In Microsoft’s quest to bring more classic games to the Xbox Live Arcade (XBLA), one of the most recent additions, Tron, would seem a true treat for arcade fans.
Costing only 400 Microsoft Points (US$5), the XBLA version of Tron includes the four original levels, an enhanced graphics version of the same game and a multiplayer mode.
The four levels of the original 1982 arcade game are I/O Tower, MCP Cone, Battle Tanks and Lightcycle Race (overhead view).
In I/O tower, you shoot bugs to clear a path to the side entrance to the Tower. For MCP Cone, you shoot a descending and rotating mass of blocks to clear a path into the MCP Cone. The Lightcycle game, clearly the game’s classic, is an overhead, 2D view of the Lightcycle race from the move – block in your opponent with colored lines before you crash into a wall. In the Battle Tanks level you control a tank and must shoot computer-controlled tanks three times each before they shoot you once. In each level, you get one shot at a time, but your bullets bounce. As you progress the levels increase in difficulty (in speed, number of opponents or both).
Although I was nostalgically pleased this game was being released, it clearly demonstrates that not all arcade games translate well onto modern game controllers. The original Tron arcade game used a rotating dial to move your firing arm and a joystick with a trigger.
Without the wheel the game is much harder than the arcade version to play. The imprecise nature of using the Xbox controller’s right thumbstick for rotating Tron’s trigger arm is frustrating and difficult to direct. Instead of replacing it with Asteroids style rotation, you need to find that odd sweet spot for the direction you really want to point. It is most annoying for the tank level for turning the gun turret, especially when you have multiple tanks to hit (and three times each).
As for the other three levels, they are pretty easy to complete as long as you get the right aiming angle pretty early and learn to quick rotate Tron’s arm in the right direction so you can get to your goal. The control pad can also be used for direction control, which makes the Lightcycle level a bit easier than the arcade joystick.
Like most XBLA games, Tron has an enhanced graphics version which really just means some intern spent a couple days creating slightly nicer graphics behind the same game. It hardly improves the game and, in the instance of the flying sparkles in the I/O level, sometimes makes it look a bit silly.
As for multiplayer, the only real reason would be to play a bit of Lightcycle, though most younger gamers will prefer a racing. There is also co-op (which still pits your scores against your human buddy/opponent), which will help you get a better score, but the control problem is simply doubled.
If you are an uber fan of the original Tron arcade game, you’ll be a bit frustrated and ultimately disappointed. If you’ve never played the game and have a fat wad of Microsoft Points to burn, it’s at least an interesting look into one of the great, classic arcade games of the 1980s.
Borrowed from 360-HQ, here are the game’s 12 Achievements and point values (200 possible points):
- User – Beat all 12 levels. (45 points)
- Six Shooter – Enter the MCP cone with a maximum of six shots (35)
- Dodgy – Enter the I/O tower without shooting any grid bugs. (25)
- Block Blaster – Destroy all of the blocks in the second Level MCP cone. (20)
- Fortran – Advance to level 4 on the default settings (15)
- Exterminator – Kill all of the grid bugs in the first I/O tower level (10)
- Vs. Master – Win 3 Classic Versus games over Xbox Live (10)
- Basic – Advance to the third level using default settings (10)
- 7 Seconds – Stay alive in the Light Cycle level for 7 seconds (10)
- High Score – Get first place on in-game score board using default settings (10)
- Go Team! – Achieve a score of 20,000+ while playing an Xbox Live Co-op game (5)
- Cobol – Advance to the second level using default settings (5)