ANSI Dude is an action game whose title obviously refers to its text-only ANSI graphics. The animated intro explains the background story: you play ANSI Dude, who, for unknown reasons, lands his spacecraft on some strange planet and enters a 24-level dungeon.
Each dungeon level takes up one screen and is seen from above. Each level is a maze, often filled with enemies; some blocks may be moved, others destroyed, so you can make your way through the maze. Other elements of the maze are conveyor belts, which move you quickly to another position; mines you should avoid; locked doors that can only be opened by key cards you have to collect first, etc. To help you, there are also energy and battery recharge units as well as extra score items and 1-ups.
To get to the exit and thus the next level, you have not only to eliminate "evil entities", but also solve different puzzles using the four special items at your disposition. These items are: The Suction Cup, which sucks moveable blocks out of nooks and crannies; the Sonic Pickaxe, that breaks destructible walls and moveable blocks; the Plasma Rifle is used to get rid of enemies and set trees on fire, and the Force Field finally allows you to set up a barrier for your enemies. There is a Self-Destruct option, which allows you to restart a level when you get stuck without losing a life.
You have to be careful about your resources: each use of one of your special items uses up a certain amount of battery, and, if your battery is depleted, bye-bye! After the first few of them, levels begin to get more complicated, and you will have to think about the right strategy to get through - often, just blowing any moving enemy will just use up all your energy, and it may be better to set up some force fields.
The game is entirely controlled by key presses. Gameplay occurs in "timed delay" - which means that it is basically turn-based, but if you do nothing for some time, the game still progresses, so you sometimes have to act quick. It also features an in-game help on controls and text character interpretations, as well as a high-score list.
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