Like most of the other Western-made fighting games of the '90s, Ultra Vortek is heavily influenced by the Mortal Kombat series, lifting its use of digitized actors, gratuitous violence, grimdark themes, and brutal finishing moves.
Set in a dystopian future, the world of Ultra Vortek has humanity driven to ruin by a number of calamities (including a robot uprising and a revolt of genetically-cloned humans), with rampant gangs attempting to control what's left. Now a demonic creature, known as the "Guardian", announces that he will destroy the world unless he is defeated in combat.
Along with its infamous secret finishing move (that transforms the losing fighter into a pile of steaming feces), the game is known as the only game to support the rare Jaguar Voice Modem (JVM) peripheral for dial-up multiplayer.
The game includes seven playable characters from the start and two hidden characters (one of which serves as the game's final boss).
- Lucius - The leader of the MeatHackers, a violent human gang that rose to prominence once the world began to crumble. Uses his fists in combat.
- Dreadloc - One of the MeatHackers. Uses a giant poleaxe in combat.
- Volcana - A female PowerShifter, the gang formed from cloned human revolutionaries that have elemental-themed powers. She has fire-based powers.
- Grok - A rock-like PowerShifter.
- Mercury - A molten quicksilver creature that leaves behind smaller entities after every hit. Also from the PowerShifter faction.
- Buzzsaw - A robot equipped with his namesake, and a member of a society of androids and robots that formed after they rebelled from human ownership.
- Shadows - Clones of the regular characters shown in silhouette. Appear for shadow matches.
- Guardian - A demonic visitor who promises total destruction to the humans, robots and clones if he cannot be bested by Earth's greatest warriors. Unlockable with cheat code.
- Carbon - A hidden opponent and palette-swap of Grok. Unlockable with cheat code.