Review: Transformers

We mentioned Magmic’s Transformers a few days back, and got a copy thrown our way to take a look at. I still haven’t seen the movie, but reviews have been pretty good if you’re into the action thing (who isn’t?). With plenty of the old toys kicking around from childhood, this was one bit of nostalgia that I could get hooked into. Robots are awesome, and this game could do well on that premise alone.

FisticuffsI’d like to say that I’m not saying much about the plot so it won’t be spoiled for you readers, but to be honest, I wasn’t paying that close attention to the dialogue. At the end of the day, Transformers is a platformer akin to Metroid - as Optimus Prime, you switch forms to maneuver through a level, use varying attacks to break through the defenses of particular enemy types, and work through a tree of levels to get to the end. Attacks include plowing into foes as a semi, blasting from range, and melee fisticuffs complete with uppercut finishing moves. It’s a simple side-scroller with cool level selection.

The first thing that threw me for a loop was that you don’t point and aim to attack enemies. Chalk it up to ingrained console habits. Instead, you turn auto-attack off and on, and switch targets with the keypad. After Miner 2049er, this was my second go with a trackball, and I gotta say that I wasn’t the least bit inclined to use the keypad. The trackball worked really well for moving around, and made for seamless transforming via down-roll. If you wanted to get some uppercuts going (and trust me, you want to get some uppercuts going), you had to use the keypad, which wasn’t that much of a hassle. Aside from that, jumping to full height usually takes an extra roll, but most movement is really fluid.

The level selection is one of the cooler parts of the game. It gives players some degree of choice, which is a huge selling point to me. It adds replay value and gives a greater sensation of control. After each level, paths open up to you, and you can chose which way you want to go. Certain points send you to the teleporter, where you can hop to inaccessible locations on the map. Decepticons patrol all over the place, so if you collide with one while switching levels, you’re interrupted with a mini-level ambush before you can move on. All of that made for a rich game outside of your usual hop-shoot-and-smash action.

The primary challenge of the game is in timing attacks in between Decepticons’. Death isn’t a huge issue, since when you’re not attacking you automatically block whatever comes your way. The learning curve is really low - once you figure out an enemy type’s attack pattern, taking them down turns more into a chore than anything else. At later levels the patterns feel a bit more unpredictable, but still manageable. There are a few boss stages which didn’t feel that tough, though I didn’t get right to the end, which might have some nasty surprises.

On average, the game is pretty easy, which for a hardened gamer is a bit of a downer. For younger audiences who are likely to get good and excited about Transformers, the forgiving learning curve probably works to their advantage. While the levels were all pretty cool and had a unique flavor to them, the enemies that inhabited them were repetitious, which could just come part and parcel with the memory restrictions of mobile gaming. The platforming leaping itself wasn’t especially challenging, save for a few points.

The game didn’t pick up on the nostalgia front as much as I was expecting. Maybe the spirit of the movie is more an evolution rather than a rehash of the old-style Transformers. Regardless, without having seen the movie, there wasn’t too much to latch onto. I had experienced a fairly significant glitch in the game which stunted a lot of playtime. The visuals were very well done, especially the pseudo-3D bot faces that you see in the midst of dialogue. While the story took a significant back seat to gameplay, it was well-written and flavourful.

Magmic’s Transformers gets 3.5 Converged Mobile Robots out of 5. Despite a low challenge factor, the game does a good job of providing classic platformer action with a few new twists and cool franchise.

Go here to buy Magmic’s Transformers.

Comments [3 Responses]

August 15th, 2007 at 11:24 am

No trial makes me suspicious of a game.

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