Author: Phil King
Publisher: Firebird
Machine: Spectrum 48K

Published in Crash #55


The country has been invaded by waves of hostile alien spaceships. Instead of attacking military installations, they are intent on polluting the landscape with a red virus. This kills off all plant and animal life, including humans.

Determined to counter this devastating threat, a brave pilot is strapping himself into the cockpit of his state of the art Hoverplane. This futuristic flying machine is equipped with the latest technology - long-range scanner, laser cannon and a limited supply of smart bombs. The latter can be used to destroy any aliens on the screen.

The action is shown in 3-D with wire-frame vector graphics depicting the Hoverplane and enemy ships. The contours of the tree-filled landscape are shown by a pattern of undulating squares depicting the earth's surface. The long-range scanner, in the top left corner of the screen, shows the positions of the enemy ships in relation to the Hoverplane. Gauges above the main playing area show the amount of fuel remaining and the plane's altitude. Extra fuel can be obtained by landing at home base.


The Hoverplane is controlled by thrusting the engines and rotating the craft. At high altitudes, the fuel supply is automatically cut and the plane lowers rapidly towards the ground. You move, helicopter-style, by dipping the plane's nose and thrusting.

During play, a map of the land can be displayed showing polluted areas in red. All enemy ships in the attack wave must be destroyed before the whole map turns red. Each wave contains many different aliens, including the dreaded seeders (flying saucers which hover and sometimes land, spraying the deadly virus). Also polluting the area are the high flying bombers. The objective of alien ships (chevron-shaped fighters and kamikaze pests) is to destroy the Hoverplane. Collision with any spaceship results in the immediate destruction of the Hoverplane.

If an alien attack wave is defeated, the player gains a bonus score determined by how much of the landscape is still free of the virus. An extra Hoverplane and smart bomb are awarded every 5000 points.



Joysticks: Cursor, Kempston, Sinclair
Graphics: the wire-frame 3-D landscape suggest movement very convincingly. Pity about the colour clash
Sound: none
Options: definable keys

Mark ... 75%

'My first impression of Virus was that it's extremely hard. Initially I found my Hoverplane to be most uncontrollable but, after some semblance of order was established, I managed to execute some neat aerobatical stunts. I still didn't shoot very many enemy craft though. Considering this game first appeared on the machines with a bigger byte, Firebird have done a very commendable job converting it to the Spectrum. The landscape rolls along up hill and down dale very smoothly: the only slightly annoying glitches are the colour clash between the Hoverplane and the landscape, and the appearance of the enemy craft on the map as they pass. Overall, a fast and furious blast-'em-up. After the initial control difficulties have been ironed out, it's great fun to play.'

Nick ... 78%

'Virus Is graphically excellent, the 3-D effect works well and the scrolling is smooth. The screen is a green monochrome colour with the exception of the border but as the ship is white, it does tend to clash with anything else it approaches. At first the Hoverplane is terribly difficult to control. The thrust control method is very similar to the ageing thrust games, like 1985 - The Day After and the more recent Thrust II, but with the added confusion of 3-D. The landscape moves up and down very convincingly making the game look like a wild waltzer ride! The main let down is the sound - not one beep to be heard all through the game. As we all know, an atmospheric sound effect makes a game, but with Virus you just have to use your imagination! Even so, Virus is great for all those fans of thrust and 3-D - a perfect combination.'

Phil ... 79%

'Yet another wire-frame shoot-'em-up hits the streets. But, the addition of a smooth moving, tree-filled landscape makes Virus rather unusual. Mother innovation is the strange control method which has the Hoverplane flying like a helicopter - it can only thrust upwards and therefore has to dip its nose to achieve forward movement. This is confusing at first and difficult to master and has you crashing continually into the ground. It's easier if you just use the keyboard, though. The movement of the landscape as you skim over the tree tops is surprisingly smooth and quite fast Unfortunately the attractive 3-D display is accompanied by silence - there's not even the tiniest bleep. As a result there's very little atmosphere and flying around shooting aliens soon gets repetitive. There is little if any strategy involved in Virus but even so, it's a well-presented, playable shoot-'em-up.'

Phil KingMark CaswellNick Roberts

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