Home > 1, Retro Fun > FLASHBACKS Vol. 2: The OMEGA Virus


Here is the second installment of Flashbacks, where I take a nostalgic look at some of the stuff that I enjoyed over the course of my childhood.  To see volume one scroll down or simply click this link. I apologize for the goofy text between the images.  Apparently putting it below them was too complicated for this site…..

It’s a shame board games aren’t nearly as popular in the U.S. as they once were (they’re still played regularly in places like Germany).  I really don’t know why.  Maybe it’s because so much of our entertainment is electronic today, but it’s rare that you can get 3 or 4 friends together to play.  Thankfully my friends and I enjoyed a lot of board games back in the day so I figured an article devoted to one was a no-brainer.

The OMEGA Virus was released around 1992 and it was perfect timing for me since I was still only about 11 years old but had grown out of the simplistic games my parents used to play with me when I was younger.  I was looking for something a bit more complicated and strategic, and this game fit the bill pretty well.  It also has a sci-fi theme to it, which was another thing I was developing a liking for at the time.

In the game, up to four players take control of astronaut-like dudes who are aboard a space station that’s been taken over by the OMEGA virus.  The virus must be destroyed of course, however it’s unbeknownst to the player exactly in which room it’s stemming from and a time limit is involved.  What you’ll have to do is search each room, which is coded by a three digit number, in order to find the virus and also the equipment necessary to destroy it.

Every time you enter a room you actually punch the room number into the battery operated console located in the middle of the playing surface and the scary voice will tell you what’s in there.  It will also spit out a random code which each player inputs at the start of the game.  No one knows anyone else’s code, so that’s how the virus is located.  If you hear your code said aloud by the virus’ voice you alone know where it’s located and can head over there once you have all the necessary equipment.

Things get more and more interesting as more equipment is gained and the clock begins to tick down.  Somewhere in the middle of the game you’ll be hunting for that last piece of equipment or the virus itself, but you have to be quick.  At certain times the virus shuts down certain sections of the game board and you’re not able to go there anymore.  One way to make fast progress is to find a droid.  Each player has one hidden somewhere on the station and it can basically be used as a second search party, although it can’t pick up items so if it reveals something you’ll have to make your way over to physically pick it up.

In case you’re wondering, the way you keep track of what stuff is in which room is by writing it down on a handy notepad.  Each one has a list of every room so you don’t have to remember where everything is located for when you come back later.  It’s also worth noting that players aren’t exactly working together and there are ways to sabotage each other, but keep in mind if no one succeeds nobody wins and the virus prevails.

One of the downsides to this game is that there are quite a lot of pieces.  You can avoid a lot of hassle simply by keeping all the equipment pieces in the box until you’ve discovered them in-game as opposed to putting every single one on the little racks the game provides.  Also, if you’re like me and you’ve had the game for over 15 years now there’s a chance the voice aspect of the game will start to warble or die out.  The voice is incredibly annoying unless you’re a 12 year old boy (then it’s awesome and scary) but you can’t play the game without it.

In all honesty I can say with conviction that I would still play this game today.  There’s not a ton of strategy but the race against the clock gameplay is something different and works well.  It’s certainly not for adults but it’s also not a game that gets easier as you get older.  It’s all about uncovering clues as fast as you can and maybe a little foul play if you have time.  It’s a great game for pre-teens and teens alike, and if you find yourself playing it as an adult you won’t feel patronized even though it’s a bit on the straight forward side.

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