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Mattel went all-in with it's Tron license. Solar Sailer is the third of the original Tron-related titles.
Tron Solar Sailer was not a popular game, but by golly, it's a Tron game!
Graphics: The gameplay graphics are good, and the playfields are colorful–sometimes eye-searingly so. The Grid is well-populated with targets, but scrolling is choppy at higher speeds. On The Grid, try to stick to the odd-numbered tracks. When you get hauled back a track or two by a recognizer, pray you don't land on an even-numbered track. The color schemes on the even tracks are punishing. The odd tracks are the place to be! Much more soothing and Tron-like.
The font for status screen text is AWESOME. The similarity between status screens in Tron Solar Sailer and Vectron is unmistakable. As Keith Robinson was fond of mentioning, he and Mark Urbaniec sat across from each other during development, each working on his game, and the two were constantly one-upping and inspiring each other. That's clearly evident here.
Controls: Controls-wise, the idea of the scheme is sound, but in practice, changing beams and firing can be frustrating. Beam-changing works reasonably well, but 'misses' more often than you'd expect. Given the marathon nature of the game, you may get a sore thumb from all that beam-changing. Firing at grid bugs, tanks, etc. seems really erratic. Perhaps with pristine controllers it's better, but often shots seem to fire at angles quite a bit different than you'd expect.
Sound: The sound effects are good. Freezing a Recognizer produces a great sound effect. The tank firing shot probably sounds a lot cooler with some bass boost. The music—though frequently interrupted by other effects—is directly from the movie soundtrack, which is a great bonus.
Voices: Being an Intellivoice game, of course, means you need voices. As developer Keith Robinson was known to say in reference to the 'It Talks!' blurb on the box: It never shuts up! The game talks a lot. The verbal transmission of the access code to get to the next track is the most critical gameplay element. The status of beam energy is another one you'll hear all the time–and also important. There are quite a few different voices in the game, which is good for variety, but mostly you'll hear Yori: "We've been hit!" and Tron: "Energy [high | medium | low]!". Bit naturally only says "Yes!" and "No!". Alan's voice uses the standard male voice you hear for example in Space Spartans. And of course, the MCP is there just to insult and threaten you. The MCP's somewhat infamous mondegreen in this game became the basis for an in-house "adult" version of Astrosmash, used to make a point.
Gameplay: The worst complaint is hitting targets. Many times, you see the heart of the shot pass right through the center of a bug or tank, only to miss. On Track 1, life is tough. Often before being able to even begin speeding up, a recognizer swoops in and ... buh-bye!
Once you get the hang of 'beam riding' you can play this game a long, long time. The most frustrating thing to this long-in-the-tooth player is that the innermost tracks are really tough to get through. The Recognizers are fast and merciless and arrive in packs. This game can take a long time to finish, so get situated comfortably, use the pause feature, and don't have your console plugged into an outlet controlled by a wall switch! Best Score: 143,800–but failed to reach the MCP phase.
A total of two Tron Solar Sailer box variants have been documented.
A total of four Tron Solar Sailer manual variants have been documented.
Only one version of the overlay has been found for Tron Solar Sailer.
A total of two Tron Solar Sailer label variants have been documented.
Special Message Easter Egg
Credit: The official Intellivision Lives! site
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Page last updated 02-Jan-2022 17:58:30 UTC