Virus 302 Special Edition

Dr. Dos
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Closer Look: Virus 302: Special Edition

By: Dr. Dos
Published: Dec. 19, 2016

I [Dr. Dos] made a bad game when I was 10 and I made it worse when I was 13.

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The player is the unceremoniously dumped into the second half of the game's world map. The new locations are the City of ZZT, the red plains, and the forest of ZZT. The map mechanic is pretty pointless since the rest of the game is strictly linear. There aren't even passages for the other areas.

I also want to point out that we're now halfway through this game, and so far the villain has not been revealed, explained, or hinted at in any way other than the content taken directly from the original game in an area the player is told is optional.


I got a laugh in my stream of the original Virus 302's City of ZZT which consisted of three buildings. The remake is true to its roots, again with a city of three buildings.

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The first large building is a weapons dealer who will sell you a shotgun or an illegal AK-47. The weird "What can I get now" choice only shows up when you have a weapons permit purchased from the pawn shop which lets you buy the AK without a bribe attached.

The second building sells items. It's possible to buy a first aid kit, or a larger medkit here. These don't increase your health directly, but instead are used in the RPG fights throughout the game as healing there. You can only carry one of each of these due to ZZT's flag system and limits making it a huge pain to have a custom counter. What other RPGs often did instead, was use torches to represent healing items and avoid all the micromanagement of code.

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The last building can actually be entered. It's the publishing offices of the Daily OOP newspaper. Nine floors of stuff to check out.


As soon as you step onto the second floor, the bullets start flying. I assume the thing in the corner is supposed to be a printing press.

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You:Hi, uh, do you know where that evil

You:guy is?

Evil Guy:I'm on the roog.


Evil Guy:Author had a typo. I meant roof.

Evil Guy:But anyways. I have taken over

Evil Guy:This newspaper building and then

Evil Guy:I will take over the world!!!


Evil Guy:Yes and a hearty fuck you to you!

You:Damn bastard!

Evil Guy:Look just kill the guards and get

Evil Guy:on with your short life.
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Such language. In order to proceed you need to find the enemy which has the key to the next floor on them and kill them. Except if they don't die within the first few seconds, they'll become invincible due to a bug in the code!

The game tries to be smart and have the weapon you're carrying work outside of RPG battles as well, so the game reduces the number of shots these enemies take if you have better weapons. Unfortunately, it does this in a loop, which eventually means the enemies won't react to being shot at all and can no longer be killed! Good. Great.

Anti-Virus!Dum dum dum!!!
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Evil Being/Guy:Hello. Roof already?

You:Yeah! How did I go from the 2nd floor
to the roof?

Evil Being:Plotholes would be my guess.

You:You do realize this is just a rip-off
of Tseng. The characters realizing the

Evil Being:Yes and us calling the author
a damn loser.

Both:Damn loser!

Narrator:Hi! I'm that voice whose in too
many games.


Narrator:I'm here to say that you two are
supposed to be beating the shit out of
each other.

Evil Being:I'm also supposed to reveal
that I am

Narrator: Anti-Virus! The evil being!

Anti-Virus:You read my line

Narrator: Here then read my next line.

Anti-Virus:What the hell? I thought I told
you two to fight.

You: That screwed everything up.

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Haha did you think the content that was implied would actually exist? Of course not. V302:SE constantly tells you about things that aren't in the game, and always in a way where if they weren't mentioned in the first place, the player wouldn't care.

At least


The second fight is with Anti-Virus. There's still no answer to who he is, what he's doing, how he's doing it, why he's doing it, or anything else, but at least there's a name and the knowledge that he's evil and has to be stopped.

The fight plays out just like the spider fight. Also despite having purchased the AK-47, I appear to not have it. Whether it's a bug with the purchase or with the RPG engine, it doesn't really matter because you're still in no danger of dying.


After reducing his health enough, Anti-Virus runs away. The game continues to call attention to the complete lack of motivation for the player.

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The subway is protected by several guards. The player can just buy a ticket and board the train, or alternatively the player can pick a fight and murder some people to save a few bucks.


The fight plays out just like the previous ones, but this time there are two targets. In order to compensate for essentially doubling the difficulty, the time it takes for the guards to be ready to attack is also doubled. At the very least, the player doesn't have to worry about getting overwhelmed and relying on good RNG to be able to win fights.

The limit break meter here starts partially filled, but again, it doesn't go up at all in the fight.


I opted to target the second guard, and upon defeating him, the game acted as if both has been killed. A convenient bug if ever there was one. For beating them the player gets a bunch of stuff as well.


After defeating the guards or just buying a ticket and boarding the subway, the player is dropped off in the middle of the _new_ Yass Plains. This time the green fakes have dark green backgrounds, and there's a sunset background.

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Instead of a pile of lions and ruffians, there's a pile of objects. A lot of them shoot each other. Just like in the newspaper office, the enemies eventually become invincible, so the player should just run past them.

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The next screen builds up stronger enemies who also become invincible so it doesn't exactly matter. I feel like there's half of a sentence missing around the "Now even stronger an incredibly strong person." line.


After a few more screens of enemies to just run right past, bypassing any gameplay, the player reaches Anti-Virus again.

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Anti-Virus:Hello Joe.

You:Scumbag! What the hell are you trying

You:to do?

Anti-Virus: Ins't it obvious?

You:Honestly? No.

AV:It's simple really. You see... well..

You: Spill it!

AV: Ever play(and beat) Operation OBRIAN 2

AV: if you did you know what the virus is.

AV: That's basicly me. A computer virus/

AV: Airborn virus that affects all.

You: If you are two kinds of Virii then


AV: Look in a year I'll be changing it to

AV: Master Virus.

You:Oh, okay then,but what are you doing?

A/M V: I plan to infect every resident on

A/M V: this planet. Conquer it and rage an

A/M V:all out war on other planets.

You: Ah, I see

Anti-Virus:That's MASTER Virus to you. I

Author:Too damn bad your name's Anti-Virus

AV: As I was saying. I see you met my

AV: enforcers.
#if ak47 then killed

AV: I observed that they were just too

AV:strong for you to handle. I have my

AV:current #1 enforcer here to help me

AV:finish you off!
AV:Sadly they were killed. No matter! This

AV:enforcer is my #1 enforcer. There's no

AV:chance of defeating it! Although you do

AV:have an AK-47.
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The next fight is set up with this split dialog depending on whether or not the player has an AK-47. Again, despite having bought one, I did not get the dialog indicating that I had.


Needless to say, the fight is just like the one with the two guards. It also suffers from the bug of beating one enemy causing the fight to be considered a win.


And then this happens. It's really funny because the exact same bug happens after this fight in the original game. The dialog has an unknown character speak and so the line of code begins "???:" ZZT sees the first character is a question mark and thinks it's a shortcut for #try, a command to move in a direction but only if not blocked in that direction.


Upon ?ZAP cheating my way to the exit, an invisible object to prevent such a thing is set off, spamming a message about cheating and giving me a game over. Thankfully it's defeated by just zapping around to the passage from the side rather than through the intended route.

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The original game's teleporter system means you always know where you're heading after finishing an area, but the special edition just flings you from one place to the next. The world map system really should've stayed in place just for the sake of pacing.

The town is of course so destroyed that I didn't even have to draw anything. How fortunate. It's a shame too since the original game's ruined town is at least a bit visually interesting with messes of breakable walls as crumbled buildings. This is such a cop-out of having to attempt any graphics that are the least bit complex.

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Jen:Joe! You're alive!

You:How did you survive?

Jen:When the attack came I had evacuated

Jen:to the pawn shop. The owner tried to

Jen:protect me when the attack came, but..

You:he died...

You:How did you escape from there.

Jen:The anger from them destroying

Jen:everything I ever had. I felt a sudden

Jen:adreneline boost after being attacked.

Jen:I fired the pawn shop owners shotgun

Jen:at everything that moved.

You:We have to stop Anti-Virus!


You:He's the one that started all this,but

You:we're going to finish it! Do you know

You:where they went?

Jen:Oh my god!


Jen:There he is! The general!
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Oh by the way the protagonist has a girl who is a friend but not a girlfriend named Jen and he is very glad to see this woman who has never been mentioned in the slightest. I'm thankful she didn't get turned into a damsel in distress character and instead has a personality more aligned with the Doom marine's. Her appearance is just as abrupt in the original, but the original at least has a cast of characters on its title screen. The special edition really offers zero reason for her to exist until it decides she should now.

Correction: If the victory dialog triggered properly, Jen being the sole survivor of the town would have been revealed and been the motivation for the player to go there.

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General:What? Somebody dares to live?

You:And you are?

General:I am General Megabyte of the army

General:of Anti-Virus! You two are now my

General:prisoners of war!

Jen:Not if we can help it!
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The evil General Megabyte shows up for the next boss battle. Jen gets to fight with a shotgun of her own, but is unable to use other weapons. The general has so much health that the bar wraps around to a second line, but with two attacks per round, the fights only get faster. They're also even easier, as now the enemy will randomly pick a target as well, so damage will get spread between each character as opposing to choosing a target and focusing on them.


Eventually the general uses this special magic attack and blue particles appear. Then the particles don't go away. Since the code hangs here, nobody takes any damage from the attack. It also prevents the message revealing the attack being called "Windows blue screen of death!" from showing up, which is an absolute shame.

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Jen means business. Again, the next location to visit is revealed. Alas it's all a trick!


The red plains are just like the Yass plains, except red. The enemies make themselves invincible and so the player must run.


This game was so obviously not playtested at all, it's kind of incredible to me. You're supposed to get a bunch of dialog with that very hard to see red smiley face on the far right all while fighting these guards that are supposed to be vulnerable.

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???: Go on destroy those guards. I have

???: more of them.

Jen:Where's Anti-Virus?

???:You actually trusted General Megabyte?

Jen:So who are you Anti-Virus's little sis

???:Grr.... I am his older sister!

You:I'm fighting here could you make it

You:Qui Woah! That was close.

Jen: So what's your name?

MV: Majestic Virus!

Jen: Wasn't it Melissa Virus?

MV: Yes, but that's an older PC virus.

MV: Majestic is much more recent.

Jen:Oh, so lemme guess you'll be vice-pres

Jen:When AV takes over?


#change white object fake

You:There all gone!

MV: You two will be going next!

Jen: Joe I want to stop her myself!

You:What are you nuts?

Jen: Please?


All Right

Not on your life

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Because Jen is a girl, she wants to fight the other girl by herself. They are women. The player gets the agency here and decides if Jen will fight alone or not, and your answer determines if the boss fight is 2v1 or 1v1.


I opted to let her fight alone since I was sure there'd be some long term benefit for a more difficult fight, and it's not like the fights in this game are difficult to begin with.


The fight plays out just like any other, but there doesn't seem to be any reward for doing things the hard way. It turns out that if you have an AK-47, you don't get a reward? However if you don't, you're given the laser weapon.

The game is just trying to punish me at this point.


Hey, we're in the Forest of ZZT now. There was nothing in the game telling us to go here. No bugged dialog or anything. The forest is just a big open area filled with the same enemies seen throughout the rest of the game.


For whatever reason, they seem to actually die properly! Whichever one is in charge of opening the door get caught by friendly fire, so even though the objects can be killed for once, it's still ideal to just run past them.

Look at all that blood!

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Melissa virus from the original game makes an appearance to try and show that she's not obsolete. This is the start of what's pretty much a boss rush, it's RPG battles all the way down from here.

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There is absolutely nothing to note about the fight.

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You:I can hear them. There's alot.

Jen:Why are they all there?

AV: Viruses Virii settle down!

Virus:Why are we here?

AV: Be patient my boy.

Gen. MB: As you can see these boxes are

Gen. MB: full of power.

Virus 2:You mean...

AV: Yes! Hardrives! Our memory can be

AV:doubled! Tripled! or even Quadrupled!!

MV:But before we hand out these things you

MV:must take the vow to join Anti-Virus's

MV:army! General Megabyte may you recite

Gen MB: I solemnly swear

Viruses:I solemnly swear

Gen MB: To do my best

Viruses:To do my best

Gen MB: To conquer the galaxy with Anti-Vi

Viruses:To conquer the galaxy with Anti-Vi

Gen MB: There's and intruder somewhere! I

Gen MB: hear him!
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Missed opportunity to have the viruses start repeat the intruder line.

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Gen. MB:You two have interfered for far
too long!

Gen. MB:Anti-Virus a hard drive please.

Gen: How big was that hard drive anyways?

AV: Uh, the box says 12 Gigabytes.

Gen GB: You've beaten me as Megabyte but
can you handle me as

β–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–“β–“β–“β–’β–’β–‘β–‘ GENERAL GIGABYTE β–‘β–‘β–’β–’β–“β–“β–“β–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆβ–ˆ
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This game came out in 2002, a 12 gig drive was pretty modest by that point. I mean the game explicitly points out your own computer's drive being 40 gigs.

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Gigabyte keeps his broken blue screen attack. The only thing different is his health. You can see just how little damage he managed to inflict despite it.


The computer references don't stop.


You then go up against Majestic for the final time. She has less health than the general. As a girl, she is not strong like man.


In a sudden twist, the music selection that was mentioned in the very first battle finally shows up for the penultimate one. All the songs are taken from WiL's "#play" without permission (but with credit at least).

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MV: Not again!

You: Now it's time for Anti-Virus!

MV: He must really hate his first and last

You: Huh?

Jen: Is he Mr. Anti-Virus?

MV:Yeah I'm really Majestic Anti-Virus.

Jen and You:Then what's his first name?

MAV: Norton.

You:Norton Anti-Virus? Now is it just me
or isn't that a virus detection program?

MAV:He's been corrupted.

Jen: That explains why he's so corrupt.

Norton: If they die and your restored
Majestic you won't be vice ruler you'll be
a pathetic secretary!!!!!

MAV:Think I care? Norton?

Norton: Stop calling me that! Instead I
banish you to the recycle bin!!!!


NAV: I suppose NAV: beats Norton: now is
the final battle!!
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Be cautious of which anti-virus software you run.


The final fight of the game is just. like. every. single. other. fight.


Again there's no actual threat due to the extremely generous delay between Anti-Virus's attacks. What is worth noting, is that the last ricochet is positioned incorrectly. The bullet will bounce back and forth instead of being deflected upwards, resulting in the final battle being unwinnable without cheating! A fitting end.


Just like the original, the game sets itself up for a sequel which never happened. The credits don't mention WiL's music at all.


The testers text is facetious at least, or at least the typos are.

GGI is Global Gaming Interactive, the company name my local friends and I decided we'd release our ZZT games under.


The game closes with ads for other games (for the ZZT clone ZIG). Sam Spade's selling point being more Virus 302 SE battles is not a particularly good one.

Final Thoughts

I'm still genuinely in shock at just how bad this is. I can maybe believe at 13 thinking "This is definitely gameplay people will love", but I can't get over how incredibly buggy it is, and how many of those bugs would have been caught if there was any testing. This playthrough must actually have been the first time I actually played the game all the way through.

The graphics are a step up only in the sense that there are more colors to use rather than using color effectively. The game's action sequences, even if most of them weren't broken to pieces, would be just as uninspired as the old game's lions and tigers. The RPG battles are too easy, too slow, and too repetitive.

The story was nonsense in the original, and continues be the same. The only real changes are to some characters names to make them more timely. Characters in the special edition still show up out of nowhere, have relations which the player is expected to take on blind faith, and have no real motivation beyond following the script of the original game.

I still think for me personally, this is a really neat time capsule. The fact that it's a remake rather than an original creation makes it a great way to compare what I thought a good ZZT game was at 13. The answer appears to be skyline fades, RPG battles with limit breaks, and obtuse puzzles and secrets.

This may be the worst special edition since Star Wars (ha ha), but it's not taking something good and egotistically saying "But I can do better this time". It's taking what is still very bad source material, and somehow managing to turn it into something even less appealing. I don't believe anybody has ever actually played this, and I hope they haven't. It's just plain unplayable.

Clearly I need to remake it again. I can do better this time...

The Closer Looks series is a part of the Worlds of ZZT project, committed to the preservation of ZZT and its history.
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