Tuesday, May 31, 2016

VGR TRON 2.0: Killer App (Game Boy Advance)

You thought me long finished with the TRON series? (Those were some of my first reviews on my blog!)

Well, not exactly!

The Grid. A digital frontier. I kept dreaming of a world I thought I'd never see. And then, one day...

VGR: TRON 2.0: Killer App 
From Digital Eclipse Software/Buena Vista Interactive/Midway (for the original arcade games)
Played on Game Boy Advance
Also available on /

Type Top-down isometric
action game with elements of FPS, puzzle, driving and mini-games
Year Oct. 2004

Welcome back to The GRID!

The original TRON is a timeless classic! A true revolution in special effects, a cult classic, even though the film actually bombed at the box officer at the time.

Despite any odds, the franchise would finally come back big time in the 2000s, first in a spectacular first person shooter Tron 2.0, and more surprisingly with a big budget modern sequel with Tron: Legacy. But despite the quality of these subsequent follow-ups, the series never made enough money for Disney, and it seems Tron is now put on ice indefinitely once more.

In its short run, several comics and games were released over the years despite there being only two long distanced apart major movie releases.

This here is Tron 2.0 Killer App. A Game Boy Advance title released around Tron 2.0 which featured a completely different story and gameplay from its PC counterpart. Not to be confused with the similarly titled Xbox port of the PC game.

TRON 2.0: Killer App is one of the very rare instances in the entire Tron franchise where we actually get to follow the perspective of its titular character - TRON!

The story kind of encapsulates the hack happening at the beginning of its sister title TRON 2.0, which would kickstart the events of that game. So it's kinda of a prequel to it.

The ENCOM Corporation's computers are under attack by some mysterious hacker (probably the antagonist of Tron 2.0). The legendary program TRON is reactivated to help save the day and help the Users! He is sent through The Grid to locate the source of the hack, clean other infected programs and prevent these viruses from spreading through the system.

As there's an increase of infected programs, TRON encounters and befriends Mercury, the main female Light Cycle program from Tron 2.0. She helps him while working with an User outside in the real world fans of the original movie will recognize.

The story is told via numerous screenshots. More surprisingly, the entire story is actually voiced despite this being a Game Boy Advance cartridge!!

There's two separate campaigns with their own difficulty levels and stages, the player can choose to play as either Tron or Mercury!

Gameplay takes the form of an isometric top-down action game... well, for the most part.

There's a lot of other different sequences that will keep changing the pace of the game.

But for the most part you're simply exploring these huge maze-like open levels. With a lot of platforms. Your main weapon is either the disc if you're playing Tron, or the light cycle stick if you're playing Mercury. At first it's pretty linear and there's only a couple of simple enemies after you, but later on your progress will be block by spawning viruses, hordes of tougher bigger and better defended foes. Be smart or you will get derezzed!

And the stages will get impressively more complex, requiring some careful planning to obtain missing keys to open up new paths!

A pretty original feature introduced in this game would become the standard of most modern big budget games nowadays regardless of the genre, the game allows the player to obtain upgrades and new abilities and equip them to your character to mark a sense of progression as you play through this adventure! It's nice to be able to personalize this experience and enhance whatever skills you prefer to rely on!

But there's more to Killer App than just facing viruses and throwing discs at your enemies. 

In between levels you might have to... drive up to the next locations! Enter bonus driving segments in retro aesthatics!

You get to control Tanks, Recognizers and the Light Cycles

Tanks shooting stages and Recognizers flying stages take the form of first person segments. And don't let the low quality of the Game Boy Advance put you off, the limited graphics are really taken advance of by mimicking retro shooters! It actually looks and feels like Tron!

The Light Cycles battles will also pop up every now and then, inspired by the original classic Tron arcade games. But those are ridiculously easy compare to the rest.

And just like your action segments, you can also enhance and upgrade all of these different vehicles!

Finally there's also a couple of hacking mini-games which were fun enough at the start, but also got pretty tiresome and bothersome later on. 

The hacking becomes increasingly frustrating as you progress through the game. They made those really difficult. Plus you're always forced to do these and they cannot be skipped. So you will probably end up failing several times on a tricky part only to get more enemies spawned on the game. Failing these a lot of times just to get one last key can be really annoying... Why couldn't they let you use an alternative route?

Aside from the hacking, the game is fairly diverse and fun. It's a pretty long title for an handheld title, even more so if you attempt to go through both campaigns as a New Game+ of sorts.

It's pretty well made, original and competent if you can endure some of its slightly more annoying and kinda repetitive bits. But it's fun and challenging!

Finally there's a really nice bonus, in the form of the original TRON and Discs of TRON arcade games by Midway! Those are unlockable and included as extra mini-games! This marks actually the first time those classic games have ever been ported or re-released!

Overall, Killer App is a pretty decent game for a video game based on a movie! 

The game itself offers a decent mix of variety. Only the hacking parts got kind of frustrating as you go along. But the classic Tron arcade games more than make up for it. Check it Out!

What really surprising me was to just see the entire story voiced on a GBA title!

Originally a port was also planned for the Gizmondo, but that got quickly scrapped due to the failure of that system.
I give it:
2 / 3 Invaders!

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