Me to the lady showing the new Tron game for Wii this past weekend: "Don't you think a reporter would have a more favorable impression if you let him win?" Lady to me: "This makes it more memorable."
Who knew that Tron was made for trash-talking?
Tron Evolution: Battle Grids, the Tron game for Wii appears to have been made for that. It is, essentially, a Tron Olympics game. The fall Wii release has a single-player mode that I did not see at this past weekend's Penny Arcade Expo. It has multiplayer modes that I did see and in which I took some beatings.
The storyline for the Wii's Tron game precedes this fall's new Tron Legacy movie and Tron games for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. It is set closer to, though after, the events of the original 1982 film. The setting is a more idyllic time when people could play Tron-style games for sport. You engage in such competitions in any of the seven multiplayer modes designed for single-Wii couch play.
The first mode I tried, the one that got me trounced, was Light Cycle Battle. The lady showing the game and I each used a Wii Remote to race our light cycle riders on those iconic Tron bikes through an arena. Our goal was to get the other player to drive into our wake of light energy. My Tron opponent kept leaping her cycle over mine. I kept ramming my bike into hers. She shut me out.
I did better in the Light Discs battle. This had our Tron heroes on foot, jumping around on a floor made of shifting hexagonal platforms. As sections of the floor raised and lowered, the competitors in the arena could throw discs — including bomb discs — at each other. This was played a little less frantically than a Smash Bros., but seems to be designed for fairly rapid combat confined to a small arena.
The third game we played, Light Runners Arena, was another vehicular battle challenge. We brought computer-controlled opponents into the mix who then crushed us both. We were racing Tron-style cars. We should have gone with tanks. Why'd I let us skip the tank mode?
All of the Battle Grids games have alternate modes and some have control schemes for Wii and Nunchuk, while others just use the Wii Remote. You gain player points for your performance in each game, raising your skill stat as displayed on a line graph. Anyone who played Wii Sports will recognize that system and style of display.
Tron Evolution: Battle Grids feels like a the closest we're going to get to a Tron version Wii Sports. Simple controls, fast-paced competitions. The game is fun, even when you lose. When you lose, the experts say, it's memorable.