Classic Tron Arcade Game
What it is:
Tron is a stand up arcade game from 1982, produced by Bally Midway. This amazing piece of history is 30 year old technology and it still sends chills up my spine when I see it’s ominous blue glow in the dark. Tron the video game was created as a tie-in to the movie by the same name. Disney had created Tron as one of the first CGI movies in history back in 1982. The story was that a young video game designer named Kevin Flynn who worked for a fictional company named ENCOM. His code was stolen from a fellow programmer named Ed Dillinger. Ed becomes a VP at ENCOM and fires Flynn. Flynn decides to break into ENICOM and find out what happened to his programs. While in the experimental sciences lab and hacking away at a terminal. an almost scient program called the Master Control Program begins to communicate to Flynn and tell him to stop. Just so happens the MCP has control over everything at ENCOM, including a particle beam ray that can break down matter and transport it. The MCP takes aim at Flynn and pulls him into the main computer systems at ENCOM. There Flynn sees programs represented as people and is able to interact with them. He also able to ride CGI light cycles and play the games he programed, only now it’s for real!
The very same video game you could play in the arcade was the one that Flynn had in his arcade. Being able to play the actual games Flynn played in the movie, in your local arcade, pulled you even deeper into the world of Tron. The name Tron comes from the name of a security program created by Alan Bradley to monitor communications between the Master Control Program and the real world. Flynn meets Tron face to face in this digital CGI world.
Here’s a little tidbit of history. If it wasn’t for Tron, we may not have had Toy Story or Pixar for that matter. A young man named John Lasseter was working at Disney Animation Studios back in the early 1980s. John had a bunch of his friends working on the Tron project. The first stills he saw were the lightcycle sequences. He said it just blew him away. From that point on, he wanted to do CGI animation. Eventually, he pitched the idea of all CGI animated movie to the Disney executives. That very same day he was fired from Disney. John went on to join Lucas Computer Graphics devision then went on to found Pixar with funding help from Steve Jobs. Today he is the chief creative officer at Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios.
How Much it Costs:
The original arcade game you see in the video can get pricey. They range in price from $900-$4000. On the low end most are not in working order. Good news though, you can play the games for free online!
Another option is to use an emulator called MAME (Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator). This free emulator will run on a PC and you can download the original Tron ROM and play the game exactly how it was. (http://mamedev.org/). If you are DYI kind of person you can build your own Mame cabinet – (http://www.instructables.com/id/MAME-Cabinet-in-4-key-steps/). If you are going exclusively for the Tron look, you can download all the artwork, add some black lights and you can get very close to the original. This route can save you thousands of dollars.
Lastly you can find these non working versions for only $100 in some cases. You can peice one together from parts on line that range from $6-$70. I’ve seen the circuit board with the program on it go for $12.
Is It Worth It?:
To buy this game as a turn key ready to go arcade game it’ll cost upwards of $1300. You can build a MAME version or piece together the original, saving some money. As a piece of collectable geek history, this thing is off the chart. It looks amazing, especially in the dark, it is extremely addictive to play and even younger kids enjoy it. If you can figure out a way to get one, I’d highly recommend it.
Special thanks to Tron collector extraordinaire Brian Vox for letting me show off his fine collection of games!