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

             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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