32 years of games about Transformers and only a hand full of decent ones. This is the terrible history of Transformers Games.
When you think about the typical fodder for your video games, most things that spring to mind are cars, robots, and people. They are the main staple of most games in some form or another. Transformers, when you think about it, should be the best subject matter for games due to their dual functions. They can either be giant robots (I mean who doesn’t like giant robots?) and then, of course, they can transform into cars, planes, guns etc etc which are also cool. All these vehicles have appeared in games in one guise or another and have done well.
So why is it then that there are not really that many good Transformers games? It’s no secret that most of them are terrible. I am the biggest Transformer fan and even I can’t find the positives to these games. Transformers games have been around for some time, in fact perhaps one of the oldest franchises in gaming starting all the way back in 1985 with Transformers on the Spectrum.
In the 32 years since there has only been one standout Transformers game and that’s Platinum Games’ Transformers Devastation. That works because it uses both robot and vehicle modes which both actually have a purpose. It also used Transformers G1 along with Cel-Shading making it look and feel like you’re playing an episode from the 1984 cartoon.
The other games that come a close second were the Fall of Cybertron series. They were also enjoyable and paid homage to my favorite toy with a slight twist on the designs of the Transformers. Then Activision come along and fucked it all up.
The worst part of it all is that anything Transformers related going forward is now linked to the god-awful movies. The movies have spawned three games all released to rake in the cash, and they have all been garbage.
Anyway, enough of that. Let’s take a look at (pretty much) all the Transformers games that have been released on a variety of systems.
1985 – Transformers – Spectrum
I hated this game. Hated it but ended up playing it all the time because it was Transformers. The idea in this game is you had to find missing parts of the Autobot or Decepticon badge (I think) and you had to drive or fly around the most treacherous and annoying levels ever devised. Dying was commonplace, getting lost was even more commonplace. It’s a good job the Spectrum had rubber keys as you simple bounced back up when you headbutted the damn thing.
1986-Transformers – Battle to save Earth -C64
I didn’t own a C64 so I didn’t have the chance to play this game. Thank god. Look at that brown thing below. What the hell does that turn into? Dog Shit? And the game? Well, it just looks like flies buzzing around said shit. This is a shambolic representation of my heroic Autobots.
1986- Transformers: Mystery of Convoy – NES
Another game I didn’t get to play. And again, that’s OK with me. It appears that in this game you control Ultra Magnus only and have to do your best to shoot laser balls. A race of high-tech transforming robots can only muster purple balls of laser? It’s basically a rip off of Mega Man and should be renamed and repackaged as Magnus Man.
1987- Transformers Headmasters – NES/NES disk system
Ok, so this is a rarity, a Transformers game for the ill-fated NES Disk System. I’ve been watching this video and trying to figure out why this game has the Transformers name attached to it. You’re driving a car. Just a car. You drive across the screen avoiding shit until you hit another level and avoid some more shit in the guise of a robot. From what I can tell it’s a different character and not the car transformed. Meh, transform and get the hell out of here.
?? Transformers (canceled) SNES
Well, this game clearly was made just to milk the SNES’s Super FX chip. It’s literally the exact same game as Star Fox but without all the charm. Good try but fail.
1997 – Beast Wars: Transformers PlayStation
I never liked Beast Wars so I paid little attention to this arena fighter when it appeared on the PS One. I guess if you’re a fan of Beast Wars this could offer you some fun and graphically it’s not too shabby. But then again, I’m a huge fan of Star Wars and that didn’t make Masters of Teras Kasi any good at all, did it?
2003- Transformers -PS2 (Japan only)
Well now we seem to be getting somewhere, a Transformers game using the G1 characters with ok looking models too. This game put our heroes in a scrolling beat-em-up scenario. It kind of looks like a lot a fun. Especially a 30ft Robot doing kung-fu type kicks. Hilarious to watch, terrible to play no doubt.
2004 – Transformers Armada – PS2
Now this game I remember. It was the first decent Transformers games that came out. It wasn’t an arena fighter or scrolling beat up it was actually a full-blown adventure featuring Transformers. Looks great, plays great and was critically acclaimed too.
2007 – Transformers: The Game – PS2, X360, PS3, PSP, PC, Wii
Ugh. Fucking Michael Bay’s Transformers universe pisses me off. I’m not going to waste any time of these games as they are utter shit, even if they were good they were shit because they’re part of the Michael Bay’s Universe. In this game you had an open world and you could choose to play Autobot or Decepticon and climb buildings and shit. It had a rudimentary good or bad meter for your respective faction. But who cares?
2008 Transformers G1 Awakening – Android, iOS
A cheeky little mobile game featuring G1 Transformers. It was a kind of board game come RTS game that had some charm. I played it once and found myself getting bored very quickly. That happens a lot it seems.
2009- Transformers Revenge of the Fallen PS2, X360, PS3, PSP, PC, Wii
2010 – Transformers War For Cybertron – PS3. X360, PC
Now we’re getting somewhere. War for Cybertron gave Gears of War a Transformers flavored skin. Run and gun as your favorite Autobot or Decepticon. The story was great as it focused on the events prior to the Transformers arriving on earth. The characters were all redesigned but kept firmly in the G1 mold. High Moon Studios also created some of the finest trailers when promoting the game. At the end of the game you were treated to a visual spectacle as you had to either fight the giant Omega Supreme or Triptacon. Fantastic.
2011- Transformers Dark of the Moon – PS3, Xbox360
2012 – Transformers Fall of Cybertron – PS3, Xbox 360, PC
Sequel to War for Cyberton but with added amazingness. This game introduced Grimlock, the first time he had been re-imagined from the stupid cartoon character we all know and love and he was great! Not only that you got to control the city-sized Metroplex. Another great game from High Moon Studios. Shame Activision got stuck in and wrecked the series with…
2014- Transformers Rise of the Dark Spark PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Wii U, Xbox 360, Xbox One
…This pile of wank. Fortunately, this was followed by…
2015 – Transformers Devastation , PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One
Arguably the greatest Transformers game ever made. This was a scrolling beat-em-up but with that special Platinum magic that makes combos a breeze and a treat for the eyes. This was pure fan service for us Transformers fans as pretty much every character from the cartoon made an appearance in one way or another. The game played great and had all the original voice cast from the cartoon. Couple that with the amazing cel-shaded graphics and it really did take you back in time to 1984.
2016 – Transformers Earth Wars – iOS & Android
One of those poxy tower defense-come-RTS money making games. You know like King of Thrones Z or Wold War Kingdom Z or Game of Z blah blah blah this game had the Transformers name attached so it sucked me in the fucker. It’s ok I guess. It’s boring and expensive but the character models are spot on and the clans are good. And you even get to use the Combiners like Superion of Volcanicus. If you have the time and money that is, which I don’t which is why I uninstalled it.
So there you have it, the one subject that in theory should be perfect for video games has not quite happened as yet. It’s been close at times with the War for Cyberton series and Devastation, but other than that it’s been poor show indeed. Now that Paramount has all but sealed the doom of Transformers with their continuation of Michael Bay’s ‘formers and the upcoming spin-offs. If games are to be made of these, then things are not looking good for Prime and co in the gaming universe.
Still, like the Matrix being passed to Ultra Magnus in the Transformers the Movie (animated), there is hope. Transformers Devastation literally came out of nowhere. I think it was on the Eve of E3 2014, Activision just threw out a trailer for a new game, seemingly like they didn’t care about it. I woke up one morning and there it was a G1 Transformers game, no fanfare, no pomp, and ceremony. Just a trailer. So maybe, one day soon, I’ll wake up again and there will be another trailer for another awesome looking transformers G1 game that can do the license justice.