Thinking about it now this comic is kind of similar to the one I did about Elite, but I guess that’s no surprise both games were from the same genius brain of David Braben.
Virus actually reminds me a lot of Defender, but in 3D, especially in regards to how you spend the first hour or so playing the game in fifteen second chunks because you keep dying all the time. Controlling the ship is a real art form that can take weeks of solid play to master, and most of the time you just end up flipping yourself upside down and pile-driving yourself into the ground. That’s pretty much my most vivid memory of this game.
It really is a classic shooter though, and one of my favourite games of all time. Once you get the hang of controlling the ship it’s a real joy to boost around the terrain, skimming the ground and soaring up high while feeling velocity and gravity play against each other. Shooting an enemy for the first time is an elation rarely felt in games, shooting one without dying immediately afterwards is like a miracle.
And man, the SOUND! It’s a really quiet game for the most part, but uses samples to great effect. The takakakakaka when you shoot is great (always thought it was neat that you lost one point for every shot you make, that’s a great idea) but man the KABOOM you hear when you get killed is something else. You really need to pump the speakers up when you play this.
The Amiga version is the one I go back to, of course, but one day I really need to try out the Spectrum version just to try and wrap my head around how they did it, and why. There’s also a neat PC remake called Z-Virus that’s worth trying out, and they fixed the short view distance that bugged me about the original. Try it out!