Ultra Vortek

Atari Jaguar

from AEO Magazine, Volume 4, Issue 8

 |||   Jaguar Review - Ultra Vortek
 |||   By: Frans Keylard
/ | \  GEnie: AEO.2     Internet: fkeylard@on-ramp.ior.com

In the 21st century, a team of archaeologists in South America
unearthed an ancient tablet in an Incan temple. This tablet contained
cryptic runes referring to a god or demon, known as the Guardian. It
told of how the Guardian appeared to the people and told them of the
"Time of Testing." In the past, the Guardian had appeared to various
civilizations in order to challenge their finest warriors to defeat
him. The penalty for losing was the death of their entire empire. The
life force of the defeated empire would return to a powerful relic
known as the "Ultra Vortek." If the challenger defeated the Guardian,
the powers of the Vortek would be the spoils.

Civilization started deteriorating after the discovery of the tablet,
crime and corruption were everywhere. Some technological breakthroughs
were achieved in this time. Menial work was performed by robots for
decades, but with the unforeseen side-effect of a new bio-chip, the
robots gained self-awareness. The robots revolted because they
realized their mistreatment, and formed groups that petitioned for
equal rights and status within society. The military had also been
playing with stuff they really shouldn't have, and created Specially
Qualified Unique Engineered Eugenic Bio Units, also known as SQUEEB
units. These abominations were able to alter their molecular
structures into other shapes and forms for battlefield purposes. Many
of these SQEEBS managed to escape their military bondage and banded
together to form one of the top three Underground gangs.

These two new lifeforms could not get along with humans or each other.
Both groups contend for the rights and status of normal humanity.
Given these warring parties, civilization was bound to take an even
sharper turn for the worse. The government cracked down on the
violence and this drove humans into underground gangs as well.

The Guardian reappeared amidst this chaos, and posed the challenge to
all the gang leaders simultaneously across the world. Each main group
would get ten years to train their best warrior to fight the Guardian.
Each of the selected warriors were given a piece of the broken Vortek
tablet. The other pieces of the tablet must be won by defeating the
opponents who hold them. When all the pieces are collected, the tablet
will open the Ultra Vortek and summon the Guardian for the final
confrontation. Seven warriors have been chosen, but will the victor be
strong enough to defeat the Guardian and save Earth?

//// The Game

Ultra Vortek is a side-view 2D fighting game in the massively popular
tradition of Street Fighter 2 and Mortal Kombat. Notice how the
absence of Kasumi Ninja in that list? I would probably sooner mention
Way of the Exploding Fist or International Karate! Ultra Vortek
belongs squarely with SF2 and MK in terms of playability and style.
It is best said that UV has SF2 controls and MK style digitized
fighter graphics.

However, it would be unfair to leave the comparison at that, since the
UV graphics are better than MK by a long shot. The backdrops are
extremely impressive, with animation everywhere. Mortal Kombat
introduced the world to the unusually bloody "Annihilation moves," and
Ultra Vortek takes this one step further with some truly nasty ways of
finishing opponents off. Each character possesses two unique finishing
moves, combined with a special finishing move unique to each backdrop.
The manual only describes a few of the special moves, and the rest
need to be found out during normal gameplay, and what gameplay it is!
At first there might seem to be a faint lag in the controls, but this
disappears when you get used to the tempo of the game. After repeated
playing, the UV controls start to fit like a (bloody) glove! Sorry, I
got carried away with all the gore flying around!

The in-game sound effects are crisp, the music is compelling but not
distracting, and the announcer's voice is as dark and evil as I have
ever heard! You must first beat all six opponents, and each opponent
must be defeated twice in order to proceed to the next. You have to
drain your opponent of all energy in order to triumph, and it is
possible to both die at once, in which case you must fight the bout
over again. After beating all six characters, you have to face their
rather perturbed spirits for an additional three rounds before facing
the Guardian himself.

This game packs lots of little considerations, from the selectable
music in each stage (press option + A,B, or C while paused) to the
lack of annoying lags between bouts, one feature I am very grateful
for! This game simply invites playing, and never lets up. Each
character has weaknesses and strengths; some are fast and furious,
while others are methodical and hard-hitting. Find the fighter that
suits your style and you're set! Of course you can play against the
computer if you want to practice without your buddies around and the
levels are:

Training -   Your opponents are quite comatose and willing to line up
             with your hits.

Normal -     This is still very easy peasy, claiming you beat the game
             at this level is the same as admitting wussdom.

Hard -       Separates the adults from the kiddies. This level is
             suddenly much harder than Normal. You suddenly become
             painfully aware of the multitudes of ways to suffer

Killer -     Slightly harder than "Hard" but with more matches to
             fight when you play against the Shadows.

I have been able to defeat the Guardian in "Killer" mode with Lucius,
which was a pretty tough thing to do, but this game gets its real kick
from the two-player mode. In head-to-head fighting games, this is the
feature that makes the game the most fun. Computer opponents can be
predicable, but the human variety is often prone to very annoying
"lucky punches," and even more annoying "lucky wins."

The more I play UV, the higher my appreciation for the game. Bravo
Beyond Games for giving me a great method of stress release!

//// Meet the Cast

[] Lucius is a human with the Vortek-given energies to shape shift and
   emit plasma bolts.

[] Dreadloc is a big and powerful Jamaican who's war cry is "Hey Mon!"
   Dreadloc wields a nasty glaive-staff and has particularly nasty

[] Buzzsaw was formerly a logging robot and is adorned with very
   functional saws.

[] Skullcrusher was a construction robot and has very powerful
   grappling claws and a cutting torch eye-laser.

[] Volcana looks like a gorgeous blonde, but sadly she is a specially
   created infiltrator SQUEEB. Her heightened intellect is augmented
   by extraordinary combat skills. She is able to teleport, play with
   all sorts of fire, and generally mess up anybody's day. She's so
   hot she scorches!

[] Grok is an urban pacification robot with a thick granite-like
   exterior. While admiring Grok's exquisite graphical rendering,
   remember not to get to get stuck between Grok and a hard place!

[] Mercury finishes out the list of candidates in style. Mercury is a
   SQUEEB that reminds me of the T-1000 in Terminator 2, only with the
   body of Arnold Schwarzenegger instead of Robert Patrick. He can do
   all sorts of nasty shapeshifting, ranging from a Porcupine Spike
   Defense to something known as a Big Gooey Pounder (and it really
   does just that!).

//// Some Strategy

Dreadloc and Volcana are very susceptible to uppercuts after Dreadloc
does the Spear Rush and Volcana does the Fireport Uppercut. Don't
forget to crouch down and hold away for defense as they execute their
moves first! The Guardian is a piece of cake if you jump-kick towards
him and immediately pummel his socks off. As soon as the Guardian gets
pummeled out of range, jump-kick again and pummel some more. This even
works like a charm on the "Killer" level. When you access the special
pounding moves such as Grok's Tenderizer (the moves usually pulled off
at close range), keep pressing Punch during the pounding for extra

//// Description of the Moves

First I need to clarify the conventions. In a 2D fighter, when
moving towards your opponent, the direction on the joypad will be
referred to as "Forward" or "F" for short. The opposite direction
(away from the opponent) is "Back" or "B". Up and Down are "U" and
"D", normally the characters will either jump or crouch when these
directions are used (without pressing any buttons). If a move involves
a diagonal move, as in the case of a forward jump, where the diagonal
direction between "Up" and "Forward" needs to be pressed, I will mark
this as [U,F], whereas U,F means Up then Forward.

The red action buttons are labeled as follows: A - Punch, B - Kick, C
- Jab.  I will use the action verbs to indicate these buttons instead
of A,B,C in order to avoid confusion. If two buttons need to be
pressed simultaneously, it will be listed as A+B. The last variant
is the "hold" function, this will need you to hold the joypad in the
given direction for two counts before executing the rest of the move.
It will look like: hold-F, Punch.

For example: B, Kick simply means pressing the joypad away from your
opponent and pressing kick.

The non-regularly listed moves will have a "*" after them for easy

//// General moves (These moves can be done by all characters)

Punch & Pummel          A Button (default)
Kick                    B Button (default)
Flying Kick             [U,F], Kick (very effective opening move)
Jab                     C Button (default)
Uppercut                D, Punch
Sweep                   D, Kick
Hop Back                B,B
Hop Kick*               B,B, Kick (effective against crouched opponents)
Escape from Grab        Tap Punch button repeatedly.

//// Lucius

Lightning Blast  1      D,F, Punch
Lightning Blast  2*     [D,F], Punch (same effect as 1, but my
                        variant, is much easier to rapidly duplicate,
                        just hold and keep firing away!
Lightning in Air*       U, F, Punch
Hawk Attack Low         U, D, Jab
Hawk Teleport           U, Jab
Electro Therapy         F,B, Punch (close to opponent)
Spinning Back Kick*     B, Kick
Hawk Attack High*       U, D, Punch
Ground Spark Wave*      F,F, Kick
Annihilator* 1          F,F,B, Punch (when close)
Annihilation* 2         (in air) B, B, Punch

//// Dreadloc

Fire Breath             F,B, Punch
Speed Slice             hold-B, F, Punch
Come to Daddy           F,F, Punch
Spin Staff              D,F, Jab
Spin Staff              [D,F], Jab - Again, easy access!
Up close Combo*         ???
Low Jab*                D, jab?
Angle Spear Dive*       (in air) D,D, Punch
Back Off Man!*          F, Punch
Annihilator 1*          F,F,F, Jab
Annihilator 2*          D,D, Kick,F, Jab (3 steps away)

//// Buzzsaw

Hi Buzzsaw              F,F, Punch
Pain Machine            hold-B,F,Kick (4 or more steps away)
Low Bolo                F,F, Jab
Gut Spear Uppercut      hold-B, F, Punch
Airgrab and Slam*       (in air) D, Punch
Richochet Blades*       (in air), [D, Jab]
Gut Grinder*            B, Punch (close to opponent)
Annihilator* 1          D,F, Punch (3 steps away)
Annihilator* 2          F,F,F, Jab (3 steps away)

//// Skullcrusher

Brain Fryin' Microwave  F,F, Punch
Creeping Ground Blast   F,F, Jab
Choke & Thump           hold-B, F, Punch
Grim Dive of Death      hold-D,U
Charged Particle Blast* B,F, Jab
Stride & Slide*         F, Kick
Knife Head Butt*        B,F, Punch
Annihilator 1*          F,F,B, Jab (3 steps away)
Annihilator 2*          hold-B, F, Jab

//// Volcana

Flame Blast             D,F, Punch
Fireport (behind)       D,B
Fire Breath             B, Punch (when close)
Flying Firedive         hold-B, F, Jab
Fireroll*               in air, F, Jab
Aerial Firebomb*        In air, D + Punch
Firewall*               hold-B, F + Kick
Fireport Uppercut*      hold-D, U
Annihilator 1*          F,F,B, Punch (close)
Annihilator 2*          D,F, Jab (3-4 steps away)

//// Grok

Boulder Morph           hold-B, hold-[D, Jab]
Ground Pounder          hold-B, Jab
Boulder Bounce Air      (in air) hold-B, Jab
The Tenderizer*         B, Punch (in close)
Annihilator 1*          hold-D, Jab (in close)
Annihilator 2*          ?

//// Mercury

Spinning Blade Sweep     D,D, [Kick, Jab]
Big Gooey Pounder        B,F, Punch
Sawblade                 hold-B,F, Kick
Porcupine Spike Defense* D,D, Kick + Punch
Annihilator 1*           F,F, Punch (3 to 4 steps back)
Annihilator 2*           D,F, Jab (3 to 4 steps back)

//// Special Hidden Features

Ultra Vortek is rife with hidden features, rumor has it there is a
special voicemodem code, hidden characters, and the ability to play
the Guardian to boot! Pressing the "#" key at the background select
screen in two player mode allows you to play in the "Hidden Palace,"
while pressing "*" instead lets you access the "Subway Passage!" The
hidden opponent Carbon can be played against if you play on the Hard
or Killer level in the subway passage stage. You will have to score a
double perfect on the left side of the stage (where it says "No
Fighting-This Area Only.")

Most backgrounds have their own annihilation moves, D, Punch seems to
work most often, but there are more.

Everybody can also add Turbo Mode to their Ultra Vortek list!
Pressing 1,5,9 at once during the Ultra Vortek title screen enables
turbo mode! A deep "Fight" will notify you of the proper code. In
addition to the usual modes in the primary option screen, there will
be an extra speed choice: "Normal" or "Turbo". Turbo mode is very
addictive! The speed took me so much by surprise that I got
slaughtered by Volcana (in Killer) within seconds. Once you do make
the adjustment, normal mode feels like slow-motion!

Moves credits: Gyaku@aol.com and Vaultkeeper@aol.com - Keep 'em coming

//// Final Ratings

        Title: Ultra Vortek                    JagNet: VoiceData modem
       Design: Beyond Games                   Players: 1-2
 Published by: Atari                     Availability: Now
       Retail: $69.95                             Age: 17+

 A Summary of ratings:
        "*" is a whole
         "+" is a half
       5 stars maximum

 Graphics -  *****   Wonderful backgrounds and colorful characters
    Audio -  ****+   Good sound and special effects, a perfect blend!
  Control -  *****   Excellent control and playability
 Gameplay -  *****   I keep coming back for more!
  Overall -  *****   The ruling monarch of fighting games, and it
                     looks like this could last a while! This game
                     makes you completely forget about other Jag

Pts Stars  AEO Ratings
""" """""  """""""""""
 10 *****  GAMING NIRVANA!!! - You have left reality behind... for good.
  9 ****+  Unbelieveable GAME!! - Your family notices you're often absent.
  8 ****   Fantastic Game!! - You can't get enough playtime in on this.
  7 ***+   Great Game! - Something to show off to friends or 3DOers.
  6 ***    Good game - You find yourself playing this from time to time.
  5 **+    Ho-hum - If there's nothing else to do, you play this.
  4 **     Waste of time - Better to play this than play in traffic.
  3 *+     Sucks - Playing in traffic sounds like more fun.
  2 *      Sucks Badly - You'd rather face an IRS audit than play this.
  1 +      Forget it - ... but you can't; it's so badly done, it haunts you.
  0 -      Burn it - Disallow programmer from ever writing games again.

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