• Transformers (Ocean) – ZX Spectrum

    September 6, 2019 OptimusPrime Games, Transformers

    As with most popular games released for 8-bit computers in the 1980s, they were usually issued for the Commodore 64 and Spectrum simultaneously, and this first-ever Transformers game released by Ocean was no exception. As seemed to be the trend in the games industry, the game retailed at a massive £1 cheaper for the Spectrum version (it may not seem like it these days, but it was a bone of contention for gamers back then!).

    With regards to the game specifics, it’s basically the same game as the Commodore 64 version which I have already reviewed on the site here so I won’t go into too much detail about it but to be brief, the Autobots are facing an energy crisis and have to recover pieces of the Autobot Energon Cube and return them to the Autobot Centre while avoiding attack from the Decepticons who have mastered cloning techniques so the Autobots are under attack from a seemingly never-ending horde of assailants. That’s the game in a nutshell – take control of five different Autobots – Optimus Prime, Mirage, Bumblebee, Hound, and Jazz – in a platform-based shoot-em-up finding four cubes, return them to the base and then start all over again once you’ve done it!

    I will be honest and say that I was never a Spectrum enthusiast when the game was first released and I started with Commodore machines beginning with the Vic 20, then progressing through the Commodore 64, Amiga and so on. However, I have amassed a collection of over 30 consoles and computers over the years including ones that I never even considered owning in my youth, and I think my gaming preferences will always lie in the past!

    Anyway, looking at Transformers the gameplay is identical to the Commodore version in every respect, and that’s its main downfall. The controls are still unresponsive, and it’s far too easy to crash into the scenery or be killed by a Decepticon that you can’t see because they’re off the edge of the screen. When you’re in vehicle mode, it’s all too easy to drive straight off the edge of a platform to certain doom, and if you’re in robot mode and try to land on a platform, you have to be facing the right way or in the right position or you lose a life.

    There are some differences between the two versions of the game, but these are mainly cosmetic. The title screen now only features Soundwave and not Jazz, there is no music in the game at all, the platforms are no longer metallic, and the color of them change depending on the Autobot you have chosen (to minimize the in-game color clash), and instead of scrolling, the game is now flip-screen. The latter is the biggest change, and this is more a technical issue with the Spectrum as scrolling isn’t its strongest point. However, this does make the game even more difficult than the Commodore 64 version as it’s even harder to see what’s coming ahead or where you are going.

    It’s not a game that stood out back in 1985 as being anything particularly special, and now the only real thing that it has going for it is the historical significance of being the first-ever Transformers game that was released.

  • New Games That Will Come out for Consoles in 2019

    September 6, 2019 OptimusPrime Games

    After a glorious 2018 for video games, in which they have shone their own Red Dead Redemption 2, God of War or Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, titles called to define the current generation, it is time to look at what it is offering us and what it holds for 2019. And it certainly looks great.

    A year that in just three months and has placed on the table jewels of the caliber of Kingdom Hearts III, the much-desired remake of Resident Evil 2 and a Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice that makes us believe that it is possible to overcome that large ribbon. And that’s just the beginning.

    In VidaExtra we have gathered all the great releases set for 2019, with which tremendously expected titles like The Last Of Us: Part 2, Metroid Prime 4 or Halo Infinite remain out of the equation. At least for now.

    As a curious note PS4 has only confirmed four exclusive weight for this year (including Days Gone, Dreams and Medieval), among which particularly noteworthy is the return of Kojima with Death Stranding, while Microsoft is expected to launch Gears 5, Ori and the Will of the Wisps, or a Battletoads that has been resisting to leave more than expected. Will there be a surprise twist this second half of the year?

    For our part, we have ordered the titles released so far and those that will arrive during the rest of the year alphabetically, including their release date and confirmed platforms, offering the possibility to book them if you want to enjoy them launch.

    Now, logically, you will see that the dates begin to fade as the month’s pass. There will be many great announcements and surprises reserved for the E3, the end-of-year events, and those Nintendo Direct that both hypes wake up and have already brought us surprises like Astral Chain.

    And even if you don’t see them under these lines, we have annual returns like EA’s sports sagas, 2K’s or Activision’s shooters.

    A Plague Tale: Innocence

    • Release date: May 14
    • Platform: PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One
    • Company: Asobo Studio

    One of the most recommendable experiences of this 2019 is also one of the crudest: A Plague Tale: Innocence presents us the less friendly face of medieval France. A land plagued by war, misery, and an inevitable plague. And, in spite of everything, a narrative, and gameplay that make it an unquestionable imperative.

    Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown

    • Release date: January 18
    • Platform: PS4, Xbox One, and PC
    • Company: Bandai Namco

    The saga of air combat from Namco came back putting all the meat on the grill: Ace Combat 7 Skies Unknown offers aircraft impressive, a technical section reinforced with Unreal Engine and fully designed to take advantage of the virtual reality. This is a double success if we consider that the climate and the environment now affect both the aircraft and our interface.

    Anno 1800

    • Release date: April 16
    • Platform: PC
    • Company: Ubisoft

    The first big surprise of 2019 within the genre of strategy comes from the hands of Ubisoft, who proposes us to lead the Industrial Revolution through an attractive and well-crystallized game system set at the beginning of the Industrial Era. The key? Maintain the perfect balance between innovating and discovering, giving enormous presence and prominence to our screen decisions.

    Anthem

    • Release date: February 22
    • Platform: PS4, Xbox One, and PC
    • Company: Electronic Arts / BioWare

    It may not have given up on the commercial side, but, unquestionably, Anthem is, to date, the strongest bet of Electronic Arts in 2019, and that already makes it interesting. The answer to Destiny De BioWare, though, her game experience-more vertical-is disassociated from Bungie’s proposal, allowing us to discover an exotic Iron Man-style Planet.

    Apex legends

    • Release date: February 4
    • Platform: PS4, Xbox One, and PC
    • Company: Respawn Entertainment / EA

    The Titanfall creators ‘ FPS free-to-play has been one of the clear revelations of the year, adapting their unmistakable style to the genre of fashion and adding an extra touch of hero-shooter that ends up rounding up one of EA’s most successful releases. Who said it was all made up about Battle Royale?

  • Transformers: Construct-Bots

    September 1, 2019 OptimusPrime Games, Transformers

    For a franchise concept with as much potential as that of Transformers, it doesn’t seem that many of the developers of its games are necessarily capitalising on the technically intricate nature of the Transformers concept itself. Shirking the usual battle-only gameplay for an exploration of said potential however, is the mobile app Transformers: Construct-Bots. This is an app whose gameplay is largely comprised of the construction of your own Transformer robots, having complete control over each of the robots’ sections in a simulated laboratory-like setting. There’s still battling to be done however, but the satisfaction arises from battling with your own custom bots – this is the game’s unique selling point and it is a feature explored further in this short review

    First and foremost, Transformers Construct-Bots is a game of customisation. The initial menu screen presents you with three options: Customise, Gallery, and Battle. You can’t enter into battle without having your own robots first, nor can you view a gallery if you’ve no bots to view, so Customise is your first port of call. Selecting it will bring you to the meat of the app’s action.

    The customise section of the game is set out like your own personal mini-laboratory where you view you skeleton Transformer in all its glory. Actually, there’s no glory at first because your bot is barebones and doesn’t have any parts. It’s up to you to select and customise each of the parts, from the head section to the legs and outwards to the wings.

    Initially, you will have to rely on the most basic of parts because you won’t have substantial quantities of cash available to purchase any of the more premium materials. To give you an idea of what you’re lumbered with at first, there are plenty of cardboard boxes to act as stand-ins for your head, hands, and feet parts. As you can imagine, you’re not going to win many battles with robots constructed from these basic parts.

    Mission Approach

    The game gives you mission-style progression to allow you to construct your own fearsome Transformer however. You can select from any one of the missions, after which you will be given a parts lists as a general guide to creating your own bot from the actual Transformers titles, from Ultra Wave to (woohoo) Optimus Prime. The missions are more of a structured approach to the game, allowing newcomers to have some external help when building their bots, as well as giving you something to work towards in the free customisation mode.

    Battles

    Now, to call what Transformers Construct-Bots refers to as battles would be a bit of a reach. In stark contrast to the dynamic, user-controlled battles of games like Titanfall, battles in Transformers Construct Bots are notably lacking in any real substance. In fact, all that happens when you battle is that you pay a certain fee to enter the battle, then witness a cloud of smoke and robot parts flying about on the screen, Tasmanian Devil-style, until one of the robots emerges the victor.

    So unfortunately, each of the battles you will “fight” (or not, as the case may be) are actually fought behind closed doors, making them purely stats-based affairs. The winner is going to be the robot with the best stats overall, meaning that those who have invested in superior weapons and other parts will be at a distinct advantage here.

    Conclusion

    There are some other redeeming features to speak of, including the ability to view galleries of your robots. You can also choose to share your designs, meaning that they are entered into an online portal where everyone shares their creations. This can give you a bit of inspiration if you’re having a tough time coming up with a great design, though you’re probably better off sticking to the mission framework if you’re actually having issues with inspiration.

    This game’s design also isn’t the slickest, particularly when comparing it side-by-side with other transformers games. Its design is at least superior to flash-based offerings like this robot creator game, but only just. In the end, one would expect a lot more polish and visual flair than this app actually provides.

    In conclusion, this app is great for the casual collector of Transformers robots, but anyone expecting a polished experience worthy of the core Transformer game and movie series may be disappointed. The “battles” aren’t really battles, and more importantly, the customisation elements aren’t as extensive as they should be for a game in the robot creator game genre. This is doubly true when you consider the slick presentation and extensive customisation features offered in other transformers video games (such as Angry Birds Transformers) that aren’t even build around customisation and character creation. That’s why this is only for the truly dedicated Transformer fan who can comfortably overlook this game’s faults.

  • Autobot Stronghold

    The battle between Autobot and Decepticon lives in through many mediums of media: cartoon; film; comic; video game. Transformers’ ubiquity has also stretched to the flash gaming sphere, and one of the better titles to enjoy is Autobot Stronghold. A tower defense game in format, Autobot Stronghold has you assume control of the Autobots, with view to defending your base against the nasty Decepticons. Given the quality-ceiling already looming over the game due to the limitations of flash-game design itself, Autobot Stronghold does pretty well for itself, drumming up some addictive tower-defense gameplay with enough of a mech theme to please any Transformers fan.

    Uncomplicated

    The gameplay here is the quintessential presentation of a tower-defense game. You view the action from a birds-eye perspective, with your stronghold containing the precious item that’s to be guarded – this sits on the left-hand side of the screen. Because this game has sponsorship ties with LG, the big machine we’re in charge of defending is called the LG LH50, and it’s got a finite amount of health that must be protected at all costs.

    But what are we protecting the LG LH50 from? Well, it’s obviously going to be the Decepticons of course, who are the aggravators in this situation (as well as the transformers game/movies/lore in general). The Decepticons (though sadly no Optimus Prime included), in true tower-defense style, shuffle in from various directions on the screen, following a set pattern of movement as they move around the pre-existing paths on the screen. These paths eventually lead to your LH50 machine, so it’s up to you to do something about this before the Decepticons reach your machine and try to destroy.

    This is where your Autobots come in. You have to place your Autobots at strategic locations on the screen. This is the manner in which you’ll defend your LH50’s health; your Autobots will attack automatically once they are placed and an enemy is in range. Tower-defense games fans will immediately notice the high degree of similarity this format has to the Bloons Tower Defense games. Such a comparison is warranted due to the genre they share, but it feels important to point out that the complexity of the strategy in Autobot Stronghold isn’t anywhere near as extensive as you would find in the mighty Bloons Tower Defense 5. There just aren’t as many variables to consider, or even as many levels to enjoy.

    Strategic

    This obviously isn’t the usual run-and-gun Transformers-game explosion fest, so what can we expect instead? Well, the tower defense-genre framework is itself geared towards creating situations where careful planning and strategy is required in order to overcome the problem. This is also true of Autobot Stronghold.

    Placing any old Autobot in any old location is going to get you killed rather quickly; there’s a definite strategy to the gameplay. To start with, you have four kinds of Autobot to choose from: Bumblebee, Jazz, Ratchet, and Ironhide Each of these Autobots has their own set of stats which makes them useful for specific situations. Their varying levels of speed, defense, range, and damage mean that certain bots should be placed where others shouldn’t. Bumblebee, for example, is speedy and responsive, yet has poor range and deals very little damage. Jazz on the other hand has admirable range, but his other stats are quite poor.

    You also have to factor cost into the equation. Your Autbots cost a certain quantity of “Sparks” (the in-game currency here – don’t worry though: no microtransactions to speak of), and you only start with a limited quantity in the first place. Killing enemies earns you more sparks, which in turn allows you to protect yourself better against the increasingly-difficult waves of Decepticons.

    Design and Execution

    With the gameplay explained above, there’s now the design of the game to think about. It’s got quite a bit of polish for a flash game, and doesn’t look like your typical flat-textured fodder. It’s got a darkly mechanical feel to it thanks to its metallic textures, and the design of the individual robots is also very detailed.

    As for the execution of the game, it can be said that its action is implemented very well. Though it’s a short game (only one level with 50 waves of Decepticons), the gameplay that does take place is very enjoyable, filled with strategy in spending as well as placement of your Autobots. It was designed by Josh James Hunt, in fact, a designer that should be credited and praised strongly for creating such a simple yet enjoyable flash game.

  • Angry Birds: Transformers

    Traditionally, Angry Birds is a physics-based skills game involving the firing of birds at different structures in order to knock them down and unlock the next level. Tradition’s been thrown aside for Angry Birds: Transformers, however, which in direct contravention of the usual format is a side-scrolling shoot-em-up that marks a dovetailing of two massively popular franchises: Angry Birds and Transformers. Critics haven’t been hugely kind to Angry Birds: Transformers, but this review tries to look past the insistent monetisation that has become typical of the latest Rovio titles, revealing a game that’s wonderfully presented and that has some decent Transformer-themed gameplay to please fans of the two relevant franchises.

    Gameplay

    This game has a lot in common with the traditional mechanics of Angry Birds, only the catapult has been done away with and instead you’re running as a robot whilst gunning the familiar, teetering structures lurking in the background. You don’t have to worry yourself too much with controlling the running since it’s an auto-runner; your robot character runs across the level automatically, allowing you to save your focus to aim and shoot at the various structures in the background in which the iconic green pigs are (perhaps foolishly) camped out.

    The counterpart to the variety of birds seen in the very first Angry Birds is the variety of robots in the game, each with their own special weapon that’s more effective against certain kinds of structures (be they glass, wood, or stone). Aside from this, the aim is pretty much the same as in Angry Birds. It’s a bit more on-the-fly however, and arguably more challenging due to the fact that your robot character is running across the screen and you must identify a weak spot in the structure much more quickly than you would if you were playing the original Angry Birds where the only movement is the catapulting of the birds themselves.

    Costly Mechanics

    Now, it’s a shame to have to complain about monetisation in Angry Birds: Transformers, but it’s pretty difficult not to do so, seeing that it takes up quite a bit of the game and all. You’re lured in at first with fast progress and admittedly excellent gameplay, but the pay barriers soon rear their heads. While there’s no energy system (thank god), there are a number of different timers that you have to wait for in order to carry on with the action.

    Barriers to your progress include the healing process, which can take varying quantities of time depending on how damaged you are in each level. If you upgrade too, you’re going to have to wait some time before it’s ready to be applied/used. Of course, this encourages you to open up your real wallet to spend on the in-game currency, and this can get costly if you’re playing the game a lot. The premium currency can be found in the game, but instances of these findings are few and far between.

    Transformers Crossover

    Official Transformers fans will enjoy the fact that each of the coloured birds from Angry Birds are represented as Transformer equivalents. Optimus Prime acts as the classic Red Bird, for example, while Bumblebee assumes the role of Chuck, and this pattern continues thusly. Perhaps more noticeably, the Transformers-esque destruction of your surroundings also stands out more so than the relatively mild destruction of structures seen in the Angry Birds games.

    The destruction of the structures central to the gameplay is also facilitated by the fun-to-collect “Energonicons”. These are effectively items (48 of them to be found in the game in total) that you can collect and build upon, but which also give you extra-destructive capabilities that other destruction games in the genre don’t have. Take the Boomshake, for example, which creates huge earthquakes to help destroy the structures. Even more fun, however, is the way in which you are able to combine the materials you find in the levels (or which you can purchase through IAPS), crafting your own Energonicons and giving yourself even more healing, money-collecting, and (most importantly) destructive powers. This is about as Transformers (particularly the Michael Bay denomination) as it gets.

    Angry Birds Elements

    There’s still quite a bit of Angry Birds to be found in this game however, not just in the placement/inclusion of the structures in the background but in the overall design. The ultra-mechanical and often dark nature of Transformers (particularly some of the new films) is brightened up by the vibrant colours you’d expect of pretty much any of the Angry Birds games. It’s a balance well struck however, resulting in a unique mech/casual look that should appeal to both Angry Birds and Transformers fans.

    Other Features and Conclusion

    The social aspect of the game is relatively limited, though you can play co-op with one other friend if you sign in with Facebook, which is enjoyable enough. Other notable features include the ability to transform from mechanoid to vehicle form during levels, which is a feature designed to fit in with the mechanics of buildings toppling over – this results in some pretty fast-paced and enjoyable escape-like scenarios where you must dodge and drive your way out of danger before morphing back to your original form in order to shoot at more buildings.

    Finally, there’s no arguing with the look of the game. The graphics are as sublime as you’d expect from a game that’s a hybrid of two of the world’s most recognisable franchises, not to mention it’s created by slick-game champion Rovio.

    If you absolutely can’t stand paying for your entertainment, or are simply sick of your progress in each game being held to a ransom that requests you spend your real money to get by more quickly, then there are plenty more destruction games lurking out there on the internet. Angry Birds: Transformers is still going to be the most well-polished and slickly designed game of its kind you’ll find, however.

  • Transformers: Battle Tactics

    If you’re struggling to keep up with all of the Transformers movies and games, then Transformers: Battle Tactics is another game that isn’t going to help the situation. However, if you’re after a turn-based PvP combat game with a strangely enjoyable, cutesy, colourful design and gameplay that’s geared towards the collecting Autobots and Decepticons (both taking up residence on the same team in many circumstances), then Battle Tactics will most certainly appeal to you. It’s a game that’s focused heavily on amassing a fearsome team and battling against other players’ robot collections from around the world, but can the insistent in-app purchases be forgiven? This review mulls over such matters.

    PvP Gameplay

    Gameplay is modelled around a PvP system, utilising a 4 vs 4 approach to battles that are turn-based. When a match is initiated, the host’s app will attempt to find another person currently online, matching the host up with another suitably-skilled player. Your four robots, displayed in a distinctive art style called Chibi (Japanese for “short person” or “small child”), have their own stats, which are in turn pitted against those of the opposition. It’s then a case of taking it in turns with your moves and attacks until one player bites the dust and the other emerges the victor. The visual style is also a departure from the more serious and altogether darker Real Steel Champions.

    The fact that luck has a substantial part to play in the proceedings is unavoidable. Who you get as your opponent will definitely have an effect on the way your match will play out, and because each player has four different robots as part of their line-up, the number of unique combinations of robots you’re going up against are substantial. There are about 77 or so robots to choose from in all, some of which are already available at the start, but many of which can be unlocked as you play. That’s even more robots than is offered in the also-sublime Real Steel World Boxing.

    Stats Game

    Because this is a turn-based game, your success or failure in each battle will hinge on a variety of factors, though the main one is the nature of your individual robots’ stats. Each robot has a stats wheel that quantifies properties like their defense, attack, and so on – there are also special abilities to be used as well.

    This isn’t a purely stats-based affair however – there is some skill in the selecting of your team. The reason for this is because certain combinations of robots work synergistically together. If your team is constructed of an all-Decepticon line-up, for example, you can expect bonus boosts. Similarly, certain specific combinations of Decepticons and Autobots also work in the very same way. Your success therefore depends in no small part on your initial team selection, rather than being purely stats or luck-based. Everything here is a little reminiscent of board-game BattlClix, which may have been in DENA games’ collective mind when designing this game.

    The special team abilities play a significant part in the game. You’re able to spend three points per turn on these abilities, which can be pivotal in deciding who wins and who loses.

    A Few Drawbacks

    If you’re experienced in the Transformers game universe then you’ll already be familiar with the freemium system. Referred to as the Space Bridge system, it’s based on the same kind of premium currency approach that you’ll find in many games. You can only play five battles before you need to recharge, though it doesn’t cost all that much to do so in all fairness. You can pick up bits of premium currency throughout the game, though you may find that if you’re looking for quick progress then you’ll be spending your actual money to get there faster. However, there’s nothing that can’t be earnt through grinding, so it’s just a case of how much time you’re willing to spend on the game, rather than money.

    One of the main annoyances from a strategic point of view is the frequent mismatching of opponents’ levels. Usually you’ll go up against opponents of roughly similar ability, but new players will occasionally find themselves going up against an overly-powerful opponent. Still, it can benefit you if you do happen to win here, and the losses to your own team and ranking are minimal if you do happen to get battered.

    The official Transformers Battle Tactics game is therefore a mixed bag, though its positives outweigh its negatives. Its gameplay is a mixture of luck, tactics, and sheer effort/grinding, and you can play against either the AI or another real-life opponent. The Chibi art style is a marmite look – some will not like it at all whilst others will find it refreshing. Either way, it’s a hugely enjoyable game that has a lot of longevity hiding under its light-hearted, miniature-robot exterior.

  • Transformers: Fall of Cybertron

    Background

    It didn’t seem all that long ago that we were witnessing the War of Cybertron in the fictional universe of Transformers, portrayed in video-game form by a title of the very same name. Now we’re dealing with its action-packed sequel, Transformers: Fall of Cybertron. We’re thrust back into the action as the last few days of the Transformers’ home planet, Cybertron, draw to a saddening close.

    The lore, of course, has already been laid out in the Transformers story of course, but Fall of Cybertron’s focus is on the mechanical characters on both sides of the conflict. Returning players will either revel or be revolted by the highly familiar (and largely unchanged) third-person gameplay, and this review covers said gameplay as well as the ever-stunning visuals that this series is known for, regadless of whether they make up for a relative lack of innovation in the gameplay/mechanics department.

    Gameplay

    Players will be somewhat disappointed if they come to Fall of Cybertron expecting some radical gameplay enhancements. This game plays out almost identically to the first, bar a few tiny additions and enhancements to the upgrade/perks system. So we’ve still got a sort of Gears of War/Halo-style hybrid, with the shield/damage and weapon system of the latter and the explosive, room-to-room/area-to-area progression of the former. It’s all a thoroughly third-person affair of course (again, much like Gears of War), only here you have the distinguishing feature of rapid transformation between robotic and vehicular from. And it’s difficult to lie about this: these transformations look and feel very cool.

    But to mention the enhancements to the upgrade system posited above, you can now purchase and upgrade weapons from a variety of what are known as Teletraan 1 outlets (this will be familiar to fans of Transformers). There’s also a ratings system where players can score each of the upgrades, with view to creating an informed online community that knows where to look for the best upgrades for their purchased weapons. It’s a little disappointing that the guns feel like they lack stopping power; having weapons that feel disproportionately weak compared to some of the more devastating foes in the game can feel highly disheartening.

    Plot Loyalty

    If it’s one thing that High Moon Studios have managed to do very well, it is remaining loyal to the Transformers lore and foretold storyline. There are moments in the game where old-school Transformers fans will have an “aha!” moment with the dialogue, and this has never been truer than in the Starscream Coronation scene, where the dialogue exchange will have fans’ hairs standing on end.

    There certainly could have been more effort put into the plot however. Often, there will be a focus on a character or two before said focus vanishes into thin air and you’re back to playing generic run, gun, and continue gameplay. Aside from a few epic and notable scenes retelling the classic Transformers story, you’re left with a sort of one-dimensional back-and-forth between Decepticon and Autobot factions. This isn’t terrible, but then again, it isn’t exactly brilliant for a sequel that has had the chance and the time to improve, either.

    Multiplayer

    As ever, the highlight of Fall of Cybertron for many players will be its multiplayer. Annoyingly, there hasn’t been a significant amount of improvement from this game’s predecessor; things feel pretty much the same, only they look better as a result of the improved graphics, though this is an inevitability of improving technology over time anyway. Still, you’ve got the classic character classes – Titan, Scientist (healer), Destroyer, and Scout – and these make for some ever-entertaining multiplayer action rife with tactical gameplay.

    You’ll find some weapons differences here that weren’t present in War of Cybertron (as well as minor changes to the abilities). The number of modes here also work in the game’s favour. You’ve got everything from classic Deathmatch to capture the flag. We’ve even been treated to a new mode, Headhunter, where you’re collecting trophies (known as Sparks) from your fallen foes. There’s no hiding it: Headhunter is a fantastic and welcome addition to this game’s multiplayer.

    Conclusion

    So, we’ve seen some incremental improvements between War of Cybertron and Fall of Cybertron, that much is clear. The storyline is loyal to the original Transformers mythology; we’ve got a new multiplayer mode as well as tweaks to said gameplay here and there; single-player gameplay unfortunately hasn’t undergone a massive amount of change; Escalation is still outrageously fun to play, as far as multiplayer modes go anyhow.

    What typifies the Fall of Cybertron experience, therefore, is a distinct lack of innovation and refusal to deviate from what the developers must see as a winning former. It’s hard to disagree with this to some extent, but this makes Fall of Cybtertron nothing more than a repackaged, slightly-altered, marginally-improved version of War of Cybertron, only one that focuses on another set of happenings from the Transformers lore. Still, it can’t be as bad as Transformers: Age of Extinction, at least it’s got that going for it.

  • Transformers (Ocean) – Commodore 64

    September 6, 2018 OptimusPrime Games, Transformers

    I can remember seeing this game on the C64 when it was first released. It came out in 1985 – at a time when Ocean software had a reputation for some technically impressive games and some great arcade conversions (through their Imagine label), and when the G1 toys were in their prime (sorry!), Ocean turned to experienced developers Denton Designs, famed for their icon-based adventure Shadowfire, to produce this platform adventure game for them. As with all of Ocean’s major titles at the time, it was also released for the Spectrum which we have reviewed here.

    As with most Commodore 64 games it was released on both cassette and disk, but both versions of the game were identical apart from the packaging. The cassette version loaded up with what was an impressive title screen for the time featuring the Transformers logo, Soundwave and Jazz, revealing gradually while a great piece of music played composed by Ocean’s in-house musician Martin Galway. Ocean didn’t allow Galway to do the in-game music as well, leaving Denton Designs to use their regular musician, Fred Gray.

    Basically, Transformers is a platform shoot-em-up. You take on the role of a team of five Autobots (Optimus Prime, Jazz, Bumblebee, Mirage and Hound) and you have to explore the games levels collecting four pieces of the “Autobot Energon Cube” (although these actually look more like the Autobot insgnia once you gather them!) and returning them to your base, negotiating the array of platforms and avoiding the onslaught from the Decepticons who are out to stop you. Collect four pieces and the level is complete. Why they are doing it, is anyone’s guess!

    To help you, each Autobot has three modes of transport – walking, flight, or vehicle mode. Different modes are best used to negotiate different parts of the levels with some platforms only being accessible through flight. Naturally, driving around is one of the quickest ways to explore the levels, but it is all too easy to drive too fast and end up going over the edge off a platform. You are open to attack in vehicle mode, but can shoot back in robot or flight mode, and different modes of transport offer different benefits and levels of control for manoeuvring around the levels themselves.

    Each of the Autobots on offer give different advantages and disadvantages to the player. It is possible to switch between ‘bots at any time during the game as long as you are able to stop and turn into a forward facing position. Naturally, Optimus Prime is the best for firepower and damage resistance, but he is rather cumbersome when it comes to negotiating some of the trickier platforms. By the same token, Bumblebee is not a ‘bot to use if you are expecting heavy combat, but because of his size, he can go where no ‘bot has gone before. However, Jazz would appear to be the best all-rounder. If you run low on energy after taking too much damage, you can take a few minutes respite by taking cover in one of a number of defensa-pods scattered around the playing area which will protect you temporarily and also replenish your energy.

    The graphics in the game are something of a mixed bag. The sprites are well drawn and well-animated, especially the transformation sequences, but the backgrounds are appalling. The platforms consist of little more than metallic pipes on a plain black background. Yes, the game scrolls smoothly enough, but when the screen doesn’t even look interesting, the gameplay has to exceptional to make you come back for that elusive “one more go”.

    Special mention has to go to the music by Fred Gray. He has managed to produce a faithful renditioning of the Transformers theme for the game, although there isn’t a great deal of music during the game itself. However, the sound effects are rather sparse and what is there is rather lacklustre considering the Commodore’s capabilities.

    Overall, this game is too damn difficult for it’s own good for most gamers. It is a difficult game in it’s own right, but coupled with a  frustrating control system that is unresponsive and, and an icon system that you need to use to change between characters (no doubt something that Denton Designs felt that they wanted to make use of in most of their games at the time) makes the game a annoying to play (not to mention making transforming your ‘bot difficult and not something that can be done in a hurry). Denton Designs were famed for their icon-based games for the C64, starting with their revolutionary graphic adventure, Shadowfire, but icons have no place in a platform game.

    If that wasn’t bad enough, there is some dubious collision detection, and as with many scrolling platform games, because of the speed that it moves at and the sheer speed of the Decepticons that are attacking you, it is impossible to tell what is coming from off the screen. All too often, you can be in flight mode and suddenly finding yourself crashing head first into an oncoming platform or being shot at from all angles.

    To be honest, this game never really set the world alight when it came out, and looking back at it now it has dated very badly. Some of the better C64 games have still stood the test of time with its playability and even visually are far more impressive. This certainly wasn’t one of the Commodore’s – or Ocean’s finest moments.