‘Tron: Legacy’ and ‘Tron: Evolution’ -- the future is now

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Jay West drops by the Hero Complex today with dispatches from his ongoing odyssey as a ‘Tron’ fan. Over the past few years there’s been a lot of excitement building for the return of ‘Tron’ and West has been there throughout, watching the glow of the light cycles brighten on the horizon. West also reviewed the new video game based on ‘Avatar’ for the Hero Complex, a piece that is stirring up some vigorous debate in the comments section.

‘Greetings Programs....’

Spike TV Channel staged its annual video game award bash this past weekend at the L.A. Live complex and the big reveal of the night was the world premiere of ‘Tron: Evolution,’ the tie-in game for ‘Tron: Legacy,’ which is easily one of the most anticipated films of 2010.

Riding high on the buzz from the past two editions of Comic-Con International and Disney’s D23 Convention the Dec. 17, 2010, film is the sequel to the groundbreaking 1982 classic ‘Tron,’ which was a prescient melding of cinema and gaming. That’s created considerable pressure on the makers of the tie-in video game to create something truly special for this 21st century revisitation of the franchise.


This unveiling came as the audience first was treated to footage of two video game warriors engaged in a taut, light-cycle competition displayed on sprawling LED backdrop to the show’s stage. This footage was previously shown at the 2008 Comic-Con in San Diego during the close of the Walt Disney Pictures panel and promptly achieved cult status with the 5,000 people in attendance and the many, many more who would see it later on the Internet. At that first public showing, it took just a heartbeat or two before the audience realized what it was watching and there was a surge in cheers and wild applause. Within minutes, websites went ablaze with word that a new ‘Tron’ was in the works (and it was later announced that they had in fact played an influential role in Disney’s final go-ahead decision on the sequel).

At this past Comic-Con, Disney had something different up its sleeve. There was an excellent panel (which included concept artwork and test footage of an actor doing acrobatic spins while throwing a Tron warrior disc) but Disney, in keeping with the theme of the sequel’s story line, also launched a ‘search for Kevin Flynn’ scavenger hunt. Participants in the quest could use black lights to illuminate randomly posted posters throughout San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter to acquire coordinates to a secret location. This location was ultimately revealed to be a re-creation of Flynn’s arcade from the original ‘Tron’ movie.

The arcade had classics (Pac-Man, Berzerk, Defender, Missile Command and Joust among them) but the true stunner were the presence of playable Space Paranoids arcade games (fictional arcade games designed by the Kevin Flynn character and seen in the original film, but never manufactured as actual arcade games) were present and playable. The original, highly popular Bally/Midway 1982 ‘Tron’ arcade game was at the back of the arcade’s wall -- and at one point, it was moved forward to reveal a doorway. That doorway opened to reveal a darkened tunnel with illuminated light-cycle concept artwork lining the walls. Follow the path back and, as you turned a corner, you encountered a full-size replica of the new design for the ‘Tron Legacy’ light cycle. It was a stunning experience for fans. A new track created by Daft Punk (the French DJ duo who has created music for the new film) also debuted upon the reveal of the light cycle. This event created strong word of mouth and was hearkened by many in attendance as the highlight of the entire Comic-Con convention. I was lucky enough to be there, here’s some video I shot...

The life-size light cycle also made an appearance at D23 and then again at the Spike VGA show when Olivia Wilde, the ‘House’ actress who is playing Quorra in ‘Tron: Legacy’ was revealed behind a portion of the stage’s LED backdrop (and here too, Daft Punk’s track echoed as digital-spirit accompaniment). Wilde spoke of the new ‘Tron’ game as a ‘key to unlocking the film’s mythology.’ She introduced the trailer -- which includes situations and events that take place just before those in the upcoming film.

The game trailer relays classic ‘Tron’ action with new nuances and enhancements. Notably, there’s a new villain introduced; the mysterious, caped figure speaks of incurring total wrath and destruction -- and also shows that he is very capable of wielding a light disc. The trailer also shows other video-game warriors engaged in intense battle and a newly designed ‘recognizer’ craft soars over -- and finally, two video game warriors face off in a deadly disc battle. The trailer concludes with the words ‘Enter the Grid Holiday 2010' -- suggesting, no surprise, that the release date is pegged to the film. The current word is that it will be lined up to be a cross-platform game -- for the Xbox 360, PS3 and PC and is being developed by Propaganda Games, makers of ‘Turok‘and ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: Armada of the Damned.’

Suffice to say -- there’s huge anticipation surrounding the return of ‘Tron’ in both movie and game form. The original film represented a special moment in Hollywood and video games -- and ultimately pioneered cinema special effects in its use of CGI in film. Many in the fanboy community have already declared 2010 to be ‘The Year of Tron.’ For those of you in the Los Angeles area who’d like to sync up with that celebration, check out the electronic billboard at the intersection of Santa Monica and Glendon in Westwood -- a new ‘Tron: Legacy’ image will be revealed monthly at this location leading up to the big day in December 2010.

‘End of line...’

- Jay West


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