In all honesty, I'm not sure how to write about TxK. I blame my childhood.
Believe it or not, I'm not saying that flippantly. I never set foot in an arcade back when I was little, and by the time I was old enough to appreciate them, they'd all vanished from my city. What makes that relevant to this review is that the more I play TxK, the more I get the sense that a deep and abiding love of old arcade games is what's needed if you really want to get it the way Llamasoft/Jeff Minter intended.
That's not to say it's totally impenetrable for anyone who didn't grow up shovelling quarters by the fistful into arcade cabinets. Most obviously, the music is pretty great; while classifying electronic music has never been my strong suit, to my ears it's reminiscent of that whole Big Beat sound that briefly seemed poised to take over the world back in the '90s thanks to the likes of Chemical Brothers. Meanwhile, even if the game's graphics are nothing advanced, they're still appropriately colourful and psychedelic.
How good are the graphics and the music? Sufficiently decent that even someone like me — someone with no love or nostalgia for arcade shooters — was able to get drawn into TxK. The game is just such a rush to play that it's hard not to feel like you're soaring through space with some big (some may even say Block Rockin') beats pumping away in the background.
(And, on a tangential note, I love the fact you can jump to certain levels in order to try to best your high score. It's a great feature for a game like this, regardless of whether you're just trying to get better one level at a time, or if you want to methodically master every single portion.)
Of course, you'll probably get a lot more out of TxK if you go into it with fond memories of Tempest 2000 (or, even better, the original Tempest). While I'm in no position to judge how faithfully this game represents the gameplay on arcade cabinets or the Atari Jaguar, I can definitely say that there doesn't seem to be a whole lot of difference between how TxK looks today and how some of its forebears looked back in the day — with the obvious caveat that the Vita makes TxK look a lot better than either of those antecedents (if a little less impressive than Space Giraffe).
Does that mean TxK is better? That, unfortunately, isn't something I'm qualified to judge (see: that whole paragraph up there about how I never visited an arcade when I was younger). I can say this, though: it's a visually and aurally appealing game, and it's a perfect fit on the PS Vita.