all day for the cost of two credits.

Level skip[edit]

One interesting quirk of this machine is that, if it is set to free play with all continue levels always available, it is possible to end any level at any time by pressing the 1-Player Start button. Presumably this was included to facilitate demonstrating the machine to would-be purchasers.