Only 256 bytes. Ukrainian creates a game that helps to learn Assembler

A Ukrainian developer, Andriy Brusnyk, has developed the Astra-256 Assembler game that helps students learn this elementary programming language and brings a lot of fun for “old-school” programmers. The app caught the attention of the ITC.UA journalists.

“In this program, we tried to combine the atmosphere and the special charm of the first computers with a training tool, thanks to which you can gain skills in working with the Assembler language. At the same time, you are given the opportunity to work in harsh conditions of limited resources, in which ‘real programmers’ had to work,” the developer says.

The visual part of the program looks like an old programmable calculator, but there is no familiar scoreboard with Arabic numerals. Instead of it, there are rows of indicators reflecting register values (result register, input register, and address counter register). Like the first computers did at the beginning of the computing era.

Players have to program computational operations using a limited set of commands and finite resources. They have only 256 bytes of memory, an 8-bit processor, and 102 commands at disposal. To complicate the task, you can dismiss the interface and try to be guided only by indicator lights – as our ancestors did.

The game isn’t final yet, but it’s already available for pre-order on Steam for PC. Soon it will also be released for other platforms, including smartphones and tablets.

Why It’s Interesting

Assembler is still used to program various devices on microcontrollers because it allows you to manage the hardware resources of such devices most efficiently.

Assembler is also used to optimize programs written in higher-level languages.

Working with Assembler, you will get to know how to turn “iron” into an intelligent device by working only with binary numbers, zeros, and ones.