A proposal: puzzles games focused on assembling or programming – or both – should be called Zachlikes. Following the atom-assembling SpecChem, production line ’em up Infinifactory, and the computer-programming TIS-100, Zach Barth and his Zachtronics have announced a new Zachlike. SHENZHEN I/O [official site] will combine assembling and programming to build circuits from components and then write code for them. It’s due to hit Steam Early Access in October and, for now, you can check it out in this wee announcement trailer:
SHENZHEN I/O will have players building circuits – Zachtronics mention microcontrollers, memory, logic gates, and LCD screens, and I’m sure there’s plenty more – then programming them to complete tasks. Because the potential to flub programming alone wasn’t challenge enough. Like TIS-100, it uses an assembly programming language and yes, you will definitely want to consult the manual. It’ll have a sandbox mode too, to build whatever you please.
Watching videos of Zachlikes leaves me both impressed and overwhelmed. That’s cool, that is. That’s really cool. SHENZHEN I/O looks ace. And yet… I’ve realised I make that plumber-sucking-air-through-teeth performative ‘This Is Going To Be A Big Job’ noise as my brain slowly realises the magnitude of the task and tries to convince me I don’t want to learn assembly and scrape its memory for high school circuitry lessons. Joke’s on you, brain – we’re going for it, and there’s no overtime pay on this job.
SHENZHEN I/O is due to hit Steam Early Access on October 6th at a price of $14.99. The Zachronics site is also selling a limited edition containing a printed copy of the manual and other feelies.