Xbox Live Arcade has served as a conduit from the great beyond, bringing ancient videogames both famous and obscure back to life. This has been both a good thing and a bad thing; some games have introduced some gamers to great games that have stood the test of time, some games have mercilessly destroyed some gamers' nostalgic treasured memories, and some just should have never been brought back from the dead in the first place. This brings us to Tron, which unfortunately sits somewhere between the two latter groups.
Tron, of course, is based on the movie of the same name. While a marvel in its day for its revolutionary use of computer animation, it hasn't really stood the test of time because poor acting and weak storytelling hold up about as well as twenty-five year old computer animation. Unfortunately, Tron the game has aged just about as well.
There wasn't anything all that revolutionary about the game when it first appeared in arcades. It consisted of four mini games that were derived from other games of the day, and the biggest novelties about it were that it was four games in one and that it was a videogame based on a movie about being inside a videogame.
The most original of the four mini games is also the least interesting to play. You must move your man from the bottom of the screen to an exit that sits in the middle while shooting and avoiding self-replicating spiders. There's a Breakout style game that has you shooting out blocks to create an opening in the rotating wall that will let you slip through. The next game is a tank battle that plays out like the old 2600 Combat game. You look straight down on a maze in which you need to maneuver a tank and take out the enemy tanks before they get you. The fourth and final game is by far the most enjoyable. You control one of the lightcycles from the movie and as you move you leave a trail of light behind you that creates a wall. From one to three other cycles do the same thing, and your job is to get them to hit a wall before you do. The four games are played once in each round and once they're all cleared you move to a new round to play them again but at a higher difficulty level.
Tron is one of those games that really could have used an updated enhanced mode. The game looks like it is a straight port of the original arcade game with nothing done to make it work well with a modern analog stick controller. The original game used a vertically mounted monitor, so on your TV the game screen only fills about the center two thirds of the screen with a very dull placeholder graphic serving as a static border on the remaining screen space.
Tron doesn't have that many problems, but they're enough to make a game that hasn't aged well just about unplayable. The control is in a word awful. The left stick is used to emulate the original game's dial controller that was used to aim your shots in three of the mini games and it is a terrible replacement, at least in the way it is programmed in this game. Rotating the tank's turret or trying to aim at spiders is slow and sluggish, and just about half of the time things will move in the opposite direction as intended. This makes things difficult enough in the first couple of levels and after that you'll be lucky to avoid one frustrating death after another at the game's higher levels. You'll probably be done with the game in about the time it took you to download it.
In The End, This Game Hath Been Rated: 45%. This is one game from the past that's best left forgotten.