By Brad Cook
The objective seems simple enough: Bounce the ball off the bricks and destroy them. Clear the screen and move to the next level. Those of you who have been playing video games since the late 1970s are familiar with the concept, which began with Breakout.
But you havent played a brick-and-bat game like Vortex, which turns the action into a 360-degree affair, challenging you to spin your bat around circular rows of bricks, some of which require multiple hits to break. Sure, you can break bricks that grant power-ups, such as multiple bats or a power ball, but youll need them if you want to beat the time limit for clearing the level and earn bonus points.
Deceptively Simple Becomes Fiendishly Difficult
Start the game with five lives and a series of heavily-cracked bricks that take just one hit to break. As you progress to higher levels, youll encounter lightly-cracked bricks that need two hits to shatter, as well as solid bricks that wont break until you bounce the ball off them three times. The shiny silver bricks wont break no matter how many times you hit them, but you dont need to clear them from the board anyway they simply provide an extra surface for angling your shots.
Let the ball pass and your bat will vanish in a flash of flame, taking one life off your total. To help you avoid that, the higher levels also bring them with a bag of tricks, including bricks that explode and take out others around them and bonus bricks that drop power-ups you can grab: multi-bat; multi-ball; bat stretch; bat shrink; sticky bat; slower or faster action; and power ball, which passes through bricks when it breaks them, rather than bouncing back.
When you complete a level, youll earn two extra points for each second you came in under the time limit. Vortex tracks your historical scores, number of levels cleared, number of bricks destroyed, and number of bonuses received. For each category, you can view your best total, an average of your totals, and the number you achieved in your last game. If you need to quit during a game, you can easily save your progress and return to it later.
Need some help? Read on for our tips and tricks, as well as a few cheat codes.
Tips and Tricks:
- Hit two bricks where they join together to eliminate both of them at the same time.
- Bouncing the ball off one end of the bat will angle it in that direction.
- Try to place the ball between rows of bricks, so it can bounce around for a while and destroy them. Just be ready for it to return through an empty space.
- You get a three-second breather before the action starts in each level, but you can always press the Select button if youre ready before the timer hits zero. Dont let an opportunity to slip the ball between rows of bricks pass you by.
- If a power-up is headed your way when the bat is destroyed, you can still grab it while waiting for the timer to count down before the action begins again. If a power-up is falling when you destroy the last brick in a level, however, you wont get a chance to scoop it up.
- Many power-ups are cumulative, which means you can, for example, get the multi-ball and then grab the multi-bat, giving you three balls and three bats at the same time. However, picking up two consecutive power-ups that increase or decrease the speed wont make the action happen twice as fast or twice as slow.
- Watch out for rows of bricks that lie down and cant be hit. Theyll sit up again, though.
- Learn the icons that represent the different power-ups, so you know which ones are headed your way. Youll want to ignore a power-up if you already have it, or if it will negate one youre currently having success with. Youll find pictures of those icons in the Help section of the main menu.
- You say you want to cheat? Well, okay. Heres how: Access the Personal Info option from the main menu, but make sure you dont have a game in progress while doing so. Rename yourself, choosing from one of the options below (_ equals a space). You should see the words Cheat On after you select Done. After the game ends, or if you abandon it, you must enter the cheat again if you want to use it.
- ME_PAZ: Activate the laser power-up. The laser destroys all bricks in its path.
- I_GUNZ: Activate a pair of guns that each shatter one brick at a time.
- FORSIX: Start the game with 24 lives.
- _PWR_B: Activate the power ball power-up.
- NO_ID_: Unlock special backgrounds.
- When you activate the guns, power ball, or laser cheats, they stay in effect even if you lose a life, but they can be overridden by certain bonuses. For example, the sticky bat power-up will take away the guns or the laser.