The Changing Shape Of Transformers Video Games

Transformers gaming has changed dramatically over the years. Since the release of the first game from Ocean Software in 1985 for the Commodore 64 and Spectrum, we’ve seen a diverse range of titles release for almost every contemporary platform of that era. While the games themselves have changed with the times, often being limited to genres that were technically feasible (and more often than not relatively easy to develop) based on the available hardware growing available, games based on the Transformers franchise grew as hardware progressed steadily.

In the early 8-bit days, games were generally limited to platform games and shoot-em-ups, something that was not only straightforward for programmers but were suited to the machines as well. Something that could be completed in a single sitting without the need for a save game or password system as it wasn’t always practical, certainly not with the Commodore 64 and Spectrum at least! Besides, the games were so quick to finish that they didn’t need to that sort of facility. The Transformers game from Ocean has been known to be completed in around two minutes from start to finish!

While the 8-bit era offered quite limited gameplay mechanics regardless of the format (computer or console) there was also another common factor – games were solitary, single player affairs. This continued when we next encountered Transformers gaming when a hardware generation was skipped over and we were introduced for the first Beast Wars Neo game on the Gameboy Color (a single player beat-em-up) and the multi-platform arcade adventure released for the PlayStation and PC. The latter wasn’t particularly impressive and took some liberties with the franchise but it wasn’t until the next console releases when Transformers went social.

It took a single game, Beast Wars Transmetals to change things. A critically acclaimed 3D beat-em-up, it brought us plenty of action, all our favourite characters, dialogue from the shows and great visuals in a well-rounded package for the PlayStation and Nintendo 64. Unfortunately it was also limited to release in Japan and America only leaving us gamers in Europe missing out on the best Beast Wars game released. Nintendo 64 owners fared worse however, as their version of the game in the US was limited to a rental only release through the Blockbuster chain making it one of the rarest Transformers games ever released.

Mobile games have moved forward in that time as well growing from simplistic platform and strategy games, to Free To Play card-based games allowing you to challenge and play against friends across the globe. One of the more notable of the earlier games was Transformers: G1 Awakening from Glu Mobile – a turn-based strategy game which was regarded as a considerable improvement on their earlier movie-themed platform release. In contrast, the goal these days with mobile releases seem to be focused not only around the games themselves but ensuring that players can both connect with others and generate ongoing income for the companies that produce them either through in-game purchases or DLC. This has been most evident with Earth Wars, Forged To Fight and Angry Birds: Transformers. While the base games may have been free it’s certainly been clear that progression has expected players to invest money in them.

The online gaming industry saw the opportunities that Transformers had to offer as well. Gaming sites tapped into a growing range of franchises as slots were produced based on a growing range of high profile properties – Marvel, DC, and a plethora of modern and classic television shows. Sadly for fans, many of the Transformers games have disappeared as the licenses have expired leaving ones behind based on current hits and other cult classics from our childhood like The Six Million Dollar Man. These newer releases are still drawing in genre fans, both regulars and new wanting to try their hand at these for the first time taking advantage of Titanbet Bonus Code offers to get them started.

As those markets embraced Transformers (even more so with the advent of the first live-action movie), so did the online gaming market. Jagex, known for their online browser based MMORPG RuneScape acquired the Transformers license from Hasbro and embarked on an ambitious project to bring the franchise to the MOBA market in the shape of Transformers Universe. Announced at our own convention by Jagex in 2010 the game sadly never left the beta stage and was closed prematurely in 2015 despite having immense potential.

Console gamers have been more fortunate however. We’ve seen a swathe of games released for modern platforms – film and television tie-ins and original releases have been abundant since Activision acquired the license for a second time – but predominantly these have reverted back to single player functionality. It has only been later releases in the Cybertron series from Activision that brought multiplayer elements back to gaming but this time online. Great if you have a reliable internet connection but it’s never quite the same as sitting on a sofa next to a friend playing side by side no matter how good a game may be.

Frustratingly, these have also seen high levels of post-retail releases of DLC that has pushed up the overall costs of the game for many. With new characters, levels and often frivolous content it leaves players bewildered as to why this wasn’t included with the games as standard at release. While it’s common practice within the industry now to release a seemingly never-ending stream of additional content for games after their release, it does leave players feeling cheated as if they are buying an unfinished game in the stores.

What has seemed quite strange though is that we haven’t seen a new Transformers video game now for three years since the release of Transformers: Devastation. That’s an incredibly lengthy period of time in the games industry when it comes to franchises and certainly any new game would have to be either a standalone release or start a new series of titles working from scratch. With no chance of a release of anything before 2019 there will be too much of a gap since Devastation for a sequel to be worth producing unlike the Cybertron series. If anything new is in the works then it’s being kept very tightly under wraps but if I were Hasbro I wouldn’t leave it too long otherwise the audience may just lose their hunger for more Transformers-related gaming…

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