While Disney hasn’t had too much success in the video game industry recently, one series they can usually fall back on is Tron. The video game inspired movie series has had its ups and down as a gaming franchise, with a successful arcade game just named Tron and an FPS called Tron 2.0 that are usually considered the highlights. Disney takes another shot at a Tron video game with Tron Run/r, an entry to the endless runner genre that has become popular as of late. Does this game manage to join the successful Tron games, or should it have been derezzed?
Tron Run/r consists of two different game modes. The first mode is Disc Mode that takes place in Tron City and is easily the stronger of the two. You’ll be running on foot with a goal of getting to the end of the level without getting killed. Along the way, you’ll need to jump over gaps, slide under barriers, run along walls, and even sometimes throw your Light Disc at enemies. It all works quite well, and stringing together combos of jumps, dives, dodges, and throws quickly became delightful. Barriers are put up to block your way, and you can destroy them to reveal secrets as well. I came to enjoy this mode and found it to be a great balance of skill and challenge.
For as much as I liked Disc Mode, it had some problems as well. You have three lives to get through a course, but sometimes, upon losing one, I’d find myself respawned either above a drop or with an undodgeable barrier in front of me, costing me a second life. I also found myself annoyed at the Light Disc, as sometimes it just wouldn’t go towards the thing I needed it to, and there’s no real way to aim it. Sometimes I would go down a slope, and the camera movement would mask that there’s a threat right at the bottom, making me feel more like I was supposed to memorize that the threat was there rather than see and react to it. All of these things happened just enough for me to notice them, but not enough for me to become frustrated.
The second mode is Cycle Mode, and it takes place in a sector called Whiteout. Here you’ll be riding a Light Cycle and trying to reach the end of the area before time runs out. I didn’t find this mode to be as smooth as the Disc Mode, nor was it filled with as much variety. You have to drift around sharp turns, which is a fine gameplay element, but also one that felt like it didn’t work as often as it should. I never truly felt like I had the control over my Light Cycle that I needed. Occasionally I was attacked by enemy Light Cycles, but at times I felt like my attacks were just going through them sometimes, and I couldn’t ever find any way to guarantee my attacks would hit them every time.
Not to say Cycle Mode isn’t still fun. The mode is a race against the clock, and the main goal is to speed through time gates to keep my time from getting too low before I finish the level. The Cycle does an excellent job conveying a feeling of speed, and I always found the challenges to be fair even with the aforementioned control issues. Similar to Disc Mode, you’ll find bits that you can collect to raise your multiplier. Despite finding Cycle harder to play, I found its point system to be far easier to rack up the required scores for three stars. Just hitting the time gates already gets you massive amounts of points, and I finished nearly every Cycle level with three stars, and I finished with two on the ones that I didn’t.
As you run and drive, you’ll be collecting Bits along the way. You can use these Bits to purchase one-use power-ups and companions for your runs. Both Disc and Cycle have their unique options. Companions provide passive effects that are always in use, like picking up Bits from a distance or destroying enemies. They last until you’re hit for the first time and provide both incentive to make sure your run is a little more perfect, and helpful abilities for a level that is giving you trouble otherwise. Power-ups are one use items that can give you a serious advantage, like freezing the timer in Cycle Mode, or destroying all nearby barriers in Disc Mode. Choosing where to use a power-up is important, as once you use it you can’t get it back.
Both Disc and Cycle mode have sixteen levels each, all of which took me somewhere around four hours to finish. This is where the Stream comes in, adding in important replay value to Tron Run/r. This mode is infinite, giving you a single life and seeing how long you can continue to run. You’ll constantly be switching between Disc and Cycle mode as you move, changing up how you play and making you adapt to the new challenges. You can’t take any power-ups on your runs, though companions are still available. I found Stream to be the best part of Tron Run/r, and easily the reason I’ll want to revisit this game in the future.
It all looks great too, fitting in with Tron’s aesthetic style well. The game makes good use of its neon colors, and at times, I wished I could have slowed down to look at things better. The ability to customize your character lets you also take on some fun models, including the original Tron. On the other hand, the mostly underwhelming soundtrack is a bit of a miss. There’re a few good songs, one particular neat one kept ramping up in volume and intensity as it went which was great with the running gameplay, but most are just utterly forgettable.
I haven’t played too many games in the runner genre, but I’m happy to say that Tron Run/r jumped up to the top of my favorites. It has some rough edges that could have used some polish, but I’ll be finding myself returning to the game in the future and continue to give the Stream one more run in attempts to push my score just a little bit higher.
Tron Run/r is easily one of my favorite take on the runner genre, even despite the occasional stumble. This is not a game that you should derezz anytime soon.