Transformers: The Last Chance?

In 1999, I remember playing the Gerudo Hideout in Ocarina of Time on N64 (spoilers ahead!) and having an epiphany. There’s a part of that (awesome) section of the (awesome) game where Link is thrown into jail and has to hook-shot out. For some reason after escaping for the first time I spent the next ten minutes hook-shot-gliding around. At this late stage of the game, I had already spent about 15 hours in possession of said hook-shot and the novelty had worn off. As I darted about avoiding Gerudo guards a nugget of hope entered my brain; what if someone made a Batman game like this. Fast forward ten years and Rocksteady Games (cue Hallelujah music and bright lights fall on their name) did – to great success. The silent predator sections of the Arkham games’ origins can be followed back to Link’s adventures in Gerudo Valley. Anyway, to the point. Over the years, I’ve had this kind of feeling a few times about different games but with Transformers. The High Moon Studios games a few years ago were a glimmer of hope yet resulted in our darkest hour (Rise of the Dark Spark). Who would we like to see do our favourite robots from 1984 justice? What kind of games would we like to see? 

Transformers: A Telltale Game Series

Obviously developed by Telltale. One of the reasons recent games have failed to feel like ancient, gigantic robots battling has been the limitations of their usual style; 3rd person shooters. Think of the epic forest battle in Revenge of the Fallen or the battle of Autobot City in Transformers the Movie (1986)! That kind of action can only been fully realised if in set pieces and quick time events. Imagine as well, the kind of choices you could face in a Transformers adventure game. Who do you give the Matrix to; Ultra Magnus, Hot Rod or Grimlock? How do you plead; guilty or innocent? There’s plenty of scope for games like this and with acres of source material to draw from, an original or existing tale could be told effectively through Telltale’s extremely popular style of games. 

Transformers: Last Stand of the Wreckers

Arkham Asylum and its sequels were inspired – among many influences – by Grant Morrison’s Arkham Asylum graphic novel. Although the plot and tone is distanced from it, the spine of both stories is the same; the Joker sends Batman through the crucible of a night in Arkham. 

IDW’s recent, fantastic run of Transformers comics could be suitable inspiration for an Arkham-esque adventure. Recent storylines have seen Rodimus and half the transformers leaving their homeland in search of the Knights of Cybertron, Starscream ascending to leader of the planet after the Great War ends and even Deadpool-like breaking of the fourth wall as a certain Autobot experiments with suspect weapon technology. One day of the most revered IDW stories is Last Stand of the Wreckers. Similar to Arkham, a band of hardcore Autobot soldiers must infiltrate an overrun prison fortress with maximum security. 

Throughout the graphic novel, there are revelations which test the Decepticon’s loyalty to the cause, make the reader question how far the Autobots can legally go to eliminate their foes as well as what the notion of right and wrong is in a world where a species has been at civil war for millions of years. High Moon’s original game (War for Cybertron) dipped its toes into this – especially with some creative environmental storytelling – yet the later games (Fall of Cybertron and so on) lost their way. Platinum Games’ G1 inspired Devastation was another interesting false dawn. If a third person action/shooter is going to work, this would be the way to do it. 

Transformers: You Cannot Deny DESTINY

It was actually playing Halo 3 that a Bungie created Transformers game crossed my mind. Although decent games, the Halo lore and narrative has never grasped me. Enter Destiny. The mix of game modes would be an ideal fit for a franchise which has always struggled with an identity crisis. The story mode would be a standard run and gun adventure punctuated by sparrow/alt mode hopping in between. Expand to the meat of Destiny’s services and it gets a bit more interesting. 

Firstly, Patrol’s radiant quests would be an ideal fit for pop in/out gameplay taking out pockets of opposing Autobots/Decepticons. Imagine jointing two other comrades to take down Strike bosses (“it’s Starscream!”) or even a raid mode. I refer you back to the possibilities mentioned previously; Autobot City or Last Stand of the Wreckers. It would be an ideal opportunity to blend familiar Transformers settings like Earth and Cybertron with fan-favourites like Junk, Quintessa, Nebulos or Athena. That’s before we even get to PvP options – one of the more fondly remembered features of High Moon Studios’ series. 

Transformers: TITANmaster FALL

In the eighties the (quite quick actually) rise and fall of Transformers ended with an increasing number of ‘master’ gimmicks. One of these were ‘Headmasters’. The G1 cartoon’s fourth season – only 3 episodes long – introduced of smaller aliens/people controlling/working with larger Transformer avatars. Galvatron quite rightly chastised his Decepticons for allowing their bodies to be changed like this. 

Thankfully the Japanese version of Season 4 retconned this so the Headmasters were smaller Cybertronians outcast on the planet Master. Anyhoo, the Headmasters – recently rebranded in a new toy line by Hasbro as ‘Titan Masters’ have got huge scope for a multi-scale adventure. It would be awesome to take on larger transformers in your titan-sized transector avatars before going in for smaller, different (possibly puzzle, stealth, exploration?) gameplay sections as a Titan Master. Why on Earth not? 

And finally…

Transformers: Dimensions of Infinity

I’ll admit it; sadly, toys to life is dead. Although profitable and well, fun, they do not seem to have earns the likes of LEGO and Disney enough £££. Sales of Skylanders are dropping off too. Hasbro has seen great growth with their resurgent Transformers brand over the last ten years however the recent movie Transformers: The Last Knight has shown signs the boom is too tailing off. A romantic view would be Transformers could swoop in an save toys to life though admittedly unlikely. A Marvel Heroes Omega style character collection game would be an ideal fit. There have been softer, mobile-centric Transformers/toys to life integration but nothing which could be described as a killer app. Surely there is some way of marrying the two.

Where would you like to see Transformers go? Any of these? Somewhere different? Or is it time for them to head to the scrapyard? 

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Mario Allstars 2017

How awesome would a Mario collection be? In lieu of Virtual Console, how about sticking everything on one cart? Or as AllStar-style collections?

Super Mario Allstars Vol 1

  1. Mario Bros
  2. Super Mario Bros
  3. Super Mario Bros. Lost Levels
  4. Super Mario Bros 2
  5. Super Mario Bros 3 
  6. Super Mario World
  7. Yoshi’s Island: Super Mario World 2
  8. Super Mario Land
  9. Super Mario Land 2
  10. Super Mario RPG

Super Mario Allstars Vol 2

  1. New Super Mario Bros
  2. New Super Mario Bros 2
  3. New Super Mario Bros Wii
  4. New Super Mario Bros U
  5. Mario and Luigi Superstar Saga
  6. Mario and Luigi Partners in Time
  7. Mario and Luigi Bowser’s Inside Story
  8. Mario and Luigi Dream Team

Super Mario Allstars Vol 3

  1. Paper Mario
  2. Paper Mario the Thousand Year Door
  3. Super Paper Mario
  4. Paper Mario Sticker Star
  5. Paper Mario Colour Splash

Super Mario Allstars Vol 4

  1. Super Mario 64
  2. Super Mario Sunshine
  3. Super Mario Galaxy
  4. Super Mario Galaxy 2
  5. Super Mario 3D Land
  6. Super Mario 3D World

Each game in HD with leaderboard, online multiplayer (when applicable) please! 

Top 10 GameCube games we want remade in HD on Switch

  1. Super Mario Sunshine
  2. F-Zero GX
  3. Luigi’s Mansion
  4. Paper Mario the Thousand Year Door
  5. Metal Gear Solid the Twin Snakes
  6. Viewtiful Joe
  7. Billy Hatcher and the Giant Egg
  8. Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles
  9. Zelda: Four Swords
  10. Mario Kart Double Dash

Honourable mentions:

  • Zelda: Wind Waker (give us the HD Wii U version)
  • Resident Evil 4
  • Metroid Prime 1+2 (widescreen as in Wii versions)
  • Star Wars Rogue Squadron 2 and 3

Switching Lanes

More and more devs are Switching (shnarf!) to Nintendo’s new console. Rocket League, FIFA 18 and rumours of Overwatch have raised optimism for the home/handheld hybrid. But what is missing from Switch’s lineup and what would elevate it to truly compete with Xbox One and PlayStation 4?

Injustice 2

The sequel to Nether-realm’s DC toy box fighter was released earlier this year on the two main home consoles. It featured deep customisation options as well as -like the original – a wacky, original story. Injustice 1 was released slightly down-scaled on PS Vita so there is no reason the sequel couldn’t be ported to Switch. With Arms, Ultra Street Fighter 2 and a possible Smash game, Switch could become the place for grappling fans. Arms sold more in its first week than the latest Tekken and Street Fighter did on X1 or PS4…

Crash Bandicoot N’Sane Trilogy

Recently released as an ambiguous PS4 ‘exclusive’, Crash would be at home on Nintendo’s portable paradise. The game updates the graphics and some gameplay elements to drag the bandicoot into the 21st Century. Reviewing well on PS4, a system with this, Yooka-Laylee and Mario Odyssey would rubber stamp the mini-renaissance of collect-a-thon platformers. Now we just need Billy Hatcher and the Giant Egg!

Speaking of which…

Sonic Classic Collection

Last year, we got this as a humble bundle on PC for about £11. It included Sonic 1, 2, 3, Sonic & Knuckles (all with lock on compatibility), Sonic Spinball, Dr. Robotnik’s (not Eggman…) Mean Bean Machine and Sonic 3D from the Megadrive/Genesis. Also: Sonic CD, Sonic Adventure, Sonic Adventure 2, Sonic Lost World, Sonic Generations, Sonic and SEGA Allstars Racing and its sequel. Missing in action were the Wii Sonic games: Secret Rings, Black Knight, Colours and the 2006 360/PS3 garbage truck on fire Sonic the Hedgehog. Put them all together though and there’s a whole lotta game there. Put it in the £30-£40 bracket and we’d be sold!

Metal Gear Solid

In the Wii era, I was convinced there was going to be a Twin Snakes-engine-with-waggle-controls remake of Metal Gear (Solid Snake v Big Boss). The HD collection from last generation was a success – particularly on PS3 where you could play all the games in the series. Konami likes money – as we know – so a Switch MGS would be an easy way to make more of it. A port of Phantom Pain (it came out on PS3 and X360 remember), a HD bundle or something new would all be welcome to play at home or on the go.

Destiny

Why can’t Destiny work on Switch? The game can be scaled as we have seen with the PC and X1X versions. Even if Switch players had to play on their own servers or had limited functionality it would be a success. Destiny takes over lives and this can be a problem in a busy household where tv rights are at a premium. We’d even take a complementary experience to play alongside the full-fat versions elsewhere. With Microsoft’s willingness to work alongside Nintendo (Minecraft, cross platform play) you never know. We might be striking and raiding in the living room before heading out to patrol missions at the bus stop.

Which games would you like to see on Switch? 

Fast Racing RMX

Version reviewed: Nintendo Switch

Propping up the somewhat lite launch line up of Switch games is a game which is an – perhaps not the – answer to a question asked by many Nintendo fans. Fast Racing RMX is a futuristic Racer in the same vein as Wipeout or F-Zero – specifically the fondly remembered GameCube version; F-Zero GX. An updated, remixed version of the Wii U game, Fast Racing RMX aims to fill the void left by Nintendo’s last home console entry in the genre (made by SEGA FYI) which now stands at 13 years. With fans clamouring for GX 2, this game has a lot of weight on its shoulders…

In the Switch version, there is the usual offering of racing game modes such as time attack, versus and challenges. The Mario Kart-esque Grand Prix over four races is the meat of the game and that is where we’ll start. The aforementioned influences from SEGA’s F-Zero GX are clear in the track design. There are worm-like sections of track, rotating blockades and air-riding jumps which all hark back to the GameCube classic. Anyone who played that game will feel right at home with the controls, feel and structure of the game. The differentiating mechanic is a twist on the traditional boost/shield charge found in F-Zero. You can charge your boost/shield meter over strips as usual however some are orange and some are blue. A tap of the X button switches your ship’s colour between these – with matching its colour to the strip resulting in a boost or recharge. If you lose focus and head into an orange strip with a blue ship (or vice versa), you slow down as if you have gone off piste on Mario Kart. It is a fun mechanic which can be exploited in later tracks to slingshot past opposing racers. The power of the boost though requires further analysis.

When you activate boost – identical to F-Zero in execution – your already speedy ship takes off in an almost indistructable blur. Pretty to look at (especially compared to the Wii U version) and initially thrilling, this quickly dilutes the skill required to progress up the field. It feels perhaps a little too generous sometimes as multiple crash laps can sometimes be redeemed through hitting the orange and blue boost panels. This is a minor gripe but is the distinguishing factor between the quality of F-Zero GX. 

In multiplayer, the game excels too. Popping off the Joy-Cons and playing in split screen mode is comfortable and – most importantly – fun! We played in tabletop mode and had a smooth experience in 2 player again evoking memories of being huddled around N64s and GameCubes. 

It is worth noting this is a ‘budget’ game with a sub-£20 price tag. With F-Zero still on hiatus it snuggly slots into where it should be. The 32/64 bit era was awash with 3D platformers and futuristic racers (Trickstyle, Rollcage, Wipeout…). Now both of these styles of game seem to have fallen out of vogue. With this in mind, the question is: was this enjoyable because it is one of the only examples of the genre currently on release or because it is genuinely good? If Nintendo had granted the developers the F-Zero licence for the game and had the familiar characters and ships etc this would be heralded as a great return for the series and a worthy successor to the previous entry. The fact it is as good as it is without the boost of the iconic F-Zero name speaks volumes. This is a great game with beautiful graphics and is thoroughally recommended to anyone Jonesing for a fully fledged follow up to GX. 

Speeding Towards Adventure

First of all, kudos if you get the article title. 2017 is amongst other things the return of the mascot platformer/collect-a-thon. Yooka-Laylee, Crash Bandicoot and Mario Odyssey make up a holy trinity of games which hark back to the foggy days of PS1, Dreamcast and N64. In between these releases comes a double-edged spike ball of fury (furry?); Sonic. Could this finally be the return to glory for one of gaming’s original trend setters?

In the 90s, 2D Sonic arguably peaked with Sonic 3 & Knuckles – the ‘complete’ version of Sonic 3. The game refined power ups and level variety whilst having the best balance of furry sidekicks which would in later games get out of hand. The transition to 3D was as awkward as a human-hedgehog romantic relationship. Sonic Adventure wasn’t Mario 64 quality and is difficult to play in 2017 due to some extremely clunky 3D work. However, it was fun and had some memorable, iconic moments. The 3D games got progressively worse – always trying to shoehorn in alternate mechanics which were at odds with Sonic’s simplicity. No wonder Knuckles always loses the Master Emerald if all he has is that annoying blinking radar thing. 

Over in 2D Sonic world, there has been more consistent content. Sonic Advance and its sequels were good and were followed up with strong Nintendo DS games. However, monstrosities like Sonic 4 (both episodes) and the first Sonic Boom smart like spring jumping straight into a Buzz Bomber. 

Back in 3D land, things got weirder. Sonic became a werewolf, went to Camelot and vastly expanded his band of forgettable sidekicks. For the record, the Chaotix crew is where the line should be. Shadow, Silver and any other X the Z diluted the already diminished quality of the series. False dawns like Sonic the Hedgehog 2006 rubbed salt in the wounds of SEGA fans who had already begun to accept the seemingly inevitable. Occasionally a game gave a speck of hope. Sonic and the Secret Rings on Wii begun the ‘rollercoaster’ style game style and was built on in Colors and Sonic Unleashed. An uneasy balance was finally found in Sonic Generations which reimagined stages from all eras of Sonic, mixing 2D and 3D gameplay. It was great fun and most importantly wasn’t a chore to play. All non-Sonic shenanigans were optional. This all brings us to 2017’s offerings…

By the year’s end, we should have 2D retro-inspired sequel to Sonic 3 & Knuckles; Sonic Mania as well as Generations-esque Sonic Forces. Between the two games there looks to be something for everyone and – hopefully – games which finally restore the honour to Sonic’s name. Like Mario, it was once a symbol of quality and you knew exactly what you were going to get. The faux 16-bit graphics of Mania will draw the attention of lapsed gamer 30-somethings who will instantly recognise the blue blur. Plus for a sub-£20 price tag it is a no brainier purchase. Sonic Forces aims to build on Generations’ more consistent 3D environments and deliver a 2017 Sonic adventure. Interestingly the ‘build your own sidekick’ feature seems like a master stroke. No one can moan of the suspect supporting cast if they are user created. It gives big kids like us the chance to recreate great characters like those from the UK’s now defunct Sonic the Comic or more recent fan-favourites like Big the Cat. 

We wait with bated breath to see if these two Sonics can deliver after 20 years of false starts. As the Sonic Adventure theme says: 

‘Gotta open your heart!

Can’t hold on much longer!

But I will never let go!

I know it’s a one way track!

Tell me now how long this’ll last!

I’m not gonna think this way!

Nor will I count on others!

Close my eyes and feel it burn!

Now I see what I gotta do!

Open your heart, it’s gonna be alright! Yeah!’

We hope! 

N64 Classic?

Wow! A flurry of trademarks this week has resulted in soft-to-firm evidence of Nintendo’s follow up to the as-yet unreleased SNES Classic; the N64 Classic. Despite popular opinion the next venture would be a Gameboy Classic, the sole, mainstream 64-bit console (Jaguar 64 ignored) looks like it is next to appear in reduced numbers and inflated prices on eBay. But what will we get in the box?

Launching last holiday season, the NES Classic launched with 30 preloaded games and the imminent SNES Classic will have 30% less. Let’s apply that formula to the potential N64 Classic. 30% less games would – when rounded up – give us 15 N64 games. Here we go:

  1. Super Mario 64
  2. Mario Kart 64
  3. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
  4. The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask
  5. 1080 Snowboarding
  6. Wave Race 64
  7. F-Zero X
  8. Mario Party
  9. Mario Tennis
  10. Mario Golf
  11. Pokemon Snap
  12. Star Fox/Layla’s Wars 64
  13. Smash Bros
  14. Donkey Kong 64
  15. Paper Mario

Honourable mentions:

  • Doom 64
  • Beetle Adventure Racing
  • Turok 1&2
  • Pokemon Stadium
  • Pokemon Puzzle League
  • Pilotwings 64
  • Yoshi’s Story

A huge issue with this console is a large chunk of its AAA quality back-catalogue was made by Rare – now owned by Microsoft. Banjo-Kazooie, Perfect Dark and Blast Corps have already been retro-bundled in Rare Replay on Xbox One. So all those games are out. There are also a number of games in limbo like Goldeneye or Diddy Kong Racing. DKR was ported – by Nintendo to DS but ripped out Rare’s characters. Surely they wouldn’t do the same to the original? 

Wishful thinking:

  • Banjo-Kazooie 
  • Banjo-Tooie
  • DKR
  • Goldeneye
  • Perfect Dark
  • Jet Force Gemini
  • Blast Corps
  • Killer Instinct Gold

Outside bets:

  • Quake 2
  • Star Wars Episode 1: Racer
  • Star Wars: Rogue Squadron
  • Body Harvest
  • Earthworm Jim 64
  • Mortal Kombat 4
  • Snowboard Kids
  • Top Gear Overdrive
  • Superman 64…

The one nugget of hope here is Star Fox 2 on the SNES Classic. If that game can see the light of day then Goldeneye etc may have a chance.