Tron 2.0 Killer App
for Game Boy Advance

Homer : Um, it's like, uh ... did anyone see the movie Tron?

Dr. Hibbert : No.
Lisa : No.
Chief Wiggum : No.
Marge : No.
Bart : No.
Patty : No.
Chief Wiggum : No.
Flanders : No.
Selma : No.
Prof. Fink : No.
Rev. Lovejoy : No.
Chief Wiggum : Yes. I mean, uh, I mean, no. No.

[source : Richmond/Groening, The Simpsons - A Complete Guide To Our Favorite Family, 1997, Harper/Perennial]

So Tron might not have broken box office records when it was released back in 1982, the Disney movie certainly became part of our pop culture later on. In 2004, Buena Vista Interactive made Tron 2.0, a PC game that served as a sequel to the original story. In my first game review proper, I'm looking at the Game Boy Advance version of said game.

I don't know the gist of the story, because I have not seen the movie. According to the manual, a virus has been implanted in a computer and Tron must eliminate it.

Start up your Game Boy Advance/SP/Micro/DS and you have the choice between two playable characters : Tron or Mercury. A small flying creature accompagnies you - in the vein of Link's Navi in Zelda : Ocarina Of Time or Jim's Morph in Treasure Planet. Tron's "conscience" is called Bit and he serves as a tutorial in the beginning.

Initial gameplay is easy : platform stages in a semi-3D environment. The game gets quite challenging and varied, though. In all, you have at least four genres crammed into one cartridge : a platformer, a puzzler, a racing game and a first-person shooter. The platform environments are the bulk of the game, but further on you have to 'hack' several terminals by combining pieces of pipe/pipes of peace (reminiscent of LucasArts' Pipe Dream), you have to race for your life in a (Nokia's) Snake-esque manner and finally, you have to take place in a Tank (for ground stages) or a Recognizer (for flight stages). Can't say the creators treated us to a lousy game!

The Tron-part took me about 5,5 hours to complete, after which you can select the Mercury character. Significantly more difficult, it took me another 5 hours to play through her storyline - which is nicely interwoven with Tron's.

As I said before, I'm not the type of gamer to fully complete a game. But developers Digital Eclipse made me succumb to their sidequest : 100 collectable 'chips' are scattered all over the Tron world. Some are just redundant (a full screen drawing of Mercury), but others are life savers! Four combined chips create an invincibility cheat, for example. I wasn't aware of the importance of these 100 buggers, so I didn't pay attention to them early in the game. I have already played through Tron's quest a second time, finishing with 95 chips. Still 5 to go - where could they be?! The initial longevity of 10 hours is easily doubled, no mean feat in Game Boy land (where games can be VERY short).

Graphically speaking, Tron is a pleasant surprise : scenery, character models, still frames etc. Sounds are so-so, the voice acting is a little too compressed. I don't care, I prefer mute games to save batteries.

Extras include the full playable version of the two arcade games from 1982 and 1983, Tron and Discs of Tron. I'm too young to have any memories of these (besides, we never had an arcade tradition in Belgium compared to the US), but the reviewers from dedicated websites (, etc.) lept for joy when they found about the inclusion of these two classics. Apparently, they have never been accessible outside the arcade. Thanks, Disney.

In closing, I picked up this game because it was cheap (5/$6.5). I do not regret it! "Tron 2.0 Killer App" is, by far, the best Game Boy Advance game I have played yet. Large, challenging and never boring : what more could a person want from a handheld game? Proof that a game based on a movie doesn't have to be a stinker.

Julian, 21 April 2007