Thursday, July 16, 2009

Retro Game of the Day! Tron

Ah, Tron. Good old Tronny-tron-tron. Where would the world be without you today? The arcade game, created in 1982 by Bally Midway, was based on the seminal film released by Disney that same year. So what's there to say about it, then?

Well, I cut right to the chase - while the movie super-impressed my 7-yr-old self at the time, the game did not do as much. Though I was eager and interested to get my hands on the bizarre contraption the 1st time I lay eyes on it at the arcade, I quickly realized the machine was in no way going to be anywhere near as interesting as it's source material.

The movie concerned itself with a fella who gets "zapped" out of the Real World and into the Video game world, and must battle his way through various video games as an avatar himself in order to survive. In the movie, these scenes were depicted with astounding, for the time, CGI sequences (still very impressive to see!). These were used as inspiration for levels in the actual arcade game here, but due to the much lower tech of the arcade machine, and the lack of creativity of the game designers/tighter budget/what-have-you, there was quite a gap between what was seen on the movie screen and what was playable on the arcade screen, yeah I know I just said the same thing twice!

The game itself consisted of 4 minigames; one where you must pilot a tank through a maze and destroy rival tanks, another where you must drive your lightcycle on a game grid and slam your opponent's cycle into your turbo walls, a third where you must blast spiders and pass through a glowing tower, and a fourth where you must blast rotating walls inside of an enemy machine, which is trying to crush you. It all sounds easy enough, and the games themselves are all..alright, but nothing that's terribly compelling. It was worth a play at the time, but no one was ever screaming "I want to play this at home!" And so, we never did, at least not for a couple of decades; the games released on XBLA eventually, and as a bonus in a Gameboy Advance game.

So, what is so noteworthy about this machine then? For one thing, it does stand as a sort of beacon for the era which produced it: Tron (the movie) was certainly a cultural flashpoint for videogaming, and it was important to represent this in an arcade as well. though not many people seemed to LOVE this game, any retrogamer worth his salt has at least stepped up and given it a few rounds. While not a terrible game, it did provide a fair bit of amusement for what it was worth - and as the round progressed, some of the levels (like the tank battles) did slowly become more challenging and interesting.


But really, the most important thing to remember about Tron, over anything else - the cabinet for this machine was just amazingly cool. Never, before or since, have I come across a cab which just looks so out-of-this-world, they really went to town on the design of this baby. Glowing blue lights remniscient of the character's costumes in the movie, funky grid motifs, the crazy joystick and spinner controls, it was all too much really.. You would see this machine beckoning you from across the arcade, and you had to play it. Even now, most reputable arcade machine collectors drool at the thought of owning a mint Tron cab. Shallow, peraps, but it's an important piece of history. A follow-up to this machine, Discs of Tron, was released shortly afterward - I will revisit that game some other time, suffice it to say the designers got the gameplay much more nailed down in that effort!

3 comments:

  1. Nice I loved this game and it still makes me think of the good'ole arcade hangin out..!

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  2. It is pity that I loved a lot of retro games but I haven't played Tron. First Because I am old but I ain't that kind of old and second because in my arcades, other games were more popular at the time. Well, now It is time to go back to Viagra Online

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