After trying a bit of Pico-8 I was still craving another fantasy micro-computer. That’s where TIS-100 comes in:
TIS-100 is an open-ended programming game by Zachtronics, the creators of SpaceChem and Infinifactory, in which you rewrite corrupted code segments to repair the TIS-100 and unlock its secrets. It’s the assembly language programming game you never asked for!
The website and all of the other information about TIS-100 are very intimidating at first glance to anyone making a purchasing decision. Doubly so for non-programmers and who the heck writes assembly today unless they’re writing code for embedded systems?
Well it turns out that you don’t even need to know the barest level of programming to get started with TIS-100, the instruction set is so limited that it could fit on a three-by-five card and the way it starts out is kind of similar to that old Pipe Dream game where you’re trying to manage the flow of water by placing pipe parts and junctions. The difference in TIS-100, at the start at least, is that you’re managing a flow of data using written instructions instead of pipe pieces.
TIS-100 ups the challenge fairly quickly by moving on to more difficult puzzles where you have to transform the data in some way while it is moving through the system. Still, I think that anyone who appreciates puzzles could enjoy this game, and shouldn’t be intimidated by the programming and the aesthetic of the website. It’s only $7 to try it out via Steam or Gog and it runs on Mac, Windows, and Linux.