Set foot into a virtual world and be the last man standing!
Disney’s (now) cult movie Tron might have bombed at the box office upon release, but that didn’t stop Mattel milking their expensive licence for everything it was worth releasing no less than three different games based on the movie for their Intellivision console. Of the trilogy, Deadly Discs has long been regarded as the best, and was a game I very much enjoyed on the rival Atari 2600 as a youngster. It was our own movie review of Tron, posted just yesterday, that once again reminded me of this action-packed game and motivated me to do this review. While it’s the 2600 version of Deadly Discs that holds all the nostalgic memories for me, the original Intellivision iteration is without doubt the best one to play. Released in 1981, it was designed by Don Daglow (who would later go on to big things at EA) and Steven Sents it was one of the few games that really benefitted from the Intellivision’s unique disc controller, which is pretty fitting given the name of the game!
Tron: Deadly Discs sees you thrust into an arena to compete in a deadly game against a bunch of increasingly skilled adversaries. Your only defense is your disc weapon that can be thrown at your opponents to take them out. As the game progresses, the enemy warriors become faster and tougher and require more hits to kill. Their level of prowess is gauged by their color – starting at blue and going up to orange. The strongest of the enemies, the Guards, have also switched their discs for stun poles. These can kill you in one hit, while the discs of the other enemies take several hits to kill you. You can aim your own discs in eight different directions (where the circular controller actually comes in handy) and they will bounce of walls before coming back to you. The enemies arrive through doors on each edge of the playfield and by hitting these doors with your disc you can lock them in place. Once locked the enemies cannot re-use that door and, even better, you can use them yourself to warp from one side of the screen to the other. Deadly Discs still has one trick left up its sleeve though, the extremely annoying Recognizer! This huge robot will appear in the center of the screen between rounds and shoot out laser bolts to close all the locked doors. The only way you can stop him is to hit him in the eye. If this wasn’t hard enough already the first thing he tries to do when he arrives is hit you with a stun gun that paralyzes you until the next round starts and he has completed his work!
Graphically Tron: Deadly Discs is very nice indeed – from the pseudo 3D styled arena to the well-animated sprites. The throw of your disc unfortunately sounds akin to a wet fart but all the other effects are decent enough. Gameplay wise though there are very few Intellivision games that top Deadly Discs, not only does it make perfect use of the controller but it remains both addictive and challenging in the long term. There is also a two-player mode but you just alternate turns, rather than working together, and see who gets the high score. Deadly Discs also captures the feeling of the original Tron movie pretty well and so will definitely appeal to fans of the film as much as your average arcade game aficionado. All in all Tron: Deadly Discs is right up there with my favorite games for the Intellivision. And it’s a game that you should certainly be adding to your collection if you haven’t already!
Final Verdict: 4.5/5
Available on: Mattel Intellivision (reviewed), Atari 2600, Mattel Aquarius ; Publisher: Mattel Electronics ; Developer: Mattel Electronics ; Players: 1-2 ; Released: 1981 ; ESRB: N/A ; MSRP: N/A