The main calling card of TASSURUS 3012 ($1.00) is a return to the arcade thrills of old, pumping quarters into a hard-as-nails shooter that loved to punish you, but also made your eventual victory that much sweeter. This was before genre mashups, before twin-stick shooters really existed, back when eight-directional fire (and you couldn’t move and shoot at the same time) was as futuristic as it got.
This was also before ‘we’, collectively as gamers, knew better. TASSURUS 3012 is essentially a series of wave-based rounds. These can be tackled solo, or with a friend locally, warping from one training room to the next, clearing it of robotic sentries and avoiding the roving mines that seek you out. Its claims of 65,000+ levels are a nice gesture, but feel merely like a tick on a marketing checklist, as the dull grey walls that comprise the entirety of any level’s geometry (a design that’d be right at home on a Commodore 641) are the only visual differences from stage to stage.
Those walls can be removed / added as needed via switches, inviting some strategy. Each arena comes lined with several exits, though, giving you an out should you need it. Enemy AI starts out docile, but gets smarter and more aggressive as you advance, with one hit all that separates you (and your foes) from death. At the same time, you are rewarded for clearing the room. Take out all enemies two waves in a row, and you’ll unlock the ‘weapons portal’, which gives you a chance to upgrade your guns, provided you can successfully run the gauntlet of mines / foes on the other end. While undeniably helpful, those same upgrades only last as long as you do; one life.
You’ll find that your life is precious, and in constant danger. Although the levels aren’t expressly ‘timed’, you do have an impetus to work quickly. After a set period, mines are released into the arena from one of the entrances. Most can be avoided or outrun, but the dreaded ‘ottomine’ is another story entirely. This one actively seeks the player out (and cannot be destroyed!), gaining speed relative to how many enemies are left standing. The continual threat the mines pose does add a dash of random to the proceedings.
Of course, your patience with the basic level design and simplistic shooting mechanics will be tested. It does indeed recall the arcade shooters of yesteryear, but that throwback to a simpler time is not necessarily an automatic upgrade; there’s a reason we’ve evolved to our current generation of games / consoles. Still, if you hunger for the knowledge of those old arcade games, one could do worse than TASSURUS 3012. One could also do better.