VIRUS is a game with a history. It started life on the Archimedes, for which Acorn wanted a really good demo. They contacted David "Elite" Braben, well-
For reasons still not likely to convince anyone of Telecom's sanity, the game lost some features - Firebird deemed the smart bombs silly, and gained some new aliens along with the name Virus during its trip to the Amiga. But here it is, nonetheless.
Virus is a shoot-em-up. Compared to others of the ilk it's like selling an ST to someone who's seen an Amiga - fiendishly difficult - but apparently it can be done.
Your Hoverplane flies over a patchwork landscape. It is not alone: a range of aliens has also taken a liking to the area and they are determined to turn it red. They do this by seeding the old green and pleasant with viruses, whereupon the crops fail, the people starve and you - yes, you - get to go out there and marmalise the critters.
The most difficult thing about Virus is controlling the hover-plane. It flies straight upwards when the mouse is dead on the spot it was on when the plane was launched. If the mouse is moved away from that spot the plane tilts in that direction.
Firing the rocket under the plane will start it moving thus-wards, but as the mouse is moved farther away from the central point the plane tilts more and more until it is upside down.
The rocket motor now points upwards, and will propel the plane into the glorious quilt of a countryside at a speed which seems impressive the first five or ten times you see it.
By the thirtieth time you've examined the interesting geology of ten feet under, you will have found that the mouse is so sensitive it bursts into tears during Blind Date.
It is a moment of considerable triumph when the plane is steered towards that blip on the radar and gets close enough to hear the chilling whine, let alone close enough to see the circus tent decor of the alien seeder. Now all that needs to happen is to hit the blighter - just dip the nose a little to aim and... oh well, you always wanted to be a landscape gardener.
Eventually it does prove possible to steer the plane well enough to hit the seeders with the laser fun. The best strategy, to spiral downwards and spray away like an innocent hippo on a helter skelter, pales when you notice that every blob fired results in a point taken away from your score. Negative scores are not uncommon in the early days.
You have three short-range guided missiles, which if fired from too low an altitude, are also liable to take up gardening. However, iit is possible to rise to the flight ceiling and let off the missiles with a fair chance of hitting all three seeders on the first screen.
This leaves you nothing but your wits and the laser to cope with the bombers, drones, mutants, pests and fighters which infest the later screens. You get an extra life and missile for every 5000 points, it says in the notes. I believe these, as so far their description of all those deviants has proved devastatingly accurate. There are so many ways to die...
If this sounds too, too nasty, then rest assured that the graphics are wonderful - the first shoot-'em-up that really works in a three-
You haven't lived 'till you've died in Virus.