The Game: You are Tron, a lone video game warrior pitted against three other enemies with much greater armament. You can take a number of hits before you’re “de-rezzed” out of existence, but those hits can pile up pretty quickly. By throwing your disc at certain portions of the arena wall and changing them to the same color as your on-screen character, you can make tunnels for yourself – not unlike the side tunnels in Pac-Man – handy for escape or ambush. Every so often, however, a Recognizer will enter the arena, send out a force field to attempt to hold Tron immobile, and will close off those exits to restore the odds in favor of the house. If the Recognizer crushes Tron, that’ll end the game as quickly as letting the video warriors blast him repeatedly. (Mattel, 1982)
Memories: Easily the most playable of the three Intellivision games based on Tron, Deadly Discs was also later ported to the Atari 2600, and despite the nice graphical bells and whistles bestowed upon this edition, it’s the 2600 version of the game which is most playable.
I’m a big fan of the 2600 edition, and I’d always wondered what the original Intellivision version is like, and it does have some cool qualities – the vaguely 3-D perspective of the game grid, the use of the keypad to control your disc (almost making this a bit of a poor man’s Robotron), and especially the appearance of the Recognizer from the movie that inspired the game. But there are also a great many frustrations: that same 3-D perspective which adds visual flair results in some very suspicious collision detects. Countless shots which should have taken out one of Tron’s enemies sails by them, while they seem to have little trouble hitting him.
The video warriors also don’t seem to need to stop to take their aim and fire; Tron does. And the keypad idea, while very cool, falls down when you quickly discover that it’s just not sensitive enough for the kind of fast action this game demands. (For those who need new overlays to help them figure out this rather unique control scheme, click the overlay button at right to print out some nice new ones.)
Still, that didn’t stop me from playing it for an hour. I highly recommend the INTV clip-on joysticks for those who have them – they make Deadly Discs a hell of a lot easier to handle than relying on the disc controller alone.