Cover art of the game in all regions
|Designer(s)||Kris N. Johnson|
|Release||September 5, 1995|
|Mode(s)||Single-player, multiplayer (via Jaguar Voice Modem)|
Ultra Vortek is an ultra violent fighting game developed by Beyond Games and published by Atari for its Atari Jaguar home console system in 1995. The game's design followed the 1990s fighting game trend and attempted to capitalize on the popularity of such games. Like many ultra violent titles, the game received a "Mature" (17+) rating from the Entertainment Software Rating Board. There is also an unreleased version for the Atari Lynx which is being finished and published by Songbird Productions.
Game play modes and options
Ultra Vortek can be played in one player, two player vs., or two player online modes. The player(s) have the option to turn off vs. area select, turn off blood, adjust time from 100 seconds (default), 60 seconds, or none, turn sound from stereo to mono, and configure buttons. The player also has the option to change the music tracks from "Fight It" (default) to "Thy Name Is Evil", "Mockery", "Death Dance", "Sad Future", "Irish Thrash", "Drunkicidal", "Krappin", "Midevil", "Rave Me", or "Mosh". Difficulty settings range from "Training", "Normal", "Hard", or "Killer". Music can be changed in the options screen or in the pause menu.
The game is set in a dystopia where civilization has been reduced to a Mad Max inspired world of warlords. After the discovery of a mystical artifact, humanity declined and nations across the world fell apart.
During the world's decline, science and technology has advanced far enough for humans to develop creations of their own. The first was the robot, designed to replace human manual labor for cost effectiveness, and with their own ability to reason. However, after being enslaved for more than 50 years, the robots became self-aware and formed the Society of Machines, Androids, and Cyborgs, or the SMAC, which petitioned for equal rights in human society. As a result, conflict between humans and robots developed.
The second creation humans developed was a group of human clones known as Specially Qualified Unique Engineered Eugenic Biounits, or SQUEEBs. Designed by the Military Industrial Complex, ltd. with survival capabilities that surpassed humans, SQUEEBs would eventually replace soldiers, and were used heavily during war. Eventually, during a great conflict in the year 2112, some SQUEEBs escaped and formed a collective underground gang called the Powershifters. Unlike the other gangs, the Powershifters have no true leader. As a result, very few gangs offer any allegiance to them, as their opinions and views change.
As society crumbled, many humans joined gangs to rebel against the corrupt government and the rival gangs. The largest known gang in the underground is the MeatHackers. Unlike the other gangs, the MeatHackers have developed into two different factions. One using their Vortek derived powers and tools of combat, and the other using hand-held weapons. This has created friction between them, with the older members that favor their Vortek derived powers often regarding hand-held weapons as poor substitutes.
After a certain point, a mysterious creature, satanic in appearance called the "Guardian," appears before humanity and announces that he will destroy the world, unless a warrior can defeat him in violent combat. The Guardian has allotted a specific amount of time for humanity to select seven of their best fighters and have them compete with one another. Once the fighter defeats the other warriors, he will open the "Ultra Vortek", combat the Guardian, and if victorious, may then use his newly acquired power to determine the fate of the Earth.
- Lucius (current leader of the MeatHackers, and grandmaster of the Vortek power division)
- Dreadloc (second in command. Leader of the weapons division)
- Grok (only known SQUEEB of his kind).
The Society of Machines, Androids, and Cyborgs
- Skullcrusher (known as the "Minister of Discipline")
- Carbon (a possible PowerShifter; essentially a black palette swap of Grok, with one additional move)
- The Guardian (boss)
- Shadows (shadow-colored palette swaps of any of the seven fighters. They are fought before facing The Guardian, thus being considered sub-bosses)
Ultra Vortek (originally named Ultra Vortex) spent well over a year in development, and missed its original February 1995 release date. There were a series of delays for the game, with the release being pushed back month after month, finally releasing in the late summer of 1995. There was never an explanation given for the delay.
In 1994 at the Consumer Electronics Show, Atari announced that it partnered up with Phylon, Inc. to create the Jaguar Voice/Data Communicator. The unit was delayed and eventually in 1995 mass production was canceled altogether, but not before an estimated 100 or so were made. The unit utilized a 19.9kbit/s dial up modem and had the ability to answer incoming phone calls and store up to 18 phone numbers. Players were required to directly dial each other for online game play. The only Jaguar game that supports the JVM game is Ultra Vortek. The modem was initialized in the Ultra Vortek start up screen by entering 911 on the key pad.
In their review, GamePro praised the game's "impressive" graphics and the ease of executing special moves, but gave it an overall negative assessment based on its lack of original elements. They concluded, "Ultra Vortex [sic] is a great game for someone who hasn't seen Killer Instinct, Mortal Kombat II, or Super Street Fighter. But if you've seen and played those games, you've seen more than Ultra Vortex has to offer."
- "ProReview: Ultra Vortex [sic]". GamePro. IDG (82): 66. July 1995.