Category Archives: TRON

TRON arcade game clones for the CoCo

My all-time favorite arcade game was TRON, probably due to its connection with the Disney movie. I do not know if I played it much when it first came out, but during the time I lived in Broaddus, Texas (1985-1986 era) the local cafe had a TRON machine. I would walk home from school, stop in to get a .25 iced tea, and play TRON. I do not know how good I was at it, but I remember playing past enough levels that the game seemed to repeat and slow down.

Since then, I have only encountered TRON a few times. After moving to Des Moines, Iowa in 1995, I found a TRON in an arcade at our local Adventureland amusement park. I recall playing it there, but the joystick or spinner was in pretty bad shape.

I remember attending an arcade auction and a TRON game came up, but I stopped bidding at $250. I really wish I hadn’t, since years later, a TRON machine was for sale locally … for $1500.

My real interest in TRON came when a local bar-arcade opened and had a machine. I would stop by on my way home from work most days and play until I beat my previous score. Eventually, I had one “perfect” game where I got the score all the way up to where it would flip back over to 0 … and died on purpose. I was concerned that if I rolled the game back to 0, I wouldn’t get to enter my initials ;-)

My TRON high score from 2014.

This earned me a place on Up-Down’s wall of fame.

My TRON high score, immortalized in an instant photo.

To the best of my knowledge, that photo is still there, though the TRON machine died not too long after. They did get a TRON back a few times, but they all had issues — spinners that didn’t work, joystick that wouldn’t go in all directions, sound didn’t work, messed up screen, etc. I am very glad I got to play on a “good” machine all those times.


Recently, I came across a video for a CoCo game called ElecTRON. I had forgotten about this TRON clone!

Then, I accidentally came across another CoCo game called KRON, which was another clone of TRON.

I now recall seeing both of these “back in the day” (and I likely had a “borrowed” copy of both of them at some point), but neither was a very good home version of TRON. It’s hard to replicate a game that needs a spinner and flight stick with a trigger ;-)

I just thought I’d share my TRON story, so there it is.

You can play these games online here:

Have fun! But probably not…

TRON arcade game joystick research

  • 2014/01/28: Updated information on 4-way restrictor for flight stick.
  • 2015/02/18: A note about the HAPP joystick, and restrictor plates being made for it.

A friend of mine is in the process of building a custom arcade controller for home use. Here is some of the research that may be of interest to others trying to replicate the 1982 TRON arcade game controls. (A flight stick with a trigger button, and a paddle spinner controller).

The TRON handle can be bought from Groovy Game Gear. They claim they are using the original molds and also used the original color key chip to match the color as close as possible to the originals that were made in 1982:

This handle is designed to replace the one for an original arcade stick, but folks have been modifying other types of joysticks to make it attach. No details on this, yet.

Next, there is a low-cost trigger stick from It is available in several places:

$20 – Paradise Arcade Shop in Hawaii:

They also sell it on, for $22, but shipping is cheaper there (currently $26.83 for the stick and shipping): also sells it direct through Holland Computers:

The stick is incorrectly described (on Amazon and at Holland) as a 4/8 way switchable stick. It is not. You need a restrictor plate to make it 4-way like the arcade TRON stick is. I have not located a restrictor plate for this joystick yet, but Paradise Arcade Shop says they may be able to custom make one.

Update: There is also a higher priced HAPP joystick commonly used for TRON:

That stick is also an 8-way, but my same friend who is building the custom arcade controller now has a 3-D printer and has designed a 4-way restrictor plate for this. He will be offering them for sale, so contact me if you are interested.

As for spinner controllers, there seems to be two candidates. One is sold by Groovy Game Gear. It is the Turbo Twist 2 and it runs about $70:

Ultimarc also sells a spinner for the same price called the SpinTrak:

No details on which one is better for this purpose.

More to come…