The Transformers

by Simon Butler
Ocean Software Ltd
Crash Issue 27, Apr 1986   page(s) 17

Producer: Ocean
Retail Price: £7.95
Author: Denton Designs

Once again life as we know and love it has come under threat from evil minions - this time in the form of the evil Decepticons, Transformer robots which have invaded the planet Earth and are doing their very best to take over.

Only a handful of good guys remain - five Autobots who go by the names Mirage, Optimus Prime, Hound, Jazz and Bumblebee. You take control of the Autobot team and have to find the four parts of the Autobot Energon Cube in order to stave off an energy crisis as well as eliminate the baddies.

Naturally, the invading force of dastardly Decepticons is out to defeat the quintet of heros - to make your life more difficult, the Decepticons have perfected the art of robo-cloning, which allows them to multiply rapidly. If you don't wipe out the baddies quickly, they start popping up all over the place.

The main playing area is presented in a large window which occupies the top half of the screen, and flips as you move off the edge of the current screen. Below the action area is the status panel. At the start of the game the five Autobots are nestling within Defensa Pods and five icons are ranged on the bottom of the screen. To take control of one of the team, you have to move a cursor over the appropriate Autobot's icon and Press fire, where upon one of the Defensa Pods opens to reveal your chosen combatant.

Once you have control of an Autobot, the status display changes, and the icons are replaced with three bar graphs which indicate the shield, power and weapons status of your current champion. Inrobot mode, the Autobots can run to the left and right and take to the air, flying along Superman style. To transform into vehicle mode turn the Autobot so it is facing out of the screen,press fire, and it crunches down into a nifty four wheel motor. An Autobot in vehicle mode can zoom along at a fair lick, but the penalty is that its laser system is disabled. Fortunately, the vehicles are low on the ground, so most of the laser bolts fired by the evil Decepticons pass above it.

The battle is waged in a huge city complex containing a weird mix of architectural constructions including walkways, ramps and strange pillars. In vehicle mode you can out-run the Decepticons, and make rapid progress along the catwalks and up and down ramps - but be careful not to zoom off the edge of a walkway into thinair as you can't transform when you are falling. In walking mode the normal left right controls apply, and to move up or down the ramps which link platforms up or down have to be selected at the same time as left or right. Flying is simple enough - press up and you take to the air, but care is needed as collisions with some sections of the environment lead to an early death.

If the status bars reveal that your Autobot is running out of energy, weapons or shields, sanctuary can be taken by stepping into one of the Defensa Pods, which will close and return control to the Autobot Selection screen. Any nasty Decepticons on screen when the door shuts on a Pod are vapourised and the Autobot'srest cure tops up its shield, power and weapons levels.

The game is played in real time - you have fifteen minutes to find the four sections of the Energon Cube and fetch them back to the Autbot HO. The Decepticons, wise to your activities, are alsoafter the cube, and scamper back to their HO with any sections they come across. Which means you have to penetrate their base, and life becomes harder...

Success within the fifteen minutes on level one is all very well, but the battle continues, getting harder and harder as the bad guys get meaner and multiply faster.


Control keys: 1 left, 2 right, 3 down, 4 up, 5 fire
Joystick: Kempston, Interface 2, Protek, Fuller, AGF
Keyboard play: awkward
Use of colour: plenty of it, but lots of clashes
Graphics: neatly done
Sound: none
Skill levels: one
Screens: 128

I really think more could have been made of this game. The graphics are good, but there's too much colour and clashes occur regularly. Transformers isn't terrible, but it's certainly not all it could be. Maybe it should have been made simpler, because I don't think it'll appeal to hardened arcade players. Perhaps it will sell to younger children who like the toys of the same name. So much more could have been done with the Transformers idea - it's the first time I've seen a program lacking in any way from Denton Designs, but there you are.

Transformers is a bit disappointing. The graphics are okayish but not up to the quality we expect from Denton Designs. On the whole the game is enjoyable but it does lack something incontent: it's one of those games you play for an hour or so and then put away to forget about. l can'I really think of anything really constructive about this game - it's neither particularly good nor really bad. If you're a fan of the TV series it may prove enjoyable, but l doubt it. This is an average game that may appeal to younger players.

Definitely one of Ocean's worst games, though it may appeal to a few people who like Transformers. I was left with a very bad impression: no nice tunes; no fast or smooth graphics; attribute problems galore; character space accuracy and terrible controls. If you leg it off the edge of a screen with a nasty in hot pursuit it doesn't follow you, which is a bit illogical. I found it very hard to get into and slow to react to the fast decisions that have to be made in order to defeat the Deceptrons. All in, the presentation of the game is way below Ocean's normal standard, and a real let down from the Denton Designs people. The only bit I really liked was the point (right at the end) when I pulled out the power lead.

Use of Computer: 72%
Graphics: 62%
Playability: 68%
Getting Started: 75%
Addictive Qualities: 59%
Value for Money: 58%
Overall: 60%

Summary: General Rating: A bit of a dissapointment, given the idea and the people who wrote the game.

Transcript by Chris Bourne

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