Virus, a new puzzle game from Manta Research, is a re-skin of a very popular Flash game called Filler. Although Virus brings nothing new to the table in terms of gameplay, its clever medical theme and high production values make it a worthwhile purchase.
In Virus, you play the part of a human body’s immune system. Your job is to fend off viral infections by growing white blood cells, so that their combined area equals a certain percentage of the screen’s total area. All you need to do to start a cell growing is touch the screen; the longer you keep your finger on the cell, the bigger it’ll swell. When you release your finger, the fully-formed cell will fall towards the bottom of the screen, deflecting any virusii it encounters as it falls.
The difficulty comes from the viral particles randomly bouncing around each level. If a virus runs into a white blood cell while you’re in the process of growing it, it’ll kill the cell and you’ll lose a life (you start the game with three). You only get a certain number of cells on each level, so you have to make them count area-wise, while also taking care to keep them alive. It’s simple, but the risk-reward balance is compelling. There are only a handful of virii on the early stages, but they proliferate rapidly as you get further into the game. Tons of the little buggers bounce around the later levels, conducting total war against your beleagured bloodstream; the only way to survive is to tilt the phone and trap them underneath a landslide of white blood cells.
The presentation in Virus is a real treat. When you start a new game, you get a faux medical scan of your human, while a robot voice intones: “Warning! Virus detected!” You then get a little trivia blurb about the particular infection. The bloodstream graphics are awesome, too–multilayer backgrounds swirl like those found in Spore Origins, and the white blood cells are very detailed, down to the nuclei that bob around inside them. In addition, the game offers a built-in online leaderboard for daily, weekly, and all-time high scores.
To summarize, Virus is a high-quality quickie game that’s easy to pick up and play, but difficult to master. It’s not feature rich, and it doesn’t introduce any innovations to the Filler formula, but that’s okay for a cheap game (Virus’s price has vacillated between free and $1.99; we bought our copy for 99 cents). So go ahead, sicko: download Virus and get well!