from AEO Magazine, Volume 4, Issue 8
||| Jaguar Review - Ultra Vortek ||| By: Frans Keylard / | \ GEnie: AEO.2 Internet: email@example.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 fatalities. 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 breath.  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 punishment! //// 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 identification. //// 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 guys! //// 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 fighters. 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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