Playing through the main story mode in Tron 2.0: Killer App for the Game Boy Advance is a chore, since it's just another generic jump-and-shoot action romp that barely squeaks by. And it only makes it because of the engaging story and unique visuals and audio. Aside from the story mode, however, the cartridge also includes eight stand-alone subgames that may provide some people hours of enjoyment all by themselves.
Combat involves no technique and most levels require more walking than jumping or thinking.
There's no faulting the game's story, which picks up where the motion picture left off. Following Tron's victory over the Master Control Program, he was put to sleep and life in the ENCOM mainframe went back to normal. Sometime later, a villainous user (people in the real world are called "users," whereas people in the digital world are called "programs") inserted a virus program into the mainframe that ruined the electronic landscape and turned friendly programs into mindless killers. Alan Bradley, ENCOM's chief programmer and Tron's user, awakens Tron and sends him in to take care of the problem. The thought that a world exists in every computer just like our own is a compelling one, and Tron 2.0 brings the concept to life by populating its digital world with programs that live, breath, socialize, and go on about their lives just like humans do in the real world. With specific regard to the GBA game, this story is told through scores of dialogue sequences, many of which feature the actual voices of Rebecca Romijn and Bruce Boxleitner.
Players can go through the story mode with two different characters: Tron, voiced by Boxleitner, and Mercury, a light cycle program voiced by Rebecca Romijn. Each character has its own set of roughly 15 levels. Certain bosses, upgrades, and story elements are also exclusive to a particular character. Most levels are presented from an isometric perspective, which provides the illusion of a 3D environment. Unfortunately, these isometric levels are drawn out, so they're not altogether interesting or fun. The amount of detail visible in the environments isn't great and the animation for the characters is pretty minimal, but the game still looks charming because the color schemes and art style duplicate the high-tech look of the movie. Large portions are devoted to just walking around and jumping across gaps, and combat is limited to merely tossing a flying disc at enemies over and over until they disappear. Different power-up items can be gathered to provide stronger weapons, and there are chips that can be collected to upgrade a character's energy, aim, and strength, but these things don't change how you handle enemies or go through a level one bit.
At various points in the story mode, you'll have to hack into a terminal or travel from one section of the mainframe to another, which means completing a Tron-themed minigame. Three of these involve puzzles, such as moving and rotating pieces in order to complete a circuit or shooting through a wall of blocks to get at a firewall program on the other side. The other three minigames are combat tasks that put players into the light cycle, recognizer, and tank vehicles, which should be all too familiar to fans of the film. In the light cycle game, the goal is to steer your bike so that the CPU ends up crashing into the energy walls produced by your exhaust. However, you'll want to avoid running into energy walls or crashing into the walls of the arena in the process. The whole thing matches the related scene from the movie really well, even though the top-down viewpoint, grid-based background, and two-tone walls barely tap the low end of what the GBA can do graphically. By contrast, the recognizer (flyer) and tank games actually use a ray-casting engine to portray 3D mazes composed of colorful walls and filled with enemy tanks and recognizers. The general idea here is to steer your tank or recognizer around, shoot at enemy vehicles, and locate the exit. As in the isometric levels, different power-ups and chips can be collected to give vehicles new weapons or color schemes.