|Title: Discs of Tron Environmental
Rom Player: MAME .37b13
Synopsis: Quarters lasted longer back then.
We had a nice arcade called "Fun Time" at the local mall at that time (now it's a Chick-fil-a). Now, I could go on a harangue about how video arcades were at their quintessence back in the day, but that’s not what this area’s about. But there was one game among a few that has stuck in my mind all these years. It sat in the very back of the arcade, past the Rastans, the Tempests, the 720 Degrees, and the Magic Swords. Radiating its seductive blacklight glow upon its frugal surroundings, it captivated the mind as well as the wallet. Obviously I'm talking about Discs of Tron Environmental. It consisted of a dimly lit semi-enclosure you stepped into to play the game. This thing rocked hardcore. It heightened the whole experience. When you stepped inside, you became fucking Tron! The floor on which you stood was even plastered with a decal shaped like the platforms that Tron and Sark stood on in the game. The area was lit up just right for you to get in the mood. You left the outside behind. Nothing could touch you here. This was your world. Unless someone bigger than you wanted to play. Seriously though, I would’ve set up camp and lived in this thing if it were possible.
There was no seat, but just a carpeted bump for you to rest upon while you attempted to kick Sark's ass. The joystick looked more like it belonged in a jet fighter game, but still it was badass. A small dial gave you complete 360-degree horizontal control for you to throw your discs. Later on in the game this control is augmented to limited vertical control by pulling or pushing the dial out and in.
The premise of the game is to try and knock Sark from his floating platforms by chucking discs across the divide that separates the two of you. And while you're playing frisbee, you're also hopping from platform to platform. The action can become quite engaging at times. Action and strategy become intermixed. There can be a total of 6 discs flying about at one time, three per player. The only ways to block a disc are either by using your powerbeam shield (which drains over time) or by tossing your own disc into Sark's. Both discs will be destroyed, but you'll still always have 3 discs with which to dispense virtual pain.
This game was one of few for its time that made use of a 3D environment for the characters to fight in. You could make use of all the surrounding walls, bouncing discs around the transparent cubic room in frantic attempts to dethrone your opponent. An excellent piece of artwork inspired from the movie was used as a background (though the roms automatically default to an opaque black room). To better immerse the player, surround sound was also incorporated in an attempt to make it sound as though Sark's discs were whizzing past you. If he missed, that is. That bastard David Warner has new shit to throw this time, like "chasers" and "superchasers." These nasty uberdiscs actually follow you around until you destroy them with some of your "not-so-super" discs, or until you get knocked off your platform while Sark taunts you, as he should. BTW, Sark TALKS! It's somewhat garbled and gurgled, but you can still pretty much make out what he's saying. It kicks ass for its time. Other than that, the sounds are pretty simplistic.
Anyway, the levels obviously become more challenging as you go, with some surprises here and there. Back then I was unfortunately too young to play this game. All I could do was stand in that dim enclosure and soak it in, whilst trying to sit on that damn carpeted bump (I was too short you see). But now, thanks to the gaming gods (programmers) people like you and me can enjoy this delightful game through the magic of emulation, albeit without all the sensory fondling of the environmental machine. In addition, you might have some trouble getting the backdrop artwork to actually load. I suggest giving the rom below a spin regardless. There are two upright versions in addition to the environmental version, and they’ve got slight differences between them. The environmental version may be the only one with Sark talking. You'll just have to experiment mon ami.
Best Cheats: Would Tron cheat? No, I didn't think so.
Game Play: 9
Overall Rating: 9
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