With its polished graphics and big-name movie license, Tron 2.0: Discs of Tron looks like an interesting, complex effort upon first inspection. After a few games, however, you'll realize that it is actually a repetitive and extremely frustrating experience.
Basically, gameplay involves the player standing on a hovering platform and then throwing a Frisbee-like disc at similarly-armed enemies. Discs of Tron has a first-person perspective, making it more like the PC-based Tron 2.0 than the arcade classic Discs of Tron. Adversaries appear three at a time and reaching them often requires moving the screen horizontally. The 2 key fires your disc and 8 activates a shield.
The Discs of Tron screen setup makes gameplay straightforward. The heads-up display shows energy, enemies left, current level, and score. Losing all 10 energy bars will end the game, while destroying all enemies will move you on to the next level. Two power-ups are available, but rarely do they appear. They are the Super-Disc, which makes the next disc toss lethal, and the self-explanatory health rejuvenator.
There are five levels in total, and each subsequent one features a higher number of enemies. Each level becomes increasingly difficult and concludes with a boss, who is much like other enemies except that he wears a round, marble shield that must be destroyed.
Many factors make playing Discs of Tron an awkward, often-frustrating experience. The most obvious of these factors regards the game's perspective. Accurately hitting an enemy requires that he be within range of your small target cursor. The enemy, as a result of the first-person perspective, can hit you while he is anywhere on the screen. A majority of the game is spent throwing the disc, quickly moving left or right to get the enemy off of the screen, and then repeating the process. A shield move is included, but it is only "up" in two-second intervals, thus making it a slow, impractical defense. Another trick is to intercept an enemy disc with your own to cancel out both attacks. However, the computer can recover and fire again much faster than you are able to, which makes you easy pickings for the artificial intelligence.
The enemies in Discs of Tron are aggressive and are often unfair. Getting hit by an enemy disc will usually take away one energy bar, but quite often it will take two. It's not unusual for a disc to fly from a just-disposed-of enemy, which presents a frustrating scenario when you're not sure whether his potshot will take one or two bars away from your life.
The level-select interface is not user-friendly, which is a serious issue in such a difficult game. Beating a level will give you a four-digit code that you can use to continue the game from where you left off the next time you play it. The code feature is an interesting twist not often found in cell phone games, allowing you to share level codes with your friends. The problem is that Lavastorm did not create a quick way to replay the same level when you die. As a result, brief, often difficult games of Discs of Tron are punctuated by long, tedious data entry. To add insult to injury, the level-completion screen shows the code for two seconds before starting the next level. Unfortunately, if you miss the code, you're out of luck.
The only outstanding feature of Discs of Tron is its graphics. Majestic purples and blues color grid-mountain backgrounds, portraying the beauty and the coldness of a computer. The large enemies wear bright-red energy suits and wince when hit, coming to life on the cell-phone screen. The hovering vehicles themselves are a combination of deep blue and stark white, blending gradually and giving the game a sense of depth and height.
On the other hand, the sound effects and music in Discs of Tron are problematic. Any in-game action creates a "Beep!" that is of such a high pitch that it can induce a headache.
Discs of Tron, perhaps understanding the frustration the game would cause, provides a short, inspirational message after every loss: "You are terminated, Jet. You are not worthy of the next Tron adventure--Battle Tanks." Unfortunately, any player who manages to get through the five frustrating levels of play will only be treated to the title screen. This is a bad ending for an equally bad game.