Hasbro has a long history of releasing electronic toys. In 2001, with Ocean Unicorn Technology Limited, their long-time partner, they developed an electronic game that was set to ride on the Tamagotchi and Pokémon wave, but with a twist. The concept was to create a single player game where you could grow your one creature called an infector and challenge other owners of POX to battle using radio-frequency technology that could reach over 9 meters (30 feet). The game’s radio-frequency technology detects the presence of any other unit within 9 meters and then automatically attacks, with the victor claiming the loser’s body parts and adding them to his library. Such confrontations can take place even when the player has the game stashed in a backpack, school locker or desk.
Based on this “infector” concept, Hasbro decided to go with a viral marketing campaign to promote the product. Instead of a traditional marketing campaign, Hasbro choose to launch the game imminently in Chicago as a test market. Hasbro identified 1,600 “alpha childrens” that were natural leaders in their schools. Hasbro gave each of them a free POX, along with 10 more to hand out to their friends. Almost overnight, 17,600 free POX units were circulating in the Chicago schools. Schools closest to retailers where other kids could buy the games were targeted most heavily.
Following this patient zero release, P-O-X were made available in retail stores across Chicago. Within months, 900 of Chicago’s 1,400 schools were “infected” with POX. By the end of the summer, Hasbro had sold 1 million POX units, and was about to launch a nationwide “Conquer the World With Pox” campaign in collaboration with Toys R Us. Originally, a second phase of the launch had been planned for 9 additional cities in the United States beyond Chicago, but the launch schedule was pushed forward due to the strong support from Hasbro and Toys R’ Us executives. P-O-X was set to be released nationwide on September 23, 2001.
With the terrorist attacks of 9/11 and subsequent anthrax attacks that occurred in the United States over the course of several weeks beginning on September 18, 2001, raised considerable doubts in the Toys’ R’ Us executive team about the viability of launching such a game about. After some focus groups with parents, they indicated that they would be uncomfortable with their children playing P-O-X. The game was then cancelled and never seen an nationwide released, with the renaming units being pulled out of the Chicago store.
The console came in 3 versions: Cycro, Plasmo and Spino. Each variant having their own advantages. In the single-player mode called Arena, the player had to move around a sort of maze and fighting different P-O-X along the way. At the end of every mazelike level was a container with a new body part in it, and guarding that is the boss, called an Overspore. Upon victory against the Overspore, the player gains possession of the body parts. However, the Overspore has as much HP for each body part as the player’s infector has in its “healthiest” body part, making the battle difficult. Each level was named for the body part it contained at its end. A total of 17 arena levels help the player acquire new and stronger pieces which can then be used and turned into the ultimate infector. In multiplayer mode, you would automatically combat other P-O-X and, if victorious, acquire a copy of part of the losing P-O-X with a 10HP bonus to it.