Tuesday, November 30, 2021

TRON: Deadly Discs

Name:TRON: Deadly Discs
Publisher:Mattel Electronics
Developer:Mattel Electronics
Time:1 hour

Its hard to think that, chronologically, this is the first licensed game I've played. The Atari 2600 has been retroactively slapped with the image of a console that crashed thanks to a deluge of bad licensed titles, with E.T. the Extraterrestrial heading the charge. Perhaps that's true, but it looks like the games I've picked out for this blog are relatively isolated from the deluge of crap that was this period.

The Intellivision and the Colecovision, thanks to their lower market shares, usually didn't have these kinds of games on their systems. There was the illusion of quality. On the other hand, Mattel, the creators of this game and the Intellivision, tended to port some of their games to Atari. I didn't play that version, knowing full well it would be a downgrade. I had an Intellivision growing up, but rarely managed to play it, thanks to being an old system even at the time, which meant finnicky set-up. So I never played this game. But I did have a good idea of how to play it thanks to having the manual.

The red man is the player, and on the right, the yellow disc is the player's weapon
Deadly Discs is taken from the one scene in TRON with the throwing discs that killed people. I barely remember the film, sorry. TRON games seem set up around the gladiator games in the in-game world. There's a whole sub-genre around the light cycle game in TRON, though admittedly that's just multiplayer Snake. As per usual for the era, the game is very simple. Throw a disc at various enemies, dodge their disc. What makes the game special is that the disc functions like a boomerang you can block with. It doesn't hurt on the way back, but you can control how far it goes. This is what makes this game feel special for the time. It feels like a special weapon.
I'm admittedly not sure how this one happened
Bear in mind your enemies have this weapon too, you're just going to be smarter about using it. Enemies at the start function exactly like you do, right down to not doing damage to other characters by touching them. And there are up to three enemies at once. For the most part they're going to be the same enemies, later enemies get faster and ones I didn't reach hurt you upon touch.
Its certainly an impressive looking thing
There are two objectives here, the first to fight off the enemies, the second to keep the doors open. You can move through ones you've hit with your disc. Every so often you hear a strange noise and this big...thing comes flying in. At first it seems like its just going to drop something in the center of the screen, but when it lands it starts throwing things at the doors, closing them, and throws a paralyzing attack at you. You defeat it by hitting the little shifting dot at the top of it, anywhere else and the disc will just harmlessly bounce off.
About as far as I got, note the different shade of blue on the top enemy
From there its fairly simple. At 10,000 points a new kind of enemy pops up, which is faster. I assume stronger enemies show up, but I wasn't able to reach that far. The player character is not the usual one-hit wonder, he can take a few hits and he regenerates as time goes on. However, there is a problem with this, where the game draws most of its difficulty, you slow down after each hit you take. At full health you move at a good pace, at minimum you are guaranteed to get hit again.

The disc is a very interesting weapon. Easy to use, hard to master. It doesn't really seem that much better than the rest of the shoot once, wait for shot to disappear games that are typical of the era, but its a lot better in practice. 3/10

Your typical assortment that gradually gets stronger as you go. The semi-reoccuring enemy that doesn't actually kill you is new, and his appearance shakes things up quite a bit. 3/10


None, really.

Player Agency:
Moving around is exactly what it needs to be. Controlling the disc has a curve, but actually aiming it isn't a problem. Damage reducing your speed is annoying, but more colors would probably break things. 5/10



Simple Intellivision graphics. 1/10


Surprisingly effective for the Intellivision. They don't feel like the usual blips and bloops, although the sound of the disc bouncing off something was used in something else. 2/10

That's 14. About average for the Intellivision at this point. A pretty good start for licensed games, though there don't seem to be any more until 1983. Curiously, there's a remake of this game in the works for the Intellivision Amico...which I'm sure won't go over like every other microconsole has this past decade.

Dimensional Fighter Epsilon3 is proving both very long and very boring, and thanks to its status as the first FPS/RPG hybrid, its not exactly a game I feel like I can give up on. Shorter games will be the rule until I either win or finally hit a brick wall.

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