Concerning its development time, the story of Alberto Covarrubias' Virtual Boy version of the game „Tron“ from the correspondent movie is quite a longish one. After the game was originally announced as a sample for Alberto's -still unreleased- documentation about the Affine mode during the release of the Virtual-E C Compilers (VECC) in October 2000, it become quiet about it and the game seemed to be cancelled. Almost 8 long years later, Alberto surprisingly and unexpectedly released the finished game in May 2008. At this point it was kind of a little milestone, since it was the first ever released homebrew to fully incorporate sound. The game inspired with a lot of cool Affine effects and later became fourth in the PVB Coding Competition.
After the quick history lesson, let's have a closer look at the game.
Upon boot, we're starting with Virtual-E versions of the precaution and adjustment screens. The following intro lets a Tron logo, followed by a bunch of plates fly into the player's face, before the following title screen with a zooming in logo and a Mode 7 like Affine background ask you to press a button.
The next cool idea can be seen on the next screen in form of a little game intro. It shows some info, which, while appearing on the screen letter by letter, tilts back. After a shortly faded in „Ready“ on the next screen, we then seem to drop onto the playfield from very high.
The gameplay is easy. From a bird's eye prespective you see a squre playfield, on which several futuristic bikes build up walls behind them while driving around. These can change their direction only by right angles. The player has to avoid any walls and try to encapsulte his enemies in walls. Or simple survive longer than the others.
At the beginning, there's only one enemy, later they become three of our. Plus in higher levels there'll be more and more obstacles in form of little blocks in the middle of the playfield.
The hud on the top of the screen shows a timer in the upper left corner, counting down, although the game always end before it reaches zero. In the middle of the hud, we see our score and in the top right, there our remaining lives. We have 3 in total.
After you die you'll see a „Game Over“ message, followed by „New Record“ and your scorin case you were good enough. Both tilt into the screen like the text in the game intro.
The problem of the game is a central one, unfortunately. It's the gameplay, which becomes boring too quickly. Instead of thrilling bike fights you actually just stay in your bottom left corner most of the time and try not to waste too much space until the other bikes crash into their own walls.
What remains is the hunt for highscores. Here we see a little design flaw, because the current top score is only shown, if you wait a little while on the title screen without pressing any button. Try to guess that. Furthermore, there's no save feature, but that's not very important for a single score anyway.
Despite its flaws, Tron is a well made game, which has some cool ideas and Affine gadgetry and is nice to look at. Not to forget, that Alberto once again achieved a pioneer piece with the complete incorporation of sound in form of music pieces and sound effects. As said earlier, this was the first every released homebrew to do this.
Since, due to optimization for real hardware, the game suffers from some graphic bugs on the emulator and should therefore be played on a real Virtual Boy, for example using a FlashBoy.
Unfortunately, the gameplay fails to entertain in the long term, but all the cool Affine effects and simplistic but nice graphics make Tron beautiful to look at. Thanks to some good ideas and last but not least the complete sound support, Tron is interesting - especially to other coders.
Overall (Not an Average):
(How good is this game compared to its commercial