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a game by Argonaut Games, and Argonaut Software Ltd.
Genre: Shooting Games
Platforms: PC (1995), SNESSNES
Editor Rating: 6.4/10, based on 7 reviews, 8 reviews are shown
User Rating: 6.0/10 - 2 votes
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See also: Mechs Games
Vortex Poster
View all 28 Vortex Screenshots

So you loved Star Fox, and you've been waiting for more than a year for another space shooter that uses the Super FX chip? Wait no longer, jet jockeys, Vortex is on the launching pad and about to blast some good shootin' thrills your way.


As the first third-party game to use Nintendo's Super FX chip, Vortex bears a striking resemblance to Star Fox and the other SFX game, Stunt Race FX. That means flat, polygon-based worlds, a behind- your-vehicle view, and swarms of angular enemies.

ProTip: Enemies that can't shoot you down will try to ram you. Avoid collisions at all costs.

Vortex does add something new to the SFX universe: the ability to morph your vehicle into new shapes without pausing the game. You fight as a huge, stomping Walker, a speedy Land Burner car, a flashy Sonic Jet, and a defensive Hard Shell. Each vehicle has its own strengths and weaknesses (the Sonic Jet is quick but guzzles gas, for instance), and each has its own weapons (the Walker has firepower galore -- Cannon, Laser, Multi-Rocket Launcher, and Seeker Missile). The strategy is to pick the right vehicle for the right situation and try to save enough weapons to defeat the end-level bosses.

This isn't a very strategic game, however. It's basically just thumb-blisterin' blastin' at everything that moves. Strong controls enable you to fire with precision, and the morph-on-the-fly technique is definitely cool to do and watch.

Study the landscape carefully so you can tell the enemies from the inanimate objects.

Vortex Views

Unfortunately, the graphics are inconsistent. Your vehicle gets visual details, but enemy vehicles are basically a few flying triangles. You get good 360- degree rotation, lots of targets, and strong colors, but you don't get any speed -- this is by far the slowest of the SFX games. As enemies gradually roll toward you, you float a lazy missile at them, and before impact you could almost make a trip to the fridge.

  • Don't waste shots during Missions. You'll need 'em to defeat the Mission bosses, such as Mission One's Warrior Crixus.
  • Proceed cautiously as you enter gates on Cryston. Enemies or traps often lurk just on the other side.

The sounds are standard shooter fare: fast-paced techno-poop (er, that's technopop) and basic zings 'n' zaps. Killer explosions or imaginative vehicle sounds would've added immensely to the intensity.

Vortex Verdict

If you like polygon shooters and you don't mind a plodding pace, you'll like Vortex. However, if you want high-speed action, you'll have to zoom to a different SNES galaxy.

Download Vortex


System requirements:

  • PC compatible
  • Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP

System requirements:

  • PC compatible
  • Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP
  • Pentium II (or equivalent) 266MHz (500MHz recommended), RAM: 64MB (128MB recommended), DirectX v8.0a or later must be installed

Game Reviews

Something Is Rotten In The State of Denmark. However that has nothing to do with The Vortex (sequel to Quanlum Gate) which sets its boundaries a lot wider. The year is 2057 and something is rotten in the planet of earth. Indeed things have got so bad that it is predicted (probably by MORI or someone) that by the year 2085 all life will be extinguished. You can guess the reasons. Overpopulation, pollution, exhaustion of the world's resources. English teams playing too many matches in a season. All the usual stuff really. There are two ways to sort it: cut down the size of the Premiership or send out a special expedition to planet AJ3903 in search of a precious mineral (Iridium Oxide if you're interested) that can restore the Earth by means that are never fully explained.

This being The Vortex rather than Championship Manager 2 it is the second option that is selected. Under the auspices of the United Nations (yep. they're still going - someone's got to keep all those limo companies in business) an expedition is sent to the planet. There's a problem. Of course there's a problem. This problem is of the large insects with homicidal tendencies variety. So the UN reaches for the large swatters and giant fly spray and battle commences.

Holding out for a hero

The hero of the film (The Vortex is a film rather than a game) is Drew Griffiths "A young medical student running away from a tragic past"; probably too many nights in the medics bar drinking beer out of a bucket and sticking Mars Bars up his bottom. Half of The Vortex is taken up with piecing together exactly what that past is.

After a disastrous sortie. Griffiths is nearly killed and wakes up on the planet surface and makes a few alarming discoveries. Firstly the insects are not insects at all but actually look remarkably like Jennifer Saunders. Secondly the United Nations' motives may not be as entirely altruistic as they initially appeared (well, nothing new there then). To make matters worse - or more confusing at least - Drew starts having weird dreams and seeing images from his past. You know these are images from his past because Drew says "Bizarre - these appear to be images from my past". Not the greatest piece of dialogue perhaps but undeniably informative.

Come Play With Me

The Vortex is not a game but an interactive movie. As the film progresses icons appear on screen which can affect the development of the plot. There are question icons which represent specific questions which you can ask - it's up to you who you ask and when. There are also action icons such as look, listen, remember and action (i.e. do something, take the initiative). Kmotion icons allow Drew to throw tantrums, sob his eyes out or be incredibly balanced and reasonable (you old Libran, you). These displays of emotion seem to be the actions which have the most significant effect on the development of the storyline. As in adventure games right back to the dim but glorious Monkey Island there are text boxes with options for conversational gambits and an on - screen hand for movement.

Although The Vortex is not a game (I'll probably manage to say that three or four more times during this review), it is supposedly interactive so I'm going to have a quick go at the icon system. Firstly it obviously limits interaction since you can only do things when the icons are present, more seriously since the icons tend to appear in ones or twos you get the feeling that you're very much being led by the game - it's rather like having someone behind you saying "Don't you think you ought to talk to the bald guy with wings?". In the conversations you can use all the lines in the options box. one after the other - they don't lead you off into new areas from which there's no getting back. All of these are fairly par for the course whinges about an interactive movie since even on three cds it can only contain a limited amount of video and so only a limited variety of plot. What was a bit more irritating was the amount of times an option (usually action) Hashed up so quickly that by the time you'd moved the mouse the option had gone again. Maybe I'm just getting old. (Getting? Ed.)

Still, on the plus side, it's all fairly intuitive (which is no bad thing since there's precious little in the way of instructions) and runs reasonably smoothly. It's not supremely interactive but is more so than most of its ilk.

Marietta Frostrup

Okay, that's the game side dealt with. What about The Vortex as a film? Well it's better acted than most interactive movies - I'd even go as far as to say it's quite well acred. (Steady on. Ed.)

Some of the backgrounds look a bit crap (almost ECA-ish if truth be told), but the video sequences are watchable. The only real downer are the endless "flying above the treetops" sequences. At times you think you're watching some dreadful World Of Disney nature programme. Still you can (and should) skip past these.

As for the writing. Well for me there's rather too much hippy shit in there. It's all very return to the Garden of Eden, rediscover the purity of Mother Earth, wear flowers in our hair and write lots of very long, boring acoustic songs. (On the plus side one of the characters has a bizarre hang up about killing Belgians.) The script is rather too full of this sort of right on ethno crap ("I'm deeply aware of my effect on my environment") as well as clumsy plot development lines (as in the "Bizarre these appear to be images from my past" comment I mentioned earlier.)

But hold on there bald eagle. The film/game/interactive movie is rescued by its structure. A cynic may claim that the use of flashbacks is a cunning way of being able to use the same pieces of video rime and again. But when was I ever cynical? Because The Vortex is about piecing together memories as well as simply progressing through a quest, it is pretty engrossing. It's actually a fairly intelligent plot. A bit like a film on Channel 4 it can be pretentious, irritating and PC. but it is also intriguing and imaginative.

Scores on the doors

Okay, as a game The Vortex is bollocks. Too limited and too bog standard in its control system. As an interactive movie, however, it's a lot better. It's slick, professional (with the exception of a few a few dodgy backgrounds) and reasonably imaginative. There's enough variety and plot options to make the title "interactive movie" less of a breach of the trades description act than these things usually are. All the usual provisos still apply - do you really want to pay 40 for a film? etc. but this is a good example of its kind. Still not a true interactive movie but a step in the right direction.

Barbarians from the Aki-Do system have stormed the Deoberon Capital of Trantor via an Interdimensional Vortex, and have seized control of the capital city, Trantor, and the powerful Al Core that defends the peaceful Deoberon world. Unable to destroy the Al intelligence, the dreaded Black Troop Generals removed the Core from its housing and hid the four data banks and the central Core on their own heavily defended wasteland planets. It's up to you, as the pilot of a robot (known only as "Morphing Battle System") to reclaim these data banks and restore the Al Core. Use your extraordinary transforming abilities that allow you to become a Sonic Jet, a Landburner, a Walker, or a Hard Shell to compensate for fhe varying terrains of the planets, from the frigid Cryston, to the scorching Magmemo. You will combat the Black Troop's vicious guardians with your vast array of rockets, cannons, lasers, and mis-siles. Even if you are skilled enough to reclaim the data banks, you must return through the dimensional gateway to Trantor, to face the Black Troop Master in the most brutal battle ever!

  • Manufacturer: ELECTROBRAIN
  • Number of players: 1
  • Difficulty: MODERATE
  • Available: OCTOBER 1994
  • Cartridge size: 4 MEG + SFX CHIP
  • No. of Levels: 10
  • Machine: SNES
  • Manufacturer: Electro Brain.

Morph between four different robots and blast polygon monsters in a polygon landscape. While this game doesn't even come close to virtual reality, it does have a lot of solid gameplay. This one should be rented before you buy it.

  • Machine: SNES;
  • Manufacturer: Electro Brain; Argonaut

Welcome to your nightmare! It's fifth hour Geometry class and you're postulating the theorem of the circumference of a group of attached integers - Eeks! Not to fear. Soon enough you're gonna be able to race home and revenge your confusion by pulverizing polygons in Electro Brain's (makers of Star Fox) newest game, Vortex.

You're in charge of the Morphing Battle System, and you gotta save the world. Sure, saving the world can be awfully tiring but you've got the power of the ultimate Morphing Battle System at your disposal. Storm through the icy world of Cryston destroying the enemy, while searching for keys, power-ups and elevators. Vortex is packed full of different perspectives which make this game appear like no other. The Morphing Battle System can transform into the Sonic Jet, the Walker, the Landburner, or the Hard Shell, and each mode has its own strengths and weaknesses.

Vortex was developed utilizing the latest version of the revolutionary Super FX chip, which is a definite improvement on the earlier FX chip. The FX chip gives Vortex the speed that's necessary for a game of this nature. However, because of the pricey FX chip, Vortex is only four megs in size so that it could be affordable for consumers. Hats off to the programmers for packing so much gameplay into 4-megs. I just wish they could have had a full 16- or 24-megs to work with.

As you may have guessed by now, I can't wait for the finished version of Vortex to come in the mail! When it does, I get to review this polygon bustin', shape-changin', speed-burnin' mother of a game! Keep your eyes peeled for the smokin' review in the next issue of Game Players.

The Morphing Battle System

Knowing when to change into what can be the difference between life and death.

The Sonic Jet mode is best for a quick escape, flying over traps, or reconnaissance missions, but it's a gas waster and has weak defenses.

The Landburner mode is best when searching the land for keys and power-ups, but it has trouble handling an aerial assault.

  • Manufacturer: Electro Brain
  • Machine: Super NES
  • Theme: Action

Electro Brain has renamed their F/X chip game, Citadel, to Vortex. Vortex will have the same plot and transformations of your mech. Like before, you can go anywhere on the battlefield you want, and transform into four different forms.

The visual effects in Vortex are unbelievable, with tons of scaling throughout the constant battle scenes.

Vortex uses a variety of viewpoints to give the player the best possible advantage. That way, you can see around you. Unlike most games, you'll be attacked from all sides!

If you want a fast-paced shoot-'em-up, Vortex will give you what you need. Are you good enough to save the world?

Vortex (formerly known as Citadel) is a 3D shooter similar to Star Fox designed to use the SNES Super FX 1 chip, a custom-made graphics accelerator RISC processor. It was developed by Argonaut Software. The player is cast as a soldier fighting the Aki-Do Forces, an evil empire bent on taking over the entire universe. To stop them, the player has access to an experimental mech, the Vortex, to travel the seven worlds of the Aki-Do system and destroy the bases.

Electro Brain has renamed their F/X chip game, Citadel, to Vortex. Vortex will have the same plot and transformations of your mech. Like before, you can go anywhere on the battlefield you want, and transform into four different forms. The visual effects in Vortex are unbelievable, with tons of scaling throughout the constant battle scenes. Vortex uses a variety of viewpoints to give the player the best possible advantage. That way, you can see around you. Unlike most games, you'll be attacked from all sides!

If you want a fast-paced shoot-'em-up, Vortex will give you what you need. Are you good enough to save the world?

Snapshots and Media

PC Screenshots

SNES/Super Nintendo/Super Famicom Screenshots

See Also

Viewing games 1 to 2
Ranger X is a side scrolling shooter of sorts. You control a large mech (robot) which has a smaller side-kick mech which is a bit like a car.
MechWarrior was the first video game to offer the player a chance to actually pilot a BattleMech from the view of a pilot (a MechWarrior).