The future of Spectrum adventure games hangs in the balance. Mr X, a renegade Time Lord plans to infect all of them with a deadly character-killing virus. Doctor Goo leaps into his time machine and travels to the planet Alinam in a desperate attempt to stop the dastardly plot.
Alinam has two contrasting climate zones and a several amenities open to locals and tourists alike. Unfortunately they all require a certain amount of money - a commodity which the eccentric doctor patently lacks. A little exploration and careful searching provides him with a small number of coins - just enough to help him a little further in his quest. As long as he makes careful use of them and doesn't squander away his newfound wealth in the amusement arcade he should he able to travel all over the planet, discover the secrets of the housing estate, learn of the sorrows of Tony, the chip shop owner and finally reach the nerve-centre of the virus operation itself.
A little interaction with Alinam's inhabitants, from witch to mechanoid droid, is definitely called for. There is ample opportunity for conversation although the violent approach can he as effective as a more concerned and compassionate one. The only language most traders understand, however, is the language of money.
Whereas characters are likely to respond in a rational, if sometimes idiosyncratic manner, object-orientated puzzles are far less logical. You're likely to hit on certain solutions by accident rather than design although occasional clues, given in response to the EXAMINE command or by other characters, should stop you from getting completely stuck. In moments of uncertainty it's best to rely on a combination of imagination and the list of acceptable vocabulary called up by a WORDS command. Doctor Goo' s response to successful completion of a puzzle, in characteristically eccentric and scatterbrained terms, makes up for the trouble you might have experienced in attempting to solve it.
Sudden death, claim S.A.E.C. is not a feature of this game. They speak with their tongue lodged firmly in their collective cheek. As everyone knows, Time Lords never die - they simply undergo a continuous round of bodily transformations. If he's caught, a particularly nasty metamorphosis is forced on the good Doctor Got. Death is an impossibility but what could be worse than an eternity of living death?
Virus, like The Jade Stone and Enter At Your Own Risk, was written using the PAW. As usual, the program accepts complex sentences (not including adverbs) and RAMSAVE. There is little allowance for alternative wordings of a necessary command but the vocabulary list usually helps you out on those occasions when you're really stuck for words.
Another example of a competent and slickly presented PAW ed adventure, Virus doesn't exactly stand head and shoulders above the crowd. it does present a perfectly playable , light-hearted and enjoyable challenge, though. and as long as you're not too fussy, is unlikely to leave you feeling cheated of your £2.99. Virus is available direct from S.A.E.0 at 4 Kilmartin Lane, Carluke, Lanarkshire ML8 5RT.
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