The Nerd: Let me ask a question. What kind of format do you usually play video games on? Cartridges, CDs, cards, floppy disks... how about an audio cassette? Isn't that just a weird thought to play a game on a friggin' cassette tape? This is Transformers for the Commodore 64, the computer that is most definitely more than meets the eye.
The Nerd: You start it up and it goes into this flickering hypnotic light show. Wow. Great game. Then like 5 minutes later, the title screen comes up. Wait a little longer, then you get to pick your key Autobot. As you can see, there's no Optimus Prime, which is pretty stupid. Instead, it's Rodimus Prime. Then you get the colored light show for another 5 minutes. Then all of a sudden, the game starts.
The Nerd: Had it not been for the music, I wouldn't even guess this is Transformers. Most of the game is played by using key commands to move your Autobots to different locations. The Autobots are all indicated by numbers. Couldn't they have something a little more, y'know... visual? When you engage in battle, it goes into this first-person view. You take the joystick and try to shoot down as many Decepticons as you can. It gets monotonous pretty quick. One of the key commands, that is T for Transform, it just, well, makes you transform. But it doesn't change anything, it's just first-person view, so you can't tell if you're transformed or not. By the way, I'm at a farm with a dinosaur stepping on a Space Shuttle. I have no comment. Look at this game. (sarcastically) "Yay, Transformers!" Fuck this.
The Nerd: Wouldn't you think that a game based on the Transformers would have more emphasis on action rather than this strategic simulation thing? Well, guess what? There was a Transformers game that was a side-scroller. But only in Japan.
The Nerd: Let me introduce the Nintendo Famicom. Simply put, this is the Japanese NES. Very different from that gray box, isn't it? This one's smaller and it's a top-loader. It has a nice dust tray. And the controller's attached to the console, which is efficient. But the wires are too short, and they're hardwired into the console, so you can never change them. The controllers are the same; Select, Start, B, A. But the second controller, instead of Select and Start, has a microphone. Very few games utilized this.
The Nerd: From what I understand, in The Legend of Zelda, you kill Pols Voice by making a loud noise into the mic. Of course, that's only in the Japanese version, but the manual still says that Pols Voice hates loud noises, which only mystified players outside of Japan. There was also a disk system, but I need to get a cable for it, so maybe we'll get to that later. I'm getting off track here. Let's play Transformers. The question is, "Why was this game never released outside of Japan?" With the library of games available, it seems most of them, no matter how shitty, would see an international release. So could it be that this one was just that bad? Let's find out.
The Nerd: (He takes the controller and tries to move to his couch, but the console gets pulled along with it) Oh! (goes back to pick it up) Piece of shit. (decides to play on the floor)
The Nerd: The title translates to Mystery of Optimus Prime, and that sums it up perfectly; it's a mystery why Optimus Prime isn't in this game. Instead, it's Ultra Magnus. If you actually beat the game and collect all the letters, you become Rodimus Prime, but the only difference is the color, so what's the point? They should've just made him the second player, like Mario and Luigi, but instead we have Ultra Magnus, and Ultra Magnus. But this is the least of our problems. Check it out.
(Ultra Magnus gets killed by a jet)
The Nerd: One hit and you're dead. Three lives, no continues, no checkpoints. (mocks the start-up theme) Duh-duh-duh-duh-duh-duh-duh-duh. (normal voice) You will hear that more often than you hear it in the fucking show. If you're lucky enough to even make it to the second level, you can continue with a simple code; when you get Game Over, hold A, B, and Start. And let me tell you, you're gonna be doing that every 30 seconds or so. You'll get to continue forever, but that's still not gonna help you get through the levels. You really gotta buckle the fuck down and get your video game senses going sky-high.
The Nerd: Look at this shit. It's almost as bad as Silver Surfer. (shows a sample clip of "Silver Surfer") There's projectiles everywhere. Whenever you try to dodge something, you only get hit by something else.
(Ultra Magnus gets killed by a projectile)
The Nerd: How the fuck does this little thing destroy a giant robot? It's almost insulting how much of an advantage the enemies have. You take one hit, but them? They can sometimes take more. And they're smaller! It doesn't make any fucking sense! They can also pass through solid bricks, but you can't even shoot through the bricks. So if there's an enemy coming at you through the bricks, there's nothing you can do about it.
The Nerd: They also camouflage themselves into the background. (Jumps and lands on a camouflaged tank) I can't even see that fucking thing! Couldn't they use any more colors?!
The Nerd: You can transform, but it's suicide, because it takes fucking 3 seconds. Really, if you try to transform, you're leaving yourself open to enemy fire. Only rarely does it actually come into play where you need to transform to pass through a narrow spot. But if you're not careful with it, transforming is the equivalent of saying, "Here, kill me." (Gets hit by a jet after transforming)
The Nerd: The hit detection is very biased. To begin with, you're such a big target, anyway. But if something comes anywhere near your perimeter, it counts as a hit. However, if you're trying to hit an enemy and your bullet goes anywhere other than dead center, it passes through. And everything's so small, so fast, and moves at such irregular patterns, hitting your mark is like trying to piss into a shotglass that's spinning on a record player that's strapped to a running cheetah's back while you're riding a unicycle on a tightrope blindfolded.
The Nerd: There is absolutely NO fucking around with this game. So we gotta get serious. You're familiar with Billy Mitchell, World Video Game Champion? (Shows a picture of Mitchell at an arcade game machine.) He could probably do it. So I gotta find a way to harness his power. And I think I found a way. (Holds up a bottle of hot sauce) This is his hot sauce. You want something that will kick you in the ass and tighten your senses? This will do it.
(He drinks some of the hot sauce, accompanied by the Level Complete Music from "Super Mario Bros." on NES)
The Nerd: (sighs and coughs from the intense heat) Alright! Now I'm ready!
The Nerd: (In an end-level boss battle) God, this game is so crazy. The screen keeps flashing. It makes me feel like I'm gonna have a seizure. (Kills the boss, and the Nerd appears to be hypnotized by the flashing screen) What the fuck?! (Attempts to jump onto a high platform) (groans) Get up there, Goddamn it! GET UP THERE! Get... up there! (Clears the jump and groans) No shitty game's complete without hard-to-reach jumps. (Gets killed by an enemy at the top of the screen) What the fuck was that shit?! You can't even see what's up there until it's too late!
(The Nerd lands on the same enemy, only to die from touching something)
The Nerd: Oh, fuck you, I can't even touch that little sideways ice cream cone? (It's actually a traffic cone) Come on, come on... (groans, gets hit by the same enemy again and grunts angrily)
(Enters a boss battle, only to be fighting a large floating Decepticon emblem)
The Nerd: (sarcastically) Oh wow. That's real creative. Having the Decepticon logo as a boss. That's like with the Ghostbusters game. (Shows a clip of the map screen from "Ghostbusters" on NES) That is so cheap. The logo belongs on the fucking cover.
(Attempting to kill two enemies hanging from the ceiling)
The Nerd: Oh, man, shoot it, shoot it! I can't fucking shoot these things! (Screams) All these jets, they just keep coming. (A jet flies into the screen) Oh no! (tries to evade the jet, but ends up falling and killing himself as he grunts angrily) You... scum-fucker! It's too narrow to jump, and it's not the right elevation to shoot him. So it's just a fucking death trap.
The Nerd: Gotta jump on the platform-- (a jet flies into the screen and hits him as he grunts in frustration) A jet. How am I supposed to ever predict when something's gonna fly into the screen and kill me?
The Nerd: But let me tell you about Stage 9. It's one of the cheapest, most unfair, most cryptic and fucked up levels in the history of games. You keep going to the right, only to play through the same stage again and again in an endless loop. There's nothing in the game explaining what you're supposed to do. You have to read up on the Internet to find out.
The Nerd: Turns out you're supposed to get a key. But that's not enough. You also have to follow a specific pattern, almost like a secret maze. Who was supposed to figure that out on their own? (Shows a clip of Bowser's Castle from Super Mario Bros.) It's a lot like in Super Mario Bros., where you're going through the castle. You have to go up, over, and under the platforms in the correct way, or else the stage repeats. But in Mario, it's much easier to guess. It's a whole lot shorter for one thing, but also there's not a million things trying to kill you!
The Nerd: It's hard to survive, let alone figure out the right pattern. And on top of that, the route that it makes you take is more difficult than the more common-sense way.
The Nerd: (Sighs heavily) I need some more hot sauce. (he drinks another drizzle of sauce) (In a boss battle with Megatron) It's the end of the road, Megatron! (Grunting) Come on, come on, die! (He grunts triumphantly and kills Megatron) BOOM! Yeah! Now that's some intense shit right there. In conclusion, all I can say about this game--
(While he is talking, the game music starts up again for the tenth and final stage. The Nerd pauses the game, stunned.)
The Nerd: Stage 10? I fucking beat Megatron, who the hell could be next? Fucking Stage 10, my ass. I'm guessing if Megatron's not the final boss, it's gotta be Galvatron or maybe Unicron or Fuckatron, who knows? (Discovers the final boss is Trypticon, in his form that makes him look like Mecha-Godzilla) Oh, it's Mecha-Godzilla. Of course, I should've known. (He drinks more hot sauce and proceeds to defeat Trypticon, and succeeds) (Sighs) Man. That was the hardest game I've ever beat. And all that trouble for an end screen that I can't even read.
(The end screen is shown. The translation from Japanese implies that the Nerd did not actually beat the game.)
The Nerd: I can now conclude that the game barely has anything to do with Transformers. It doesn't even have the music, with the exception of that part. (the startup song) Even the Commodore version had the fucking theme. (The Commodore version plays the Transformers Theme)
The Nerd: In this one, the same bland music plays through the whole game. The boss battles have their own music, but that's about it. Speaking of the bosses, it makes you wonder if the creators of this game even knew anything about Transformers. Did they have to resort to using the Decepticon logo 3 times? That's right; the same boss 3 times. And twice, the boss is like a nuclear macadamia nut inside of a moon. Like they didn't have enough Decepticon characters to choose from? Did they ever fucking watch the show?
The Nerd: As for the Autobots, even the Commodore version had a lot to choose from. Sure, they existed mostly in text, but at least it acknowledged them. But Transformers or not, it's just a fucking shithole of a bad game. Most of the levels are the same exact thing over and over, just modified slightly. And Stage 10 is just Stage 8 backwards.
The Nerd: But the big problem is the difficulty. Who is this game intended for? Certainly not gamers who wanted a reasonable challenge, or fans of Transformers. It disappoints in both ways.
The Nerd: So now, is it any wonder why this game was never released outside of Japan? 'Cause nobody else wants to play this fucking shit! Well, I gotta do, what I gotta do. (he picks up his Grey 1985 NES Zapper and aims it at the Famicom) One shall stand, one shall-- (suddenly, the Famicom transforms itself into a humanoid figure) (Exclaiming) Who are you?
Optimus Prime: My name is Optimus Prime.
The Nerd: Well, you don't look anything like-- (Optimus Prime shoots him as the Nerd yells)
Optimus Prime: I thought you were made of sterner stuff.