Vaxine (U. S. Gold) Review | ST Format - Everygamegoing

ST Format

By U. S. Gold
Atari ST

Published in ST Format #15


Purge the body of invading cells in The Assembly Line's manic new thriller. Cellular warfare has never been so frantic, as virus killer Mark Higham protects the body beautiful and stops the body count getting any higher...

The body's at war with itself; a virus is invading human cells and life is at threat. You could be forgiven for thinking this is the basis of yet another government-sponsored public health warning, but it's actually the plot of The Assembly Line's innovative new game.

Vaxine is set inside the body and played out on a special grid. Using either the mouse or joystick you move around the grid at super-fast speeds protecting your own cells by blasting enemy cells represented as coloured balls. The enemy cells move around the grid attaching themselves to your cells and destroying them.

To blast the cells you come equipped with your own coloured balls and your job is to blast the right enemy with the right colour.

Since the enemy cells bounce up and down and dart around the grid, it's very difficult living yourself up to zap them.

At the start of each fifth level you're presented with a special bonus weapons section. A ring of stars revolves and if you blast the stars you collect new weaponry.

As the levels become more difficult the enemy cells start to attack your base cells more viciously. They also begin to group together, attached by a long wire. Destroying these mutanting cells is incredibly tricky because each individual cell not only has to be blasted by the correct colour healthy cell, but has to be shot in the correct sequence.


This is one of the first games to make use of the superior hardware of the STE. The introduction screen enables you to log into the STE option and suddenly a miraculous range of arresting sound effects and kaleidoscopic graphics grab hold of your senses and refuse to let go.

Even if you don't own an STE, the visuals in Vaxine are unique - there's just nothing out there to touch them!

Sound effects are equally impressive. There are three sampled tunes that warn you when your cells are under attack, when new enemy cells materialise and when cells join together. A short musical burst marks the start of each level and another sampled tune greets you each time you step through a portal.


The effects are out of this world and easily seduce you into thinking Vaxine is a wonderful new concept, but after you've played it for a while you begin to realise that however original the concept might be, the gameplay just isn't up to Format Gold standards.

This is partly due to the movement of the cells. In order to whack the living daylights out of an offending cell not only do you need to slow down and follow it, you also need to time your shot exactly right to hit it. If you move the mouse left or right in the middle of this process you're likely to see your ball sail off harmlessly towards the horizon. Once you've mastered this tricky technique, then you can really get stuck into ridding the body of the offending viruses.

Vaxine is a life-or-death addictive challenge. Purifying the body is a near narcissistic twist on the save-the-world scenario and the absorbing visuals alone are going to keep you coming back to Vaxine over and over again.

Your Body Is In Terrible Danger!

Life's tough, especially when a battle for supremacy is going on inside your body. To survive you need a strong will and an over-active trigger finger. Here are the three main elements of the game worth watching out for.

The enemy cells move around the grid looking for other enemy cells to bond with. They seek out and destroy your base cells in an effort to replicate. Try and destroy them before they join together - otherwise they become a formidable opponent.

In later levels you also need to confront Hatchers and Splitters. Hatchers appear as three differently coloured balls bonded together and when one is shot it splits into a mass of individual balls. Splitters race frantically round the grid, throwing out new balls sporadically.

The portal is a black slab which emerges out of the ground. You can line yourself up to move through a portal and their effect is to freeze the action. This gives you time to assess your damage and work out which cells you should be attacking. When you fire the action starts up again, but this time the enemy cells are more vicious.

Trojan cells are special cells which attach themselves to the enemy cells and destroy them. You fire Trojan cells by holding down on the right mouse button and clicking with the left. With each click you send out a new cell, attached to the last by a long wire. These cells then disappear into the grid and seek out enemy cells of the same colour. When they find a single enemy they attach themselves to it and wait for the cell to turn into a cluster of new cells. Then each cell in the Trojan string destroys one of the cells. If you fire a string of six Trojan cells and they meet up with a cluster of four cells, two of your Trojan cells are wasted. On the other hand, if you don't fire enough, the enemy cells can still go about their business.

Mark Higham

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