The 1980’s featured many robots, transforming or otherwise. There is no doubt in my mind that this led to my love of everything “Mecha” and the Transformers were the start of this robotic love affair. There have been many attempts at Transformer s videogames. I want to state that I’ve only ever played one bad Transformer game in my life: The Transformers: Mystery of Convoy. This game never saw an American release and for that we should be quite thankful. To this day, I still have no idea what was going on in this game. That being said, I want to showcase a few of the best Transformers games that I have played in celebration of the upcoming release of High Moon Studios’: Transformers The Fall of Cybertron.
Dueling Transformers Beast Wars: Strongest Beast Warrior Finals was a Gameboy Color game obviously based on the Beast Wars era of Transformers. In Japan, the Beast Wars unfolded a bit differently. This meant that characters which US fans had come to know intermingled with Japanese exclusive characters creating a whole new story. This was a fighter that featured just that. Megatron and Optimus Primal joined ranks with Galvatron and Lio Convoy and duke it out in one of the best fighters the Gameboy Color could produce. There may not have been a lot of characters but the fighting system was very well done. It should be noted that this is pretty much the closest thing Transformers fans received to an ACTUAL fighter.
Transformers: Autobots and Transformers: Decpeticons followed the events of the first live action movie. Now don’t go running away just because I said that; these games were definitely worth a play through. Being on the Nintendo DS, the graphics left something to be desired but to make up for it; players were able to name and customize their own Transformer for each faction depending on what title was purchased. During the game, players were able to scan different vehicles and change their appearance. This ability makes it unique and definitely one of my favorites.
Transformers, a self-titled PS2 title, for a long time, was the best there was. While it was based on the less than great “Armada” series, it did a lot of things right. Before I talk about what I liked, I want to point out the one flaw with this game: the inability to play as the Decepticons. I love Optimus Prime but he’s one of the few Autobots I like. Granted, Armada did feature different ‘Bots and ‘Cons but this only hindered me as there were even fewer that I could stand. Enough about that; players are given a choice of three Autobots to battle against the seemingly endless hordes of Decepticon drones. The levels are interestingly designed as they are open-world but seem to have a linear goal. An example would be an area can be fully open but you can only advance by climbing up to a certain area. It’s hard to describe. One of the most satisfying things to do in this game was to run, jump into the air, transform into a truck, and ram into a squad of patrolling drones! Add to that a final showdown with the biggest Transformer of them all and you have one the best Transformer titles available!
Transformers Tataki was another PS2 title in Japan. The game opens with a few remixed scenes from the animated movie rendered beautifully in CGI. At first glance, it looks like it is going to be the best thing since G1. Then you get to play the game. I want to point out that even though this game is Japanese, it features English voice acting (very bad English voice acting) and English text making it very import friendly. The ability to choose an Autobot or Decepticon campaign returns with a wide assortment of characters to choose from and even more as unlockables. How they chose the characters featured though remains a mystery; it seems as if names were tossed into a hat and drawn at random. As far as gameplay goes… This game is BAD! Combat is horribly done in an odd homage to side-scrolling beat-em up games; players must first clear one area of enemies before moving on. How can this be bad? Ranged combat seems tacked on and melee combat is brutally unfair! The enemy will crowd you, beat you down, and proceed to kick the energon out of you unless you do the same to them. I really wanted to hate this game, readers. I know that sounds odd but this game is the epitome of disastrous. The amount of playable characters and that G1 charm led me to stick it out and complete each campaign once. The nostalgia goggles clearly cloud my eyes on this title but that won’t stop me from recommending this game to every fan of the original Transformers.
At the top of the list is, of course, Transformers War for Cybertron. High Moon Studios worked diligently to keep the original mythos intact and paid every attention to detail when bringing the Transformers to current generation consoles. Instead of going the usual route, War for Cybertron gives us a bit more detail as to what happened on the planet Cybertron years before the Transformers arrived on Earth. It had everything a G1 fan could ask for. Two separate campaigns, classic characters, a really cool multiplayer mode, and of course, the great Peter Cullen reprised his role as Autobot leader Optimus Prime. The only problem with the game was that it felt as there should have been more of it. A ride that intense, one would never want it to end. Thank goodness August is almost here so that Transformer fans can get their hands on the fantastic looking sequel, Transformers Fall of Cybertron.