Virus 302 Special Edition

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Closer Look: Virus 302: Special Edition

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

Authored By: Dr. Dos
Published: Dec 19, 2016
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Where can I get Virus 302 Special Edition?

Virus 302 Special Edition is available on the Museum of ZZT as well as playable in browser via


Virus 302 Special Edition

By: Dr. Dos
Published Under: Global Gaming Interactive
Released: Apr. 6, 2002

For those of you just joining us, earlier this month I streamed Virus 302, my first released ZZT game. I made it when I was 10 and being 10 was not exactly experienced in good game design. It was a very bad game with a very nonsensical plot, but good for some laughs in a modern context.

My original plan was to stream the Special Edition as well, but I opted to write about it directly instead. V302:SE was made when I was 13 years old. I knew it would still be bad, and figured I'd be harsher on it since I would imagine my abilities with ZZT would have improved a lot, and I'd have a better sense of design sensibilities, but I have to say, it's honestly worse. Like, I genuinely question what made me think I should release it. There's plenty to go over here, and you may want to compare and contrast against the original Virus 302 using the Museum file viewer.

Or if you're really feeling daring, the live playthrough is on YouTube .


The game's title screen is a mess to begin with. Only half of the "V" has depth added to it for some reason, and the other letters look very blocky as the shading runs into more of the letters themselves.

The "2" mostly looks like a "2" though, which is more than can be said about the original game.


The game itself opens just as the original with the player in his house. It looks a lot nicer visually, using a generic horizon fade for the background, and liberal use of STK graphics.

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This is the first example of quality writing the game offers.


The computer lets you do all the things one would do on an actual computer in 2002. Read its system specs, go on the Internet, or play ZZT.


Why, it even has the specs of the family computer the game was created on.

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You can use the Internet to instantly learn a skill. This is mandatory as you can't leave your house until you've eaten some food.


And of course ZZT works flawlessly.


*joke about vegetables in the toilet*


I'm not sure if I was going for humor here or if I was just too lazy to add in some more furniture. Judging by the general effort displayed throughout V302:SE, I'm guessing the latter.


This self-deprecation feels like a tumblr meme post. Once you eat food, the white walls around your door go away and the player is free to leave the house.

Thankfully, if you don't know how to cook there's just no option to make something to eat. This game would've been made when I was addicted to The Sims, so I'm surprised you can't burn the house down and die.


Outside, in the Town of ZZT, there's another horizon gradient and buildings placed in such a way that they appear to be floating in the air given the perspective.

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The original game had you learn about the world being in danger from a news report on the tv. Instead it's just another story in the newspaper. This is all the motivation you really get, and the player character openly admits that he's on his quest just for the sake of there being a game.


Without those car keys though, the player won't be going anywhere anytime soon. There's another building that can be entered at least, though it's blocked by two guards.




"Wow, the mayor's house sure looks familiar!" I thought to myself while playing this.


It's weird how I'm on the same wavelength with myself. All the doors in the mayor's house are locked (even the bathroom!), forcing the player to speak with the mayor.

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"Good artists borrow. Great artists steal."


The player is then taken to a unique dueling minigame where you and the mayor take turns slapping each other with gloves.

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The engine is pretty simple, the arrows move back and forth and you press a button to stop it and see how much damage you do. The mayor does the same thing. If you manage to hit for 6 damage the text appears in colors to signify the extra damage.

The arrow object moves fast, but there's a lot of room for error with how much health you have.

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The player is dumped back into the mayor's house, and this time can unlock the door to the closet and pick up a pistol and some ammo. This sounds useful, but without any car keys there's no way to leave town.



Ok, I'll accept using some tiny part of a pistol as a makeshift lockpick to break into your car, but that won't cut it for the ignition.


So here's the world map! The original game has a "teleportation station" which was just a series of passages, so even this work of art is a step up, but I'm amazed that most of the locations haven't even attempted to be drawn.

The player is given a bit of freedom as for where to go:

  1. Pawn Shop
  2. Town
  3. Cavern
  4. Old Yass Plains
  5. Security Booth
  6. Clock Tower

And you couldn't tell what any of those places were just by looking on the world map.


My first stop is the Pawn shop, where to save objects I used blink wall rays to make the windows. Except then in the center I used an actual blink wall instead of an object, so parts of the windows flicker on and off.


The pawn shop is closed though, so it's immediately time to turn around.


Speaking of time, the clock tower is this ugly brown building. It's also one of those digital clock towers you may have heard of.


There's a small carving that gives the player five gems, so there's some benefit in coming here at least.

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The Old Yass Plains are just that, the Yass Plains section from the old game. I don't know why I kept this content.

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There are two paths the player needs to take if they want to get an optional bonus. The south path is full of ruffians.

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The good ruffian gives some supplies, and one of the red keys to get the area's reward if they're willing to put up with this.


The north path contains lions, and this "troll" who just moves around and shoots randomly. You might think it's a dead end, but if you go north on exactly one tile, you can proceed to the next room! Wow!


That next room is a maze. In the original game the player has to navigate along an invisible path of fake walls, but here an object mercifully reveals the path automatically. So clearly I was aware that this sort of thing was not fun, but kept it in anyway.

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So here the player reaches the boss of the Old Yass Plains, the Anti-Virus Hologram. Except the player has no idea who this character is, unlike in the original where by now they'd know him as the villain.

He runs around and shoots, and sometimes throws stars, but thankfully not so many that the fight becomes impossible.


The reward for the area is a bunch of gems, but the true benefit is that finishing the plains advances the game's clock.


Now that lunchtime is over, the pawn shop is open. Or, at least it would be, but the code tries to jump to a label called "unlock". Unlock is a reserved word in ZZT-OOP since it's a command, and so the game never jumps to the label and I had to cheat to enter.


The pawn shop, like all pawn shops is completely empty of stock on the floor, but loaded with bushes and a drinking fountain.


I don't recall which game I got this drinking fountain mechanic from, but I liked it then and I liked it now. You can drink as often as you like, and you gain one health for doing so, but it pops up a message requiring the player to have to hit enter to be able to drink again. If the player wants to invest time in getting free health, they can.

Well, it's a good mechanic as a little easter egg sort of thing. If the player finds themselves running into a drinking fountain in order to have a chance at survival, it would be pretty garbage to rely on.

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The pawn shop only sells a shotgun and a weapon permit. You can't just buy an AK-47 in this world. I pick up both of them because better weapons can only make the game go faster. Afterwards, it's back to the world map.

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The security checkpoint continues the trend of being a place to go without anything to do. The only way in is if you work there, which the play does not.

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Good lord this is some "written by a 13 year old" writing if I ever saw it. Suddenly we have this very serious tone about this very scary cave. This board is probably the game's high point graphically.




The cavern is a large room full of bat enemies that wander aimlessly and will bite you if you get next to them. The gameplay is really straightforward here and the overwrought cave intro is pretty funny in comparison to the actual cave being just a gray room with some bats.


But wait! Up ahead on the next board, it's the mark of a true ZZTer, it's an RPG battle!


Despite thinking these engines were the coolest as a kid, I immediately downplay it as a standard affair, and mention how you might get bored so there's some music to listen to. First off, yes, you will get bored during all the many RPG battles this game has. Secondly, there is no music to choose from.


There's a lot to see on this board. It's heavily inspired by Final Fantasy 7, including limit breaks. The timers for you and the enemy slowly fill up. When yours fills, a menu pops up letting you choose if you want to attack, use an item, or defend. There is no reason to ever defend, and the player won't have any healing items available at this point, so instead you just pick attack until you win.

The screen shows your weapon, and reveals all four that are available at some point in the game. That star in the middle surrounded by water, boulders, and fake walls, is the system's random number generator. When you roll for damage, the object in the center shoots in a random direction and hits one of the objects which represent 1, 2, 3, or 4 damage.

Lastly is the limit break meter, which should fill as you take damage like in Final Fantasy 7, but in nearly all of this games battles, doesn't actually fill up ever.


The reward for defeating the spider is some gems, and a uniform you steal from a corpse so it'll look like you work at the security booth.


Now disguised, the guards let the player go inside.

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The checkpoint is pretty empty, with nothing more than a red carpet. A helpful computer monitor informs the player that there will be instant game overs coming up if they aren't careful.

The player also got the guard's ID card from the cave, but has yet to read the data off of it. The reality is that you're supposed to go back to the player's house and use the scanner to get the information needed. Of course, the passage to leave the security checkpoint mistakenly links to the same board so I'm stuck here and had to look up the information in the editor!


Everybody's getting their ID cards renewed, and none of them noticed this one desk with no line at all. Heck, some are even waiting at empty desks.

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All of the answers are directly given to the player if they do figure out how to scan the ID card. The alternate ID is listed as "Square Clock Wise", which I thought was a trick to mean the answer is "78963214" (a square on a keyboard's number pad), but the game actually accepts both the number and the phrase as correct answers.


With the ID card updated, the player can explore the rest of the checkpoint, which consists of an empty room with stairs. Another guard believes you to be one of the generals, and that they're under attack.

So far this game has had a dueling engine, a traditional RPG battle engine, so I guess some sort of minigame where you direct a bunch of troops in order to win a battle would be reasonable to expect. Maybe set tactics or just placement, and do so in a way that the enemy forces get outgunned.


Ha ha just kidding. You win! Programming is hard.

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