Review: Transformers: G1 Awakening (iPhone)

Transformers: G1 Awakening has been around for a while on mobile formats but only recently ported over to the iPhone. For £2.99 you can rewind your inner clocks to a time when life was simpler and morphing trucks into robots didn’t involve Michael Bay. Instead of an all out action game, developers Glu have opted for something more methodical with the mechanics of a turn-based strategy, a genre I tend to shy away from but my love of Transformers compelled me to play and I’m very pleased that I did.

As the name suggests, this title is based on the first generation TV series. After fleeing their home planet Cyberton and crashing into Earth, the Autobots lay dormant for four million years until they’re awoken by a volcano only to then do whatever they can to return home and save their enslaved comrades. But the Decepticons had followed them to Earth in order to put a stop to their efforts – curse them! If you have even the slightest interest in the original toys then visually, Transformers G1: Awakening will give your eyeballs a cuddle. This game sticks so closely with the original art, from the small map icons to the complete cel-shaded 3D models that make up the fight scenes. Inhabiting these scenes are 23 original characters including Autobots like Optimus Prime, Grimlock and Jetfire, all bringing their unique abilities to battle. You’ll meet Decepticons like Megatron, Starscream and the awesome Soundwave too. It’s a fanboys dream come true, even the title screen looks as if an 80’s toy box.

From there you can choose from three game modes; Story, Showdown and Cybertron Arena. Comprising of only 17 levels, the story mode is what I jumped into straight away and ended up powering through in around three hours. Veteran strategy gamers will take about an hour less which does initially make it a bit expensive at £2.99 but the puzzle levels in Showdown and the multiplayer Cybertron Arena do lengthen the game somewhat. The main objective in Story mode is to defeat all the Decepticons on the map, progress to the next level and repeat. Interweaving the potential monotony are a few puzzle missions where you can choose to take out the enemy or just complete the task and move on. One such level had me controlling Jetfire who had to acquire three power station without fighting anyone. These power stations reward you with extra Energon cubes for upgrading your Autobot units, healing them or activating more and feature in most levels. I found the Story mode to be incredibly addictive and really quite fun. The joy of seeing my favourite kids toy recreated so authentically coupled with an entertaining but possibly a little easy campaign made Transformers: G1 Awakening one of the best Transformers game I’ve had the fortune of playing.

Setting the tone perfectly is the infamous and often mimicked transformation sound and an end of turn jungle that sounds as if it were plucked from the original cartoon. Sadly we’re without the vocal talents of Peter Cullen or Frank Welker or indeed anyone as conversations are purely text based. The choice of your personal music library access is a nice inclusion but I was happy with what Glu had produced – plus I didn’t want to miss out on the nostalgia it created.

Such adoration does take a bit of a battering what with handling that can be a bit hit and miss at times. A fixed camera angle can cause units to look as if they’re occupying the same square and sometimes it felt like my presses weren’t registered. Zoom pinching does help but you’ll still be tapping more times than needed in some instances. There isn’t all that of a tutorial either so I found a trial and error approach was needed to learn the basics. A help section detailing some of the actions is available but a simple tutorial would have been helpful. It doesn’t have a huge impact of the game at all and no doubt those familiar with strategy games would have worked it all out quicker than I did.

It is a little short and therefore a tad more than what you’d normally pay for something offering a similar amount of gameplay but this is a must for fans of the Transformers‘ early years. Newcomers will find a comfortable challenge awaiting them although seasoned strategists may find it all a little too easy. But the capsulation in a gorgeously retro subject matter definitely makes up for the simplicity. Transformers: G1 Awakening isn’t more than meets the eye but that’s because what meets the eye is a fantastically traditional and approachable turn-based strategy game. You be hard-pressed to find a better Transformers experience.

A highly commendable game with some truly exceptional moments.


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