Like Star Wars, as a kid I loved watching movies and then pretending that I was part of the movie. That’s why you buy toys, clothes, posters, and even the trading cards. However, I never could figure how my Death Star was serviced by only one Stormtrooper.
But any time a new movie came out, I was waiting impatiently to see the film. Back in July of 1982, and no, not all of my blogs will be accurately dated. But back then, a new movie was introduced as a revolutionary film with amazing animation. Enter Tron. A movie like no other. The story of a programmer sucked into the world of video games to fight the evil Master Control Program.
From the first moment the opening logo popped up, I was smiling from beginning to the end of the movie. This was awesome. (Disclaimer #1 as a child we are attracted to shinny objects and video games!! We weren’t concerned about weak plot and premise!) We look back on it and people will claim the movie sucked! I still loved it because of what it was.
The light cycles, tanks and even the disc battles were by far the coolest thing I had seen in a while…Not counting Star Wars. But this was a movie that, when I went home, I booted up my dads old IBM 8088 and pretended I was in the movie. And any time I played Frisbee with a friend or went to go ride my bike, I pretended I was in the movie. I kept thinking, how could a movie like this be made?
After seeing the movie, I went across the hall to the Great American Fun Factory. Sadly closed now, but it was an arcade that was so lowly lit, that at first I was afraid to go in there. But right as you walked in, there were two Tron machines side by side. I was overly excited and wasn’t sure what to say or do except put my quarter in line on the glass and wait to play. That’s how I was with video games.
This game was so lit, it was like a bug zapper calling to the moth. And the sound was so loud that hairs on the back of my neck stood up. It sucked me in. Four levels of movie goodness!!
For those who haven’t played it, Tron is a game setup into several levels in 4 stages: The Light Cycles, Tanks, Grid Bugs and Master Control battle. The Light Cycles was a motorcycle-ish game where you try to get the enemy to run into your cycle wall. In the Grid Bug level, you shoot your way through the bugs to get into the middle of the screen where the MCP is located. Tanks is just like the old Combat game on the Atari. Just shoot the tanks and survive. Finally there is the MCP battle. In a breakout type theme, you shoot your way to the top of the cone and don’t get hit by the color walls.
I was in love with this game!! It was frustrating after level 2 because everything revolved on a pattern to complete the levels. That’s how this game turned out in the end. But I kept wanting to play over and over!!
(Disclaimer #2. Yeah, I know, there are way better games today, but for the times, it was awesome!)
Out of all the games that I played at the time, I would say I have spent more quarters on this game than any other game. Again, it was at the time. Opinions can and always change. But every time we went to the mall, I always tried to cut a deal with my parents to go play Tron.
To this day, I have always wanted to get a Tron machine or even a minicab Tron would make me happy and I don’t know why. I think it’s because it was the first time I could actually relate to a movie/video game tie in. It just seemed right.
What is it that draws us to video games like this? Some say it is the graphics, some say it’s the
controls, which to date is my all time favorite controller. Some say its the music, which I disagree on. And some say it’s just something new and different.
Choosing why you play any game can sometimes be a problem. But “Like the man said, there’s no problems, only solutions!” – Kevin Flynn.
Keep Calm and Insert Coin.