Featuring a plot that is inextricably linked to video games – Kevin Flynn is a game designer at the original movie’s open – Tron has users compete with programmes through a series of games. Competitors and programmes engage in light disk or light cycle battles on a Colosseum-esque grid system until one of the gamers is bested and destroyed. While a narrative is created around this central arena, it is the scenes which take place on the grid that prove the most exciting, engaging and redeeming in both the original and belated sequel Tron: Legacy.
Tron’s foray into game-play, however, has not ended with the initial arcade game. The sequel’s director Joe Kosinski and a number of the movie’s producers have worked closely with Propaganda Games and N-Space to develop games tha bridge the gap between movies, Tron: Evolution and Tron: Evolution – Battle Grids respectively. Steve Lisberger, one such producer, is keen to point out the lengths such adaptations take to further the mythology originally set out in the movies.
“I like the fact that the games in some ways are a visual and a narrative test bed for Hollywood, where some of the more far-out ideas can be experimented with on a somewhat smaller scale than having to ratchet them all the way up to a film like Tron: Legacy. I think that’s a good relationship between games and films.”
Tron: Evolution – Battle Grids, available for the Wii only, is set closer to the original movie, dropping the darker narrative elements for a mainstream actioner utilising the numerous weapons and vehicles available on the grid arena. Tron: Evolution, on the other hand, is available on all consoles and picks up the action nearer the events of Tron: Legacy. Opening in 1990 and chronicling the fall of the computer world, it is this game in particular that could continue the franchise in the light of the latest movie’s under-performance. Propaganda Games’ character art director Jeremy Miller explains:
“When you watch the movie you will see flashbacks of a young Sam Flynn around this time and the game shares a couple of those scenes. By playing the games, fans will learn out a lot of interesting back story, including the fall of the ISOs—a race of programs that play a major role in the Tron mythology.”
“I had done all this work on Quorra’s back story while we were shooting Tron: Legacy, and when they said the videogame would take place in between the first Tron film and Legacy, I realized I was going to be able to use so much of the research I did on her past to create this younger version of her.”
The fact that the Playstation 3 version of the game is playable in stereoscopic 3D, in particular, should help sell it. As Walt Disney’s Bob Iger points out, “I think games like Tron: Legacy have a great opportunity to use 3D technology to create a much more immersive experience for the consumer,” where Garrett Hedlund‘s somewhat vanilla Sam Flynn might have left audiences cold, the possibility to yourself engage in the battle to save the computer world holds promise and intrigue.
Should a third movie, which producers have “beginning thoughts” for, never happen, a gaming future for the franchise proves a decidedly more attractive alternative. Watching other people play video games has never been the most exciting prospect, something which hinders enjoyment of those elements of the movie, whereas a game which lets you lose with a light cycle – expanding the mythology only to complement the action – might prove an ordering of priorities which befits the Tron universe.