Toying With My Emotions: More Transformers Devastation

Just a quick update on Transformers Devastation, which I got all excited about yesterday – partly because it’s the Bayonetta/Metal Gear Revengywengy devs making it but mostly because I’M A HELPLESS MANCHILD WHO REMAINS FASCINATED BY PLASTIC ROBOT TOYS HELP ME HELP ME HELP ME OH GOD WHAT’S WRONG WITH ME.

Last night, we got a better look at how Platinum’s 80s-styled robo-brawler actually plays. It’s a lovely-looking thing and oozes fan service from every cel-shaded pore, but I’m feeling it less than I was.

Part of the reason for that is my own horrible pointless fanboy purity: fights in G1 Transformers usually involved a row of robots shooting inaccurately at another row of robots, before transforming and driving/flying away. This is a torrent of hyperspeed melee strikes, and that dissonance only grows when you have tiny Bumblebee turning into a yellow whirlwind and kicking massive Megatron’s hovering keister. No. Megatron would just flatten the over-used bug immediately, and I know I’d cheer.

But it’s more than that: there’s a weightless quality to it all, leaving me worried there won’t be much sense that these are massive metal men going at it. In fairness, that’s something any Transformers fiction has struggled to maintain: you need to show the towering bots in context to Earthlings to meaningfully demonstrate their massiveness, but that quickly becomes dull because it’s so much more entertaining to see the Transformers interact with each other than with puny humans. So it becomes a soap opera starring colourful, cubey people, and here we are. Only there’s no talk and only war here:

Clearly, it needs to be fast and involved to feel sufficiently game-y, but I worry that it’s too fast. We shall see. Excruciatingly awkward interview with Platinum there too, but it can’t be easy when you’ve got a live translator involved.

So I’m less sure now that Devastation is the Transformers game I’ve long craved (because, really, I want the soap opera, the science fiction and most of all some sense of direct, personal involvement in transformation – I love the figures because they’re carefully-engineered logic puzzles, not because they’re little men with guns), but I can’t deny that it looks the part, or that I’ll play it. I will. I so will. I do like the way they’ve integrated transformation into combat, and the cast of characters can’t be faulted (I’d be so down with Animated Movie DLC that added in Ultra Magnus and Galvatron). The Soundwave/tapes boss fight looks like a treat, too. I just hope that talk of tweakable difficulty settings means there’s a way to make my bots feel consciously lumbering rather than like flying papercraft.

Still, though: it is frankly astonishing that this game is happening. Or maybe it isn’t: increasingly, it seems that nostalgia is enormously bankable, and rights-holders are now ready and willing to cash in on that wherever they can.

14 Comments

  1. shinkshank says:

    Surely ” Cashing in on nostalgia ” means going to some lesser jagoff dev who can quickly spit out a franchise game on a minimal budget, not someone like Platinum who’s held really high in terms of their quality.

    • pepperfez says:

      It’s still converting nostalgia into dollars, only conscientiously. I mean, it presumably never would have gotten the green light without the known existence of those nostalgiabucks.

    • ulix says:

      Platinum isn’t a “jagoff dev who can quickly spit out a franchise game on a minimal budget”? Hmmm… Legend of Korra… hmmm…

      • RobF says:

        The big problem with making ANY licensed game is that you’re going to be boxed in by what the dudes who hold the license allow. And the more you head into kids cartoon territory, the more you’re going to find yourself pushed up against it. Doing anything even vaguely good in that model is a miracle, in the main.

        I hope, I suspect, it’s more likely that Transformers can/will have some leeway on this. But also I’m not sure Activision are the publisher to work with to give that either.

        Either way, I like the idea of a car smashing a robot in the face so I’m hopeful.

      • shinkshank says:

        Fair point, but I’d also say Korra was far better than the crummy licensed game norm.

  2. Guvornator says:

    Interesting – it seems like a lot of the reflections aren’t reflections at all, but are just painted on. Hopefully that’ll change. But after the slash-y joy that was MG: Revengeance, I’m prepared to give them the benefit of the doubt.

    • Ross Angus says:

      I’m really impressed by the visuals – more than any other cell-shaded game I’ve seen, this looks hand-drawn. They’ve really captured something of the original animation style.

  3. merzbau says:

    Honestly, I’m a little worried- Platinum are brilliant, but their record isn’t perfect, and the conspicuous turd in their punchbowl (of…games?) is also a licensed beat-’em-up based on a cartoon. Their Legend of Korra game is, by all accounts, shit.

    • pepperfez says:

      It’s been mentioned a few places that LoK was always intended as a budget title, whereas this is a full-scale major game. And as I understand it, even that one wasn’t so much awful as disappointing by Platinum standards.

  4. Razumen says:

    This looks like a lot of fun, and SUPREME BONUS EXTRA POINTS for using the classic generation’s style rather than the crapfests that are the modern designs.

  5. thanosi says:

    On the other hand…It’s like a lost 80’s cartoon come to life and become playable, even with the original cast! Frank Welker as Megatron and Soundwave for gods sake! Some odd looking floaty combat aside I could not be more excited.

  6. DrZhark says:

    hey Alec. If you’re having trouble with plastic robot toys and want to get cured, check Bandai’s Saint Seiya lineup. The new soul of gold figures are on pre sale now. No more robots, just sayin’

  7. Jason Moyer says:

    For some reason I feel like Platinum’s style of over-the-top almost-nonsensical spectacle combat is a perfect fit for G1 Transformers.

  8. philby says:

    “So I’m less sure now that Devastation is the Transformers game I’ve long craved (because, really, I want the soap opera, the science fiction and most of all some sense of direct, personal involvement in transformation”

    Did you play Fall of Cybertron? I thought this was pretty good on most of these points. Maybe not transformation as such because it is just a button press and you watch the animation.