Assault City



This robot is worthy of your scorn.





GENRE: Shooter – Light Phaser/Control Pad

RELEASE DATE: 05/90 – (US), 1990 – (EU)


Assault City brings the Light Phaser out of retirement for “one more mission.” Rather than craft a magnum opus of carnage for the peripheral’s farewell – something akin to the epic action and creativity of Gangster Town or Rescue Mission – Sanritsu delivered a sci-fi snoozer with a derivative story and repetitive shooting.


Assault City - Pad Version (E) [!]001

Not the trigger on some other trigger-filled device.


The future is here and robots are our masters. You play as Joe, a Ziggy Stardust look-a-like who must destroy every robot with a Light Phaser he inherited from a dead guy (this is the story, take it or leave it). With this product placement by his side, Joe’s one-man disabling spree rages on through fashionable areas like: The Robot Scrapyard, The Sewers, and the Security Guard System.


Assault City - Pad Version (E) [!]005

The current regime really has a thing for lime green.


Before you can assault your way to a promotion, you take a shooting exam to prove you’re worthy of adopting David Bowie’s persona. The exam consists of tiles that flip over to reveal either a robot face or a human face. The more robots you shoot successfully, the harder the game will be (and don’t shoot the human faces or you’ll be penalized). What does harder difficulty entail? More enemies that shoot at you faster. Bosses that annihilate you with their attacks. Given the latter (and your one life/limited continues), I recommend you only shoot a handful of robots to keep the game at a manageable difficulty. Life’s too short to get arthritis from Assault City.


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The enemy: a genial looking robot with red pupils.


Each stage consists solely of on-rails robot shooting, with vague apocalyptic landscapes looming ominously in the background. The robots either have generic designs or they’re out right stolen from 80s action films; Robocop and the Terminator make considerable cameos in the Sewer stage, for example. Once the stage decides you’ve shot enough of them, you’re ushered away to equally generic cybernetic bosses that pose no threat if you’re able to shoot their weaknesses fast enough. If I was Joe, discovering the power of the Light Phaser for the first time, I’d be disappointed that the world was taken over by these metallic lightweights.


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Robocop’s locker room is OFF LIMITS.


Given how heavily the Light Phaser plays into Assault City‘s story, one might think that the sleek plastic piece would be the only way to play. Actually, Sanritsu made two versions of Assault City, one that uses the Control Pad, and the other that uses the Light Phaser. Even stranger: the Control Pad version is thought to have been released first, though I couldn’t find any hard evidence of this. Besides the large cursor that guides your shooting in the latter, both versions are exactly the same.


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My response to playing through Assault City.


Who’s really being assaulted here? The neverending parade of robots, our sensitive savior Joey Stardust, or the consumer who hoped Assault City would help them believe in the power of gaming? This is the type of soulless outing that killed any remaining potential for the lightgun peripheral. Unless you’re able to insert some “Mystery Science Theater 3000”-esque commentary during the overwrought cutscenes, Assault City is a complete waste of everyone’s time.



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0 thoughts on “Assault City

  1. Oof! I’ve never played this title, but I always though it looked good from the box. I’ll have to pick up a copy to see if it’s as bad as you say!

  2. The Level 2 boss in this game (bottom picture) always reminded me of Patrick Moore as the Games Master (It was a British gaming TV series. Ask Sam he will tell you).

    This has the distinction of being the very first cartridge my parents bought for me back when I was but a wee lad. For one whole year I had to contend with Safari Hunt and Hang On before I got this for the following Christmas. My version was the controller version and it was rather tough to play although once you got the knack of it suddenly you could just whip through the whole game. It was compensating for how slow the targeting box moved that was the key. I do think this is a damn good looking game for the most part although it does have a few bland/generic stages.

  3. I’ve got a soft spot for light gun games, so I didn’t think it was that bad.

    It is a pain in the butt to find the light gun version though.

  4. Only played this one briefly years ago, it didn’t really stand out.

    Like Taylor said, the only interesting thing about Assault City is the rarity of the light gun version. Not sure why it’s so rare – I doubt there is a hardcore community of Assault City snobs who will only play the light gun version!

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