Monday, September 2, 2013 09:34:55

Review: LightSpeeder Offers a Tron Racing Experience At Breakneck Speeds


You guys know T. Fergason, right? He's one of the community's most prolific and articulate curators, so when he says a third-party game is better than the official one, I take note. Here's what he had to say about LightSpeeder in his channel, Space, Aliens, Robots and Mecha:

Better than the official TRON app. This interpretation has charming 8-bit characters, power-ups, and environmental hazards to keep the gameplay fresh and interesting.

Such a hearty endorsement combined with the game's price tag (free!) made checking it out an easy decision to make.

Concept and Gameplay


Racked up three power-ups, racing towards an opponent.

What if we were all living inside a computer game where we rode light cycles in frantic races to the death? Exciting! Oh, you've heard this one before? While LightSpeeder does introduce a handful of original concept to the breakneck world of light cycle racing, the core concept is one most of us are familiar with: You're riding a fast light cycle inside a dark, enclosed field. Your vehicle leaves a trail of light in its wake (hence the name). Anyone bumping up against this trail, dies an instant, pixelated death. The same goes for you: Bump into your own trail, or that of a rival, and you die.

This sets up the game's main tension: You'll have to twist and wind your way to cleverly avoid trails while hopelessly ensnaring your opponents, making them crash. Being a virtual vehicle, your light cycle isn't bound by the laws of physics: All turns are 90-degree turns, and they're instantaneous. You will soon find yourself riding right into a wall before turning at the very last fraction of a second.

Along the way you'll pick up coins, as well as power-ups that let you jump, boost your speed, and more. Actually, quick jumps don't require a power-up: Your motorcycle has a built-in ability to perform modest jumps. You can't hop along like a kangaroo, though - you can only execute a jump every few seconds, and you'll have to time it very carefully if you want to hop over a light trail.

There are also multiple vehicles which you unlock over time, as well as multiple courses.

Graphics and Sound


Can you see the resemblance to Lego?

If you enjoy the retro-pixelated 8-bit look, you're in for a treat. LightSpeeder's racers and vehicles look like Lego figures, made up solely of right angles and smooth surfaces. This visual simplicity translates into incredible responsiveness - the game feels fast and fluid. In fact, it's almost too fast at times.

While the background music is unfortunately grating, it's mixed in so that it's softer than the effects. This is good, because the main thing you'll note while playing are the engine sounds, and the sounds produced by turning and crashing.

It's Hard!

While LightSpeeder is a very well-produced game that offers plenty of variety, you should know that it's a hard game. Try as I might, I was unable to make significant progress with it. That said, maybe your reflexes are sharper than mine. If you're a Tron fan, go hop on that light cycle and show those baddies who's boss.