In the beginning there was the box. And the box was without form and
void of software; and darkness was upon the face of the computer
screens. And the challenge of developing a truly cool game faced the
programmers. And the programmers said "Let there be software". And the
marketing dudes saw the software, that it was awesome: and they said
let us give this software a unique box. A box that will not fitteth upon
the consumers shelf. A box that will truly taketh up a lot of space at
the retail stores. A box that cometh to a point, but not quite. And we
shall call this software Spectre VR.
OK, you guessed it, I’m writing this review on Sunday. Spectre VR
(hence referred to as just SVR) is a game reminiscent of Battle Zone.
The not-so-exciting goal of SVR is to plow down flags located
throughout the arena before proceeding to the next level. In the mean
time, you have to preserve your own existence while toasting the
various enemies that are attempting to prevent you from reaching your
goal. To accomplish this task, you pilot this bulky tank like vehicle,
that can be customized with emphasis on ammo, strength, or speed,
through a virtual (yea right) 3D polygonal world. You score points for
blasting enemies and avoiding their shots, with additional points for
beating the clock. As you proceed through the levels, things become
increasingly more difficult with new enemy types appearing every so
often. So, you must be saying to yourself this sounds arcade-ish and
boring. Well, to tell you the truth, it is. But don’t despair! Although
this game has limited single player appeal, its beauty is in
Multiplayer you say? Multiplayer I say! I originally purchased SVR after
signing up with an Internet provider that has Game Connection(TM)
access. Through the Game Connection, you can play SVR with up to 8 other
players. This may not seem that incredible, but you have to realize that
SVR has been around since 1993, and its predecessor, Spectre has been
around a lot longer. Also, realize that this is all possible over a 14.4
kbps modem! Try playing 8 player Descent or 6 player Falcon 3.0 over a
The fun starts in the arena. The contestants duke it out until a certain
number of kills are reached or for a specified length of time. You have
a primary projectile weapon as well as secondary weapons including smart
missiles, seekers, scattershot, proximity mines, spinners, impulse bursts
and cyberblasters. The enemies include rovers, warriors, radar cloaked
robots, optically cloaked robots, sliders, vertical area mines, turrets,
hunter killers, orbiters, cybermud, intelligent walls, bouncers and at
higher levels, enemies of differing abilities (none of which is half as
fun as blowing up your best friend .
But the fun doesn’t stop in the arena. In addition, the following
scenarios support up to 8 players:
The object is to collect all the flags A – F. The first person to do
this gets a match point. As in arena, you play to a certain number of
points or for a specified time. The clincher is when you kill someone
you get all their flags. Personally, I like to watch and see who is
getting the flags, setup an ambush, and steal their flags.
The SVR manual refers to this as capture-the-flag with missile
weapons. Two teams have bases at opposite sides of the arena and you
get points for destroying the other guys base. You accomplish this by
bumping into it with your tank.
Tag, your IT! The players who are not it score points by avoiding the
player who is it. Basically, if you don’t get tagged you win.
Tag, I’m IT. This time you score points while you are IT. He who stays
it the longest is bound to win.
One, two, three gentlemen start your engines. Score points by ramming
head on into the other players.
The SVR manual refers to this as Tic Tac Toe with cannons in
cyberspace. In this scenario, the arena is split up into a 4 x 4 grid
with a flag in the middle of each square. The square becomes yours when
you capture the flag. Get a complete row either diagonally, vertically,
or horizontally and you score a point. This is not as easy as it sounds,
however, since squares can be recaptured at any time by members of the
Ram your tank head first into a cyber ball in an attempt to drive it
into a goal located in the center of the arena. An interesting twist is
the ability to cause the other player to shoot before he is ready. This
is not without a price as you loose 1 point for doing this.
Pele eat your heart out!. This time the goals are at opposite sides of
the arena and you score points by ramming the ball into the opposing
Wheew! That’s a lot of ways to play multiplayer, and to tell you the
truth, I have not tried them all. My favorite, so far, is deluxe flag
rally. The difference between this and regular flag rally is your
secondary weapon changes with each flag you get. Also, many of the
scenarios I mentioned above have variations that will keep you playing
for hours on end. So, now that I have peaked your interest, go and buy a
copy of SVR. You will find it in the bargain bin at most software stores
ranging from $10 to $20. Keep in mind that this is the DOS version and
not the Enhanced Windows CD version. I originally purchased the CD
version but was unsuccessful in playing over the Game Connection because
Windows has this nasty habit of monitoring its serial ports. This
resulted in the modem carrier dropping whenever I would leave the
program I dialed into the BBS with and tried to pull up SVR. There may
be a way around this, but since the disk version of SVR was $30 cheaper
than the enhanced CD version, I just took it back and got the disk
The requirements for SVR are minimal. It will play on a 16 MHz 286 or
better with 640k of RAM and 3 MB free on your hard drive. It uses
320×200 VGA graphics and supports Sound Blaster and AdLib sound cards. I
play on a DX2-80 with 12MB RAM and a Sound Blaster AWE32 sound card.
Needless to say, I had no problems installing and running SVR. It worked
out of the box with no changes to my config.sys or autoexec.bat. It is
playable with both a joystick or keyboard, and IMHO I saw no advantages
to the joystick over the keyboard. This may be because Spectre was
originally developed for a Mac and keyboard play.
Copyright © 1995 Trey Murff for infoMedia. All rights reserved worldwide.
386/16 or better
4 MB RAM
Mouse or joystick
MS-DOS 5.0 or better