Retro Review: TransBot
Platform: Sega Master System
If there was an award for a game that wasn’t afraid to hide its influences, to a point where it would face legal action nowadays for copyright infringement, then TransBot would win hands down.
Released in 1986 (probably to capitalise on the release of the animated movie), TransBot is a Transformers game in all but its name.
Still, despite this not being an officially licensed Transformers game, at least it doesn’t feature leering up-skirt shots, racially stereotypical robots, or actual wrecking balls clanking between a Deceptacons legs! Michael Bay you have a lot to answer for!
TransBot is a side-scrolling shooter where you control a space ship which is attacked by wave upon wave of enemies. This is no different to the dozens of side-scrolling shooters that you have played except, there are times when your ship turns into a heavily armed robot.
As well as the standard enemies which attack you, an armoured carrier will occasionally zoom across the bottom of the screen. When you destroy it a token appears which gives you a power up to your standard weapon. Rather then you just receive a power up, the letters A to G scroll across the top of the screen, and you press a button to select the weapon you want. This adds a little bit of frustration as some weapons are better than others but, it does keep you on your toes.
My main criticism of the game is that your ship moves too slowly making flight and evading enemies a real problem. You do have a health bar but, I would have expected a spaceship to be a bit more agile. My other criticism is that as far as I can tell there are only two levels which repeat over and over, meaning you will get bored very quickly. It also appears that Transformers isn’t the only influence as the final boss looks exactly like an ATST from Return of the Jedi.
I was curious to see how TransBot held up after all these years and I’m sad to say that time hasn’t been kind. It’s an interesting game mainly from the point of view that it is such an obvious rip off of Transformers but, in all honesty your time could be spent playing a multitude of better side-scrolling shooters.
Graphics – Decent graphics for 1986, with your ship/robot being the highlight but, the enemies and backgrounds are uninspired. 4
Sound – The music and sound effects are ok but nothing special. 3
Playability – There are far better side-scrolling shooters out there and the lack of speed of your ship will be a major frustration. 3
Re-Playability – I played the game twice. I didn’t reach the second level on my first play though but, then completed the second level on my next play through. Put it like this, I didn’t play it a third time. 2
Overall – TransBot is an interesting game in as much as it’s funny to see a game which is so unashamedly influenced (or not afraid to copy) something else. As a side scrolling shooter it is ok but, you would be better off playing games like Apidya, UN Squadron or the excellent Z-Exemplar. 3