Over the past decade, Disney has focused its energies on amassing a vast quantity of marquee franchises. But while a certain amount of attention has been lavished on a universe of costumed heroes and a galaxy far, far away, there's also been another world that's gotten a little less of the spotlight lately. Tron certainly has a massive fanbase in itself and it's one that the folks at Disney Interactive have been hoping to court with the very kind of game that would make Kevin Flynn proud: an arcade game.
Tron Run/r has been on Steam Early Access since early December, but today marks a major step forward for Disney Interactive and developer Sanzaru Games, as they have pulled the Early Access label off for an official launch. The idea isn't so much to focus on the narrative of Tron, but instead to establish something that would fit perfectly within its world. Hence, an arcade game that's set within the Grid, but one that's very much in spirit of the original Space Paranoids. Shacknews recently had the opportunity to go hands-on before the game's launch.
There are two major elements of Tron Run/r, each of which contain the 'high score' spirit of old 80s-era arcade games. Disc mode utilizes elements of autorunners and old arcade racers, with the idea to control a single runner from start to finish. Obstacles will gradually pop up requiring different movements, like jumping over or sliding underneath hurdles. Hostile programs will pop up, requiring a quick toss of the disc. Precision jumping and more advanced techniques like wall running are gradually introduced, offering a greater challenge. Players are given three cracks at reaching the finish line, but given that some of those obstacles require fast reflexes, that "one more time" feeling quickly emerges.
That same kind of spirit comes in the game's Cycle mode, which puts players aboard their own Light Cycle. There's a similar arcade-style sensation here, as the object is to run through timed gates and reach the finish line before time runs out. Players will have to learn to power slide, boost towards ramps, and also navigate the dangers presented by hostile riders. One of the shoulder buttons can bump a rider off and derez them, but they can be nuisances in more advanced stages.
While the Disc and Cycle modes will provide tough, finite challenges, there's a greater leaderboard hunt in Stream mode, which combines the aforementioned two game modes in a procedurally-generated challenge. Unlike the other two modes, this is basically a one-and-done challenge, with failure resetting the course. However, if there's a score you're particularly proud of, there's an option to save the run and the course so that you can challenge friends directly.
What's refreshing about Tron Run/r is that the general Tron aesthetic is there. The computer simulation, the essence of the Grid, the neon colors, the techno and electronic music are all present and provide an authentic Tron-style atmosphere. Cycle is the closest a fan could get to modern Light Cycle battles, while Disc provides a hearty challenge to some head-bobbing beats.
There isn't much more depth to Tron Run/r, other than the Bit system that allows for unlockable assits, but as a downloadable title, it feels like a fun package. Those that have previously picked up Tron Run/r on Steam Early Access will find the launch version ready to go. Everyone else can pick up the launch version of Tron Run/r on PC and PlayStation 4 today. Xbox One will get its version soon.