Indie Developer Releases Award-Winning Game: Virus Strike

Neil Ferguson, an independent game developer from London, has released his first game.  Virus Strike is a physics-based puzzle game that draws on elements of Tetris, Bejeweled and Flight Control, to challenge players to destroy viruses.  The app recently won first prize in the iPhone & iPad Game App Challenge, sponsored by Wiley Publishing, Inc, the publishers of the “For Dummies” series of books, including the book iPhone Application Development For Dummies by Neal Goldstein (one of the judges for the contest).  It is quite an accomplishment for a first release developed on “zero budget” from a programmer with ”zero experience developing iPhone games.”

Read on for my review and watch for an upcoming interview with the developer.

The different colored viruses are represented by softly studded balls (which now haunt my dreams).  They fall from the top of the screen one at a time and the player must direct them as they fall through the use of the iDevice’s accelerometer and/or by drawing lines. 

Instead of paths to follow, the virus objects physically interact with the lines as barriers and slopes, similar to the oldie but goodie Trace.  By tilting the iDevice, the virus balls will roll faster in the desired direction.  Lines can be used to push, direct or contain the viruses. 

Color-coordinated antibodies are also released and the player must eradicate the viruses by guiding the antibodies to the chains of viruses of the same color.  If an antibody touches a virus of a different color, that virus or chain of similarly colored viruses multiplies.  As the game progresses, the viruses fall faster, and super-antibodies appear, allowing players to eradicate viruses of a single color completely from the screen.  The game ends if the player fails to keep the viruses from saturating the screen beyond the deadline.

The game is deceptively simple.  In the early stages, the balls come slowly, but as the wall of viruses builds – and drop with more frequency – so does the excitement.  Also, as I became more familiar and experienced using the lines, more strategy and creativity was rewarded.  The lines can be used to encircle the viruses, push them at cruicial moments, or stall their descent.  Be careful though, as the next falling virus can come into contact with the motionless antibody, resulting in an explosion of unwanted mutation.

The programmer used free resources for the sound effects, with the destruction of viruses indicated by a satisfying popping sound.  Mercifully, there are no annoying music earworms.

The app is compatible with the iPod, iPhone and iPad and requires iOS 3.0 or later.  It currently has a rating of 3 1/2 stars on iTunes.  It costs 99 cents.

You can learn more about the game at the Virus Strike website, which includes a tutorial video.

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