When it comes to the convergence of video games and Hollywood, Tron was the first example of Hollywood getting it right. And in many ways, Hollywood hasn’t learned from this perfect marriage of game and film. At least, most of Hollywood.
Although the original Tron movie didn’t have a blockbuster theatrical run, the arcade game that was designed by Jeff Bridges’ Kevin Flynn in the movie became a hit in the real world. That game makes a return in the 3D sequel, Tron: Legacy.
The Walt Disney Company, which has explored previous Tron sequels in the video game space with titles like Tron 2.0: Killer App, has invested heavily in its latest convergence project. Disney Interactive Studios enlisted two developers to create a pair of video games that do more than just allow mainstream audiences and fanboys to jump on a light cycle or pilot a light jet.
Tron: Legacy director Joe Kosinski and producers Steve Lisberger and Sean Bailey worked closely with Disney and developers Propaganda Games (Tron: Evolution) and N-Space (Tron: Evolution – Battle Grids) to create these games that bridge the 28 years between the two films and delve deeper into the mythology that’s only touched upon in the new 3D film.
“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,” said Lisberger. “I think that’s a good relationship between games and films.”
Tron: Evolution -- Battle Grids for Wii offers a different story line that is set closer to the Tron of 1982, which is a more colorful world than the darker universe of Tron: Evolution and Tron: Legacy. The gameplay focuses on the action that takes place on the Grid with light cycles, tanks, and other vehicles and is aimed at the more mainstream Nintendo audience.
Tron: Evolution, which is available for all other game platforms, features the voice acting and likeness of Olivia Wilde as Quorra, James Frain as Jarvis, and Bruce Boxleitner as Tron. The game begins in 1990 and chronicles the progression of the computer world from the utopia that Jeff Bridges' Kevin Flynn envisioned to the dystopia that is the setting of Tron: Legacy.
“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,” said Jeremy Miller, character art director at Propaganda Games on Tron: Evolution. “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.”
Players take on the role of a program created by Flynn, operating just under Tron, assigned to resolve a problem that’s occurring in the system. Gameplay involves both on-foot exploration and light cycle action. Bailey said that gamers will be able to get quality time playing with all of the vehicles that are shown in the new film, as well as learn more about the back story of the key characters.
“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.”