Saturday, December 26, 2009

Retro Game of the Day! TomyTronic 3-D Planet Zeon

Retro Game of the Day! TomyTronic 3-D Planet Zeon

Greetings Programs! And Happy Boxing Day! And from the "File Under: Ghosts of Toys of Christmases Past," I give you - TomyTronic 3-D Planet Zeon! Released in 1983 by Tomy.

Ah would you look at those things? Back when I was a kid, videogames came in all shapes, sizes and colors. You had your big-mother arcade machines, your sit-down "cocktail machines," your home consoles, your home computers, and ten of course you had your portable systems. Prior to the days of GameBoy, "standalone" units were the norm (that being single-game devices) often utilizing some form of LED or LCD technology, as opposed to any kind of dot-matrix (again, such as the GameBoy). This means rather than proper raster graphics of any sort, you'd be looking at etched pictures illuminated by light-emitting diodes or shapes burned into liquid crystals or what-have-you.

The TomyTronic gimmick was two-fold - 1. The images were the LED style, but they got their light-source externally (so you'd need to stand under a strong source, such as a room's main light, or outside in the sunshine) to see it properly. Easy enough. Number 2 Gimmick was that the games were in THREE-DEE, BAY-BEE.

That's right - outfitted to resemble a pair of binoculars, you'd hold the unit up to your head and each eye would be confined to looking at its own little screen. Each screen was basically showing the exact same image as one another, though with minor appropriate differences in perspective foreshortening so as to give the false perception of witnessing depth. It worked rather well!

Zeon put you in control of an X-Wing lookalike, flying through a space trench and blasting away at the enemy armada. You'd need to dodge enemy fire and their craft, and be sure to obtain fuel or you'd crash and explode in the silence of space. And no one would ever know your fate. Your memory would be lost to the cosmos... to infinity. Forever.

The game was quite simple, all you could do was dodge and shoot - some rudimentary sound FX supplemented the action. It was a simple little game, as many of its peers were back in the day - and it was primarily intended for little kids to enjoy - but the game was quite fun for a spell, and the 3D effect was certainly unlike anything else available. We had one when I was a kid (I suspect it exists buried at the middle of a landfill somewhere) and I recently re-acquired a new set of the original 3 TomyTronic 3-D games for a few bucks on eBay. Good times!

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(iTunes Link Here)


  1. I'm surprised the Virtual Boy didn't take this form.

  2. That's a good point - I am sure they considered something along those lines during the concept phase, but probably wouldn't have provided enough control options for their games. TomyTronic games only used 3 buttons (no D-pad). Not to say it couldn't have been done, though-