'Tron' is also the name of the first arcade game
to be based on the film. It was released in 1983
by Bally Midway
, and was followed a year later by the same company's 'Discs of Tron
'. This latter was intended as an element of the original 'Tron' but it was felt, rightly, that it would be a hit on its own.
The machine featured an unusual control arrangement consisting of a joystick (translucent and backlit; 'Tron' was a big-budget affair, just like the film) and a paddle. Gameplay was divided into four sections, on completion of which the game became harder. The sections were:
The tank bit, in which the player drove a tank around a maze in the manner of 'Wizard of Wor', but with an independently-traversing turret;
The famous bit, with the light cycles, in which the player must lure opponents into a trail of light laid down by his or her motorbike;
The grid bug bit, based on a creature barely seen in the film, in which the player had to shoot bugs which blocked the path to a transporter. This was very dull and became extraordinarily hard in later levels. The player character's arm was controlled independently of his body, and could be made to perform some intricate dances and Nazi salutes; a similar control method appeared many years later in the PC game 'Trespasser';
The 'Breakout' / 'Gorf' bit, in which the player had to shoot holes in a moving wall.
All four sections had to be completed in order to progress to the next level. Levels were named after programming languages, such as BASIC and PASCAL. After the first level the game became almost impossibly hard, and it was one of the earliest games to have a 'continue' option.
Apart from the arcade machines, 'Tron' was mined for inspiration by countless computer games. Apart from the standard 'Light Cycle' clones, there were several 8-bit games based on the 'driving a tank through a valley, shooting at hovering enemies' section (Steve Turner's 'Seiddab Attack' being the most memorable), and Jeff Minter's 'Gridrunner' was based loosely on the 'flying a spaceship along a wire' section.
Although the film was touted as being a festival of computer graphics, it apparently only features fifteen minutes of proper CGI; the backdrops, sets and most of the landscapes are actually airbrushed art. In 2002 Disney released it on DVD, in a two-disc set with lots of extras; furthermore, they released Wendy Carlos' soundtrack for the first time on CD. Coupled with the re-release and rediscovery of much media from the late-70s and early-80s it would appear that late-twentysomething adult males are the new teenage market.
"You ain't making me talk, Mr high and mighty Master Control."