TRON® Deadly Discs

INTELLIVISION CARTRIDGE [Mattel Electronics #5305]

Release #36  1982

Working title: TRON I

Based on the Walt Disney Productions motion picture TRON

Design & Program: Steve Sents

Graphics: Eric Wells

Sound: Bill Goodrich

Package Illustration: Jerrol Richardson

Instructions Posted Here


Our hero, Tron, is locked in battle against the Evil Blue Warriors. Not only do you have to be quick, you have to be accurate, too. The EBWs don't sail their deadly discs at you like frisbees, they bounce them off mirrors first. You have to catch them -- without fail. And action is only half the game, you have to use your wits too. Quick action and smart strategy will help you defend against the Evil Blue Warriors.

  • One player game
  • Intense strategy and action
  • Ricocheting discs


TRON Deadly Discs was in production at the same time as TRON, the Disney movie; the design for the game was based on storyboards and production stills from the film.

Mattel Electronics bet a lot of dough that the movie would be a phenomenon. A state-of-the-art special effect film about video games, the hottest trend in the country -- how could it miss? Well, it did. The lukewarm reception the movie received did little to boost interest in the six TRON games Mattel released (four originals, two conversions). TRON Deadly Discs, though, was a strong enough game in its own right to garner good reviews and word-of-mouth; it went on to sell over 300,000 copies -- a respectable number, but only about a third what Marketing was hoping for. Ironically, the original production run was planned to be 350,000, but at the last minute it was increased to 800,000. "The reason for the increase," explained Marketing man Dick Baumbusch in a June 1, 1982 memo, "is due to the anticipated popularity of the Tron film and the fact that we will feature it in a commercial this Fall. Also, the international demand for Tron will limit any downside risk." It was this type of forecasting that put Intellivision where it is today.

In answer to a frequent question, there was no connection between the production of Mattel's TRON video games and the arcade games TRON and Discs of TRON. A separate company had licensed the arcade rights to the movie and there was no communication between them and Mattel.

Early catalogs listed TRON Deadly Discs (under its working title TRON I) as a Space Network cartridge; it was actually released as part of the Action Network.

An M Network Atari 2600 version and an Aquarius version were also released.

BUG: There is a trick that pretty much lets you rack up unlimited points, as first pointed out in a letter Mattel received November 3, 1982 from Steven M. Little, an Intellivision owner in Minneapolis: "Once you are able to open the top left and top right doors, which enables you to go in one door and out the other...just step out the right top or left top door and stay there...90% of the enemy discs go through you and your man is not hit or destroyed. If you stay at that position, you can reach a score of 1,000,000 very easily by just breaking the enemy's discs and...throwing your disc just enough to keep only one enemy on the board at all times. Once you reach close to a million points, don't destroy any more warriors. Just hold your disc in the block mode and break discs. If you do get hit just go back and forth for repair. (Never throw disc to destroy warrior for you may get a replacement that carries the stick.) I went from 1,000,000 to 10,000,000 with no problem."

PLAYING TIPS: From Intellivision Game Club News, Issue 5, Spring 1983:

• Keep moving because a moving target is hard to hit. Try to line up a shot where the Warrior is in front of an open door. That way you can de-rezz the attacker and jam open the door with just one disc.

• When a leader Warrior appears (dark blue), concentrate all of your shots at him since the Warriors become quicker and more accurate when he is on the game grid.

• To knock out the Recognizer, run to the very top center of the grid. From this position, you have a good chance of making a direct hit on his eye. However, in this position, you are very vulnerable to the Paralyzer Probe. Take aim, throw your disc quickly, and run out of the path of the Probe.

PLAYING TIP: This is the favorite Intellivision game of Blue Sky Ranger David Warhol (Mind Strike). He plays with one controller in each hand -- one for maneuvering (thumb on disc), one for throwing (thumb on keypad). "If you like Deadly Discs with one hand controller, you'll love it with two," he says. "Try it now and thank me later."

EASTER EGG: Deadly Discs fan Dave Warhol put together his own private version of the game, replacing the enemy warriors with the hot dogs from BurgerTime. He called the result Deadly Dogs. If you want to play it, it's hidden in the INTV Corporation release of Dig Dug: press 47 (4 and 7 simultaneously) on both hand controllers and press reset. The Deadly Dogs title screen will appear.