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Vortex is an iPod game developed by Kabloom Games and originally released by Apple Computer (later Apple Inc.). It is a Breakout / Arkanoid clone with a top-down perspective and bricks arranged in a circular layout.


Vortex was among the first iPod games to be released through the iTunes Store on September 12, 2006 for the 5th-generation iPod (running at least iPod Software 1.2), 3rd-generation iPod nano, and later Click Wheel-based iPod models.[1] On January 30, 2007, Apple introduced a demo version of the game for free with two sample levels. This was intended for users of older 5th-generation iPods as the iPod Software 1.2 update did not come with the full game pre-installed, like units that had been released later (also referred to as "5.5-gen").[2] Vortex and other iPod games were removed from the iTunes Store by the end of September 2011 as Apple began phasing out non-iOS iPod models.[3] However, Vortex continued to be pre-installed on 6th-generation iPods ("classic") until Apple stopped selling them on September 9, 2014.[4][5]


The basic gameplay of Vortex is similar to Breakout (also released for previous iPod models as "Brick"), in which a ball must be deflected by a paddle (or "bat") to destroy bricks. However, the bricks are arranged along the inside of a cylinder.[6] The player begins with 5 lives and rotates the Click Wheel to move the paddle around the cylinder, in a somewhat similar fashion as Tempest. The motion of the paddle can also influence the angle at which the ball is deflected.[7]

The paddle is slightly curved, conforming to the game's circular outer wall. The ball moves slower as it approaches the cluster of revolving bricks and faster as it moves away. The effect, if you like, is that of planetary gravity, except in reverse. The ball's trajectory and speed – whether traveling toward or away from the cluster – is continuously influenced by the pulling forces of the outer wall. The angle at which the ball strikes a brick, or bricks, also affects its direction and, usually to a lesser extent, its speed. The speed of the paddle upon making contact also has a subtle influence on the ball's path.

As game levels progress, the size of the cluster grows and the number of concentric circles comprising it increases. In the early moments of each higher level, the empty ring between the brick cluster and the outer wall grows smaller, a confinement that necessitates quicker paddle movement.

To pass a level, all destructible bricks must be shattered. Adding to the challenge, there are bricks which "retract" for a time, enabling the ball to pass through instead of shattering it. Certain sets of bricks also move around the circle. Other bricks take multiple hits to shatter. Steel bricks are almost indestructible, unless one hits a dynamite brick next to it, but are not required to complete the level. Dynamite bricks (indicated by red dots) when hit will take out several other bricks with its explosion but are also not required.


There are marked bricks which release powerups in a similar fashion as Arkanoid. The powerup, indicated by a small green sphere, heads out from the center and the player catches it to activate it. The powerups include resizing the paddle, changing the speed of the game, adding lasers or guns to the paddle, making it able to capture and release a ball, getting additional multi-balls, and extra lives.[7][8]

Powerup bricks are not required to complete the level, but destroying a powerup brick, even if it is not caught, adds more points to the total than destroying a normal brick. The points score is equal to the points for the bricks destroyed plus the bonus points for timing.

All powerups expire if the player loses a life or beats a level with the exception the extra life powerup, which continues to have effect even after beating a level and expiring after losing a life.

Cheat codes[]

Entering the player's name as the following enables the respective cheats:[9]

  •  PWR B — Gives the player the powerball (this code requires an extra space at the beginning).
  • FORSIX — Gives the player 24 lives.
  • I GUNZ — Activates the gun power-up.
  • ME PAZ — Activates the laser power-up.
  • NO ID  — Activates alternate backgrounds that are not normally available (this code requires an extra space at the end).


The walls of the first level are marked with "1 Infinite Loop" and "DeAnza Blvd", the address and adjacent street associated with Apple's headquarters at the time.[4]


IGN called Vortex a "good casual Breakout-esque game" that "feels pleasantly organic."[7] iLounge complimented it as "one of the prettiest iterations of Breakout to date", though in need of allowing the player to set their preferred music options.[8] Pocket Gamer's review of Vortex highlighted the integration of the iPod's scroll wheel with the 360-degree layout. However, the slow pace of the ball was criticized.[6]


The music in Vortex was composed by D.B. Walker.[citation needed]

  • Arc of the Noid
  • Son of the Noid
  • Return of the Son of the Noid II, The Revenge


  1. Apple Announces iTunes 7 with Amazing New Features, Apple Computer. 2006-09-12.
  2. LC Angell (2007-01-30). Free demo of Vortex iPod game offered. iLounge. Archived from the original on 2007-10-13.
  3. Apple removes click-wheel games from iTunes as iPod classic lives its last days by Neil Hughes, AppleInsider. 2011-09-30.
  4. 4.0 4.1 iPod classic: User Guide (PDF) p.52, 71, Apple Inc. 2009-12.
  5. The iPod Classic Died Because Apple Couldn't Get Parts For It by Dan Kedmey, Time. 2014-10-28.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Stuart Dredge (2006-09-28). Vortex review. Pocket Gamer. Steel Media. “An innovative take on Breakout that works well with iPod's controls, even if it is a bit slow.”
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Levi Buchanan (2006-09-18). Vortex for iPod Review. IGN.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Jeremy Horwitz (2006-09-25). Reviews: Apple Computer Vortex. iLounge. Archived from the original on 2008-03-07.
  9. Vortex (iPod), The Cutting Room Floor. 2021-10-10.

External links[]

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