Virgin Mastertronic

Status: Full Game, Findability: 5/5

Another puzzle game, but a rather intriguing one… “Infection” was a game to be released by Virgin Mastertronic back in 1989, but the game never got a release although it was completed on Amiga, Spectrum, Amstrad CPC, PC, C64 and Atari ST.

It is thanks to and the hard work of Alain Beyrand with his excellent article that we can tell the story of what happened…

The game was originally started by Wise Owl Software in 1988 by Craig Galley and David Crummack who came up with the concept which was a twist on Reversi. Everything got quite far, although the AI was a bit limited to start with. “Infection” was initially being produced for the Amiga, ST and C64 only. The game was primarly programmed on the Amiga according to Craig, and regularly ported to the ST and C64 platforms. However things were to change…

The following year in 1989, Virgin bought all the rights for Infection for a cash sum from two of the Wise Owl guys due to the likelihood of the coin op version, and oversaw the development of Infection. The project gained a project manager in the form of Andrew Wright. Andrew arranged firstly to get some improved AI produced by internal developers, which Craig and David then added in. Additionally Andrew contracted David Whittaker to produce the music for all the conversions. Another 3 additional platforms were also added to the conversion list in the shape of the PC, Spectrum and Amstrad (But not to be handled by Craig or David and branched out to other developers).

Although Virgin liked the game and were excited by their budget game prospect, they felt that with a coin op version in the wings a budget version would’ve devalued a possible coin op version. The budget version was pulled just before release much to Andrews (Wright) dismay as he had lashed out his budget on great music, artwork, everything was ready to go.

In 1990 Virgin later struck a deal with 7Up and recycled the Infection game into a new title called “Spot”. Additionally the game was also licenced to Leland Corporation, whom took the game and brought out an arcade version called “Ataxx”, which was very faithful to the Amiga original. Rights these days to the game are a bit confused as a result. Sadly it meant that the original “Infection” title was laid to rest.

As years went on the Amiga, Spectrum and CPC versions surfaced onto the internet. The Z80 versions only surfaced thanks to their programmer Mark Incley. However, the C64 version was nowhere to be seen.

We got in touch with David Crummack who sadly didn’t have anything of the C64 conversion, but told us where we could find Craig. After a bit of hunting around, we managed to find Craig and we were stunned to learn that he had backed up all his disks some years back. He had helped preserve the Amiga version, but also found the C64 source code too. However, he didn’t know at the time how to get it compiled and left it. After GTW got in touch, we arranged to fix it up, but Craig surprised us by getting nostalgic and having a play again with the source. He managed to compile it again, and so here it is in its full complete glory!

“Infection” on the C64 is a great game, and certainly a lot more polished than “Spot”. It features some great presentation, a 4 player mode, level editor and a previously unheard tune by David Whittaker! (A huge bonus for HVSC!) … Certainly this would have done well had it been released.

Thanks to Christopher Drum, we learn that Graeme Devine, developer of 7-Up Spot, also included the game as a microscope puzzle in The 7th Guest. The puzzle was notoriously difficult, so it was removed from the iOS release, but then it was released as a standalone game called 7th Guest: Infection, which would bring everything full circle to the original name.

It’s a shame it never quite made it in its original form, but at least it has now been fully preserved and people can enjoy it at last… only 20 years late I guess! :)

This is certainly another great finding for 2009!… Enjoy!

Case closed…

Contributions: Jason Kelk, Alain Beyrand, Dave Crummack, Craig Galley, Mark Incley, Ian Mathais, Andrew Fisher, Christopher Drum

Supporting content

Available downloads

Update history

16/01/24 – Fact added about inclusion in 7th Guest.

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