Friday, December 18, 2009

Transformers: War for Cybertron Interview with Hasbro, Activision, and Full Moon Studios was contacted by Neil Wood from Step-3 about putting together a phone interview/conference call where we would have the chance to interview some folks from Hasbro and Activision about the upcoming "Transformers: War for Cybertron" video game. We were, of course, quite interested in the opportunity to get an inside scoop from the producers of this exciting new chapter for the Transforms brand. We were also able to get some questions answered by email from Full Moon Studios. Check out the entire exciting interview below.

The Conference Call included the following people
Neil Wood – Step-3
Kelvin Liu
– Activision
Danny – Activision
Dan – Hasbro
Aaron Archer – Hasbro
Jason Lukis – interviewer

Email Q&A with:
Matt Tieger Game Director, High Moon Studios

Introduction: As you may know, “Transformers: War for Cybertron” is a brand new game set for 2010. The game takes place at the home planet of Cybertron. There is a huge epic story of the civil war that takes between the Autobots and the Decepticons. What we are going to explore today is the Hasbro angle of things. How did Aaron Archer and the Hasbro team work with High Moon on the story which was written from the ground up, the new art visualization, and also the planet which has never really been seen in the 3D medium, and how Hasbro plans to utilize this story line for any kind of future lore for Transformers. Tell us about Hasbro’s involvement in a project like this. How does something like this come about, was it approached by Full Mon Studios, Activision, or was it Hasbro’s idea to have a non-movie based videogame made?

Aaron: My first engagement that I recall was that we basically had a brainstorm at Activision where High Moon came in and talked about some ideas that they were thinking of, that we also had been thinking of: this history prior to coming to earth, and how can we certainly make a new statement for Transformers. Right then and there we basically said “well what about something like a year or so out from when they were leaving for earth, looking at how Optimus and Megatron started this epic battle on the home planet.” We all know what ended up after that, but we really haven’t seen too much during that period of civil war prior to leaving. So, we worked it through together and that’s kind of how it came together. Was the story primarily conceived at Hasbro?

Aaron: Well, I think that any time we engage with any partner, it’s a two way street. There are things that we needed to do for a videogame, but as far as I am concerned there are a lot of half truths, and kind of innuendos as far as what the true story from that era is. I felt that it was time that we figured out how to boldly, tell it more directly, and then that wraps into the game play, the characters that you beat and battle, so there is real honest to goodness cannon in this game, prior to them leaving. That’s what we want to hear! Just to clarify, is there any relation to War-Within, Storm-Bringer, Movie?

Aaron: Well the movie is always its own thing, so we can kind of put that off to the side, and understand how that works… My job at Hasbro is to take everything that has come before, from its unplanned manner, and help make the next best engagements story wise. From the designs from the comics, and story elements from the cartoons from the 80s, particularly people’s favorites and all of those kinds of things, to try to make sense out of all of that stuff. So, I don’t know if it will dove tail perfectly into everything you’ve ever read, but I think it’ll make it all a little bit more interesting. In particular, you mentioned some fan favorites… How does the character selection happen for a project like this?

Aaron: For me, working with the High Moon team, it’s interesting working on a video game because there are certain rules. Any format has certain rules, you know, you can’t build hundreds of characters and make them all unique the way you can in a drawing, but High Moon had an idea for the types of things they wanted to put in the game, and we found the right characters that fit that need, so that’s where there will be some surprises because the character was the right character for that kind of game play need as well as the favorites that you almost have to put in a Transformers item. It was exciting, those characters were pulled from a range of places. We had 25 years to pull from so it makes it a fun list to call out. Certainly a lot of rich characters to pull from. We’ve heard that many of you guys at Hasbro have a lot of your own favorite characters that they’d like to see get into things. Here’s a question for everybody: Is there any one character that you’re particularly excited about that managed to make its way into the game?

Aaron: … That’s a tricky question at the moment because I don’t think we’re going to divulge exactly who is in the game today, but anybody who works on any of these kinds of things finds ways to put in their passions, and that’s what makes interesting comics, cartoons, movies, and games, so I think there’s something in there for everybody. The people who worked on this all have different Transformers experiences and pulled forward some of their favorites. There’s an interesting range and I’m glad that there’s a lot of G1 characters that Hasbro really hasn’t touched on in the last couple of years that we found a good reason to put in this game and have a second day in the sun, so to speak. I guess that’s where I’ll leave it. Is there anything that will particularly surprise us about the game, that we haven’t seen before. How is this format, a different game play/style going to bring something new and different to the Transformers Brand?

Aaron: I primarily focus on the brand. The components that are going to make a great game for what Activision wants to do are best left to them, but some of the story elements that we were able to put into this game, that everybody knows, but we’ve never seen is probably the thing that excites me the most. It is pretty well agreed upon amongst fans that the Media improves Toy experience and the Toys improve Media experience. Are there plans for any of these character models to make there way into plastic at some point?

Aaron: I think that we’re going to take a look at this game and several things that we hope to do across the time line in which this takes place, to make it obvious what the true story is from this era. So I wouldn’t rule it out, but we’re not really prepared to talk about the other things that we might be doing yet. We’re going to focus on the game today, but the game puts us in a wonderful position to be able to tell this story to the biggest audience given the reach of videogames. So in the interaction between Hasbro and High Moon Studio on a project like this, how does this process differ from the development of a TV show like Transformers: Animated for instance?

Aaron: I think that every format has its own challenges. You know, the game is a finite amount of time, range of characters, movements, and things. We focus it on that, so anything that we work with any partner on, we make sure that it maximizes what they bring to the party. I would say it’s a strong partnership in that regard, which would be different than in a cartoon where there are different ways it gets out to the market, different people it touches, all those kinds of things. On the last movie game we saw, there was some downloadable content for the games that was available for the PS3 and Xbox360, but not the PC version of the game. Is there any downloadable content in the works, and will it be available broadly, or just those two again?

Activison: You’ll just have to stay tuned for more announcements on the game very soon. We can do that ~:^)

Activison: It’s a little too early to talk about that, but that was a nice try. Doesn't hurt to ask right? So, as far as the game play goes, it appears that Optimus will be a playable character. Will there be various playable characters regardless of number and who they are?

Activison: Your top ten favorites will definitely be in there. Optimus, Megatron, Bumblebee, Starscream, and again, a huge roster of others that we’re not yet talking about at this time, but we’re really excited to talk about it and we can’t wait really. We’ve seen some pictures from Game Informer Magazine, and I just want to know who we have to thank for that fantastic looking Soundwave?

Aaron: Well, I think it’s a shared experience with the High Moon artists and the Hasbro brand guardians, to come up with a guy that we really haven’t seen in a good mode on Cybertron into a cool look that hopefully you remember, so I guess we’re doing our job. Well, you’re doing it really well! I think that in the sneak peeks we have gotten to see, the fandom is really pleased. We’re loving the new styled look and the reimagining of these great characters.

Last Question, Are there plans to continue/build on this particular non-movie universe either in other media venues, or more games titles, or is this looked at as more of a “one-off” story?

Aaron: We just haven’t announced those plans. I just think it sets us up to be able to do a lot more with that part of the story than we’ve ever been able to, so that’s where we’re leave it. Well, on behalf of, all our readers, and site visitors, I’d like to thank you all for your time.

--- Email interview with Matt Tieger: Game Director at High Moon Studios --- Tell us a bit more specifically about the game play. How will this work in alternate modes? How does the game play change when different characters are used?

Matt: Transformers: War for Cybertron is a 3rd person action shooter set completely on the planet of Cybertron. The gameplay is firmly rooted in “feel right under your thumb” core gameplay mechanics and layered with unique Transformers strategy. By that I mean using vehicle forms whenever you want, triggering unique active abilities, and working together as a team. In what ways does the Transformers concept change/add/augment the 1st person shooter game play format for gamers? In other words, what were you able to do with Transformers: War for Cybertron that hasn't been seen in this style game before?

Matt: I believe we are giving gamers a high quality shooter first and foremost - Transformers is a second strategic layer on top of that. Gamers will feel immediately comfortable with the gameplay style and controls; allowing them to quickly dive into the unique strategic choices right away. Which character was the most fun to design? How long did it take?

Matt: I have enjoyed designing all the characters immensely. One that I am particularly proud of is Bumblebee. He was actually the very first character that we redesigned. Figuring out ‘our’ take on transformers while still keeping the key elements of him was a dream to craft. He also holds a special place for me because that piece of initial concept art was the very first thing I slid across the table to Hasbro when I pitched them on this game, the art style and the story. From everyone here at thanks for taking the time to answer some questions about Transformers: War for Cybertron. We can’t wait to see what else you’ve got up your sleeves.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


New Action Game Delves Deep into the TRANSFORMERS Universe, Introduces All-New Visualizations of Iconic Characters in 2010

Santa Monica, CA – December 16, 2009 – Experience the legendary battle between the AUTOBOTS and DECEPTICONS as Activision Publishing, Inc. (Nasdaq: ATVI) announced today that Transformers: War for Cybertron is in development by award-winning High Moon Studios. Based on Hasbro’s legendary TRANSFORMERS property, the game takes players to the TRANSFORMERS characters’ home planet of CYBERTRON for a new look into the epic story of the grand civil war that spawned one of the most brutal rivalries of all time.

Transformers: War for Cybertron is an origins story, taking players on a gripping, adrenaline-fueled journey that precedes the TRANSFORMERS characters’ arrival on Earth,” said Rob Kostich, head of marketing, licensed products, Activision Publishing, Inc. “The game transports players to a living, metallic planet where they will battle as giant converting robots in single player, online co-op or head-to-head multiplayer matches that are fully immersive from start to finish.”

“For the first time, Hasbro is working with Activision to drive the TRANSFORMERS fiction forward into new story arcs, demonstrating pivotal moments in Transformers history that defined who they are,” said Aaron Archer, Senior Design Director, Hasbro. “This remarkable video game helps us to tell a critical event in TRANSFORMERS lore that will be used as canon for future storylines in a way we could have only dreamed of a few years ago. It is a testament to the success of the TRANSFORMERS brand and a key element to the story we look forward to telling in 2010 and beyond.”

Transformers: War for Cybertron features two distinct storylines: the AUTOBOT campaign tells a story of heroism to save their home planet against overwhelming odds, and the DECEPTICON campaign tells a story of an unquenchable thirst for power to control the universe. For the first time in a TRANSFORMERS title, fans will be able to play the game with their friends through team-based online co-op, or go head to head in a variety of intense, online multiplayer game modes. The game features a sci-fi art style that introduces to fans the entire living, metallic world of CYBERTRON, as well as all-new visualizations of the iconic TRANSFORMERS characters in their original Cybertronian forms.

Transformers: War for Cybertron is in development for the Xbox 360® video game and entertainment system from Microsoft, PlayStation®3 computer entertainment system, Windows PC, Wii™ and Nintendo DS, and is not yet rated by the ESRB.

For more information and to receive exclusive updates about the Transformers: War for Cybertron video game,


Hasbro, Inc. (NYSE:HAS) is a worldwide leader in children’s and family leisure time products and services with a rich portfolio of brands and entertainment properties that provides some of the highest quality and most recognizable play and recreational experiences in the world. As a brand-driven, consumer-focused global company, Hasbro brings to market a range of toys, games and licensed products, from traditional to high-tech and digital, under such powerful brand names as TRANSFORMERS, PLAYSKOOL, TONKA, MILTON BRADLEY, PARKER BROTHERS, CRANIUM and WIZARDS OF THE COAST. Come see how we inspire play through our brands at © 2009 Hasbro, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

About Activision Publishing, Inc.

Headquartered in Santa Monica, California, Activision Publishing, Inc. is a leading worldwide developer, publisher and distributor of interactive entertainment and leisure products.

Activision Publishing maintains operations in the U.S., Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Sweden, Spain, Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands, Australia, Russia, Japan, South Korea, China and the region of Taiwan. More information about Activision and its products can be found on the company’s website,

Cautionary Note Regarding Forward-looking Statements: Information in this press release that involves Activision Publishing’s expectations, plans, intentions or strategies regarding the future are forward-looking statements that are not facts and involve a number of risks and uncertainties. Activision Publishing generally uses words such as “outlook,” “will,” “could,” “would,” “might,” “remains,” “to be,” “plans,” “believes,” “may,” “expects,” “intends,” “anticipates,” “estimate,” future,” “plan,” “positioned,” “potential,” “project,” “remain,” “scheduled,” “set to,” “subject to,” “upcoming” and similar expressions to identify forward-looking statements. Factors that could cause Activision Publishing’s actual future results to differ materially from those expressed in the forward-looking statements set forth in this release include, but are not limited to, sales levels of Activision Publishing’s titles, shifts in consumer spending trends, the impact of the current macroeconomic environment, the seasonal and cyclical nature of the interactive game market, Activision Publishing’s ability to predict consumer preferences among competing hardware platforms, declines in software pricing, product returns and price protection, product delays, retail acceptance of Activision Publishing’s products, adoption rate and availability of new hardware (including peripherals) and related software, industry competition, rapid changes in technology, industry standards and consumer preferences, protection of proprietary rights, litigation against Activision Publishing, maintenance of relationships with key personnel, customers, licensees, licensors, vendors and third-party developers, counterparty risks relating to customers, licensees, licensors and manufacturers, domestic and international economic, financial and political conditions and policies, foreign exchange rates and tax rates, integration of recent acquisitions and the identification of suitable future acquisition opportunities, and the other factors identified in the risk factors section of Activision Blizzard’s most recent annual report on Form 10-K and any subsequent quarterly reports on Form 10-Q. The forward-looking statements in this release are based upon information available to Activision Publishing and Activision Blizzard as of the date of this release, and neither Activision Publishing nor Activision Blizzard assumes any obligation to update any such forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements believed to be true when made may ultimately prove to be incorrect. These statements are not guarantees of the future performance of Activision Publishing or Activision Blizzard and are subject to risks, uncertainties and other factors, some of which are beyond its control and may cause actual results to differ materially from current expectations.

# # #

HASBRO and its logo, TRANSFORMERS and all related characters are trademarks of Hasbro and are used with permission. © 2010 Hasbro. All Rights Reserved. Game © 2010 Activision Publishing, Inc. Activision is a registered trademark of Activision Publishing, Inc. All rights reserved.

All other trademarks and trade names are the properties of their respective owners.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Hasbro Q&A 10/21/2009

Hello Transformers Team,

Here are our questions for this round of Transformers Q&A. Thanks!, question 1:
Over the last few months, we have seen more 'appearances' of characters in their 'Classics/Universe' toy forms appearing in IDW comics (such as Prowl, Sideswipe, Sunstreaker, etc...). Is this a coincidence or is Hasbro making a deliberate attempt to integrate the comics storytelling with toys that are/were/will be available? I guess what we'd like to know is if the G1 characters appearing with a more movie-like aesthetic that we have seen, is any possible indication of what we may expect to see in toy form in the future?

Hasbro, Transformers Team:
Overall, we want to continue to align our product and content (movies, comics, novels, video games, etc.) to feature certain characters. As a result, we are sure that there will certainly be more of these points of integration between product and content happening in the near future. Question #2

We are still trying to reconcile the Revenge of the Fallen Constructicons. There have been several theories:
a.) There are only one construction vehicle that turns into one component robot and unites with fellow team members to form Devastator. This is the G1-paradigm. For this to be true, we must assume events in the movie are depicted out of order, that Devastator took his tumble off the pyramid, then each component transformed, off-screen back to robot form and rejoined the Autobot vs. Decepticon battle...
b.) There are fictionally, more than one Decepticon with identical construction vehicle alternate modes. Fans should assume that the Mixmaster that go gutted by Jetfire is a different, non-related character to the cement mixer Decepticon component of Devastator.
c.) There are fictionally only 1 construction vehicle that turns into a robot. But, Devastator, like the toy, is one entity comprised of 6 vehicles that don't turn into component robots. One could suppose that Scavenger, a different individual than Demolisher, could be controlling all the rest -non sentient vehicles?
d.) Something else we haven't thought of????
Please provide us an official explanation?!

Hasbro, Transformers Team
The quick answer to your question is one that you provided, Option B. Simply stated, there are a race of Transformers called Combiners that are not limited to one form or method of combining. Needless to say, there are a lot of things that can happen within this and other races of Transformers., Question 3a
Can you share any estimated release dates/store-locations for Transformers Animated items such as Season 3 on DVD, and/or toys like hydrodive Bumblebee, Blackout, Hot Rod and Arcee?

Hasbro, Transformers Team
We will be releasing Animated Deluxe Cybertronian Ratchet and Arcee in Spring 2010., Question 3b
Will there be a Universe 3.0, with any new-mold homages to the Unicron Trilogy, like Hot Shot? Also wondering, was the announcement of a ROTF Bludgeon and Mindwipe an intentional homage to The Chaos Trinity from The War Within, and if so, are there any plans to release a Bugly toy to complete the trio?

Hasbro, Transformers Team
While it is still too early to discuss our plans past Spring 2010, we certainly appreciate everyone's interest in the next iteration of the Classics/Universe line. There are plenty of great heritage characters left to do and we look forward to bringing these to you in some form or fashion in the near, not so distant future as there certainly will be plenty of surprises to come!"

Friday, July 31, 2009

Video Game Review: Transformers Revenge of the Fallen PS360

REVIEW: Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360by: TriPredRavage
Let’s face it; movie games have a bad rep. It’s true! They not only have to capture the experience of the film, but they have to expand upon it in order to make a completely fulfilling game. And very rarely, has this formula worked out. Now Revenge of the Fallen steps up to the plate.

The game follows the basic plot of the movie… sort of. Normally when a game enters into this realm of playing for both sides, it is to be able to tell a complete story. However, the Autobot and Decepticon campaigns actually have nothing to do with one another. This somewhat makes for having two distinct narratives, but the result is more like two incomplete stories.

Both stories start off in Shanghai where they encounter enemy forces. They then quickly move to other parts of the world such as the West and East Coasts of the States, the middle of the Ocean, and then Egypt.

And that’s about it. The story isn’t very deep and short of the opening cinematic and the story ending cinematics, there are virtually no cinematics to speak of. Before each mission you will see the team members standing around talking about the mission at hand. After each mission, they are all shown again discussing what has happened, and then several more little conversations ensue based upon how well you did in the mission.

Like I’ve said, both storylines are rather choppy. For example (spoiler alert!): in the Decepticon campaign, Megatron and Optimus set to fight in a crowded city. The result: Megatron kills Optimus. However, in the climactic battle between Megatron Flight Mode and the Fallen, Optimus is communicating with Megatron via his comm-link without any explanation as to how Optimus was revived. I thought this issue would be covered in the Autobot campaign, but as it turns out Optimus doesn’t even die in the Autobot storyline. So, his revival remains a mystery.

Playable Autobots: Optimus Prime, Ironhide, Ratchet, Bumblebee, Breakaway, and Powered-Up Optimus Prime (last level only)
Playable Decepticons: Starscream, Long Haul, Sideways, Grindor, Megatron, and Megatron Flight Mode (last level only)
Several other characters make appearances, but are, sadly, unplayable.

Each Autobot and Decepticon has their own unique play style, while each retains a role to fill. Ironhide and Grindor are weapons specialists who can plant gun-turrets to do their dirty work. Breakaway and Sideways are snipers. Ratchet and Long Haul are healers, etc… Now, despite these common roles, each character is their own due to certain abilities, such as flight, or their individual weapons. There really is a character for every type of play style in this game, and everyone should find at least one character they are comfortable playing as.

One of the problems with the game is the ability to play as characters in specific levels. Starting off each mission, you can only play as a select few characters per zone. By performing certain tasks, the other members of the teams become unlocked to be played in these zones. These tasks are easy enough to accomplish, but I would have preferred just being able to choose my character from the start, as some of the game’s decisions on who is appropriate are completely off, such as Bumblebee versing Devastator.

However, the level Deep Six, which takes place over the ocean on military ships, only allows characters with the ability of flight to participate. While this is understandable, they only permit Starscream, Grindor, and Breakaway to participate. It would have been nice if after completing the stories to have Optimus’ and Megatron’s flight modes be added to the roster of previous levels, but this was an oversight.

Also, I take issue with the character Breakaway. Flight characters naturally have a “hit and run” appeal to them, but Breakaway is the Autobot sniper. Getting him to a secure place to snipe is difficult and he isn’t very strong in any other form of combat. Because of this mix-and-match of flight and snipe, he feels like a character with an identity crisis.

There are a handful of unlockable bonus content in Revenge of the Fallen, including G1 and alternate color palettes for characters as well as classic G1 episodes to view. These features are nice and I couldn’t help but play in the alternate colors of characters every chance I had.

This game also marks the first time that a Transformers game has true online multiplayer. That said, the online isn’t really all that spectacular. Matches pretty much result in what fights from the old cartoons were, where it’s merely two forces duking it out, and there really isn’t much to offer. Decepticons seem to have a substantial advantage considering most of their ranks can fly, and this made all of the matches I played rather one-sided.

Let’s talk graphics. The graphics are nice, but I can’t help but feel that they aren’t up to stuff. I played the PlayStation 3 version of the game, and I must admit that while in gameplay the graphics look fine, they really aren’t anything to write home about. The locals feature the dark and gritty browns and grays that have become synonymous with games of today. Ultimately I feel that the Transformers game for the PlayStation 2 still has the best graphics of all TF games.

The voice acting is strong considering that a majority of the voices are provided by the movie actors. The exceptions include Megatron, Soundwave, the Fallen, and Jetfire. Megatron I can understand as he was once again played by Frank Welker, but I can’t figure out why he didn’t play Soundwave as he did in the film. Likewise, Mark Ryan played Bumblebee like he did in the first film, but did not play Jetfire’s game counterpart as he did in the film. Nevertheless, the game features great voice talent. Along with the majority of the film actors, the game also features Neil Kaplan, Fred Tatasciore, and John DiMaggio.

Truly, my only complaint with the voices of this game is that the Decepticon voices are very synthesized. Starscream’s voice, in fact, is so synthesized that he sounds exactly like Sky-Byte from Transformers: Robots in Disguise, despite that they are played by two completely different actors.

Finally, the controls. The game features a very unique control scheme with the face buttons being dedicated to different attacks and abilities, and the shoulder buttons being set to Transforming and firing weapons. This gets confusing as in order to access weapon mode, you must first hold down the L2 button to enter weapons mode, and then fire with the R2 button. However, the R2 button is also the Transform trigger, and when in the heat of combat, trying to enter weapons mode quickly can result in accidentally Transforming. It takes a little bit of getting used to, but in the end, the controls work out.

I know this review doesn’t make the best of the game, but it’s hard to ignore all of its shortcomings. Despite these, the game actually is quite fun and enjoyable. It’s just far too short and doesn’t offer as much as we would have hoped, or even as much as the developers had claimed. I probably would have been more forgiving if it wasn’t a fully priced game.

That said, is Revenge of the Fallen a complete game: no. Did it leave me wanting more: yes. Did I enjoy playing it: yes. Does it have a healthy dose of bonus content: yes. All in all, I recommend the game, but ONLY when the game’s price tag drops down to about $20. It’s the only way you will truly find the buried treasure in this sandbox.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Video Game Review: Transformers PS2

REVIEW: Transformers for PlayStation 2by: TriPredRavage
I think by now it’s safe to say that, while the Unicron Trilogy provided us with some great toys and a series to watch, the show plots weren’t all that spectacular. Which brings us to this game.

This game was delayed several times before its release, even being delayed for about a year after its original proposed release date. I can actually remember seeing a behind the scenes for the making of this game in a movie theater once. But I must say, it was worth the wait. This was the first Transformers game to do it right.

The game took only the essentials from Transformers: Armada and put them to work. This being Transformer designs, the Mini-Cons, and Unicron.

The game begins by showing the Mini-Cons escape from Cybertron and landing on Earth. We then move to Cybertron where a battle is raging and Optimus is getting whooped. This is also where we get our first classic Transformers quote spoken by David Kaye’s Armada Megatron “I would have waited an eternity for this.” A beacon then arrives from the Mini-Cons that Megatron tracks the origin of back to Earth. The Autobots and Decepticons then take their leave to Earth in order to retrieve them.

Each Mini-Con obtained can be equipped as a different weapon for your Autobot, as well as having their signature Mini-Con partner from the Armada cartoon that can Powerlinx to add power to attacks, but at the cost of draining the Autobot’s health.

Once all drop zones are completed, the Autobots return to Cybertron to defeat Unicron. The Mini-Cons Powerlinx together to form a flight-pack and cannon for the played Autobot to stand a chance against Unicron.

The game features three playable Autobots: Optimus Prime, Hotshot, and Red Alert. Several Decepticons make appearances as bosses, including: Megatron, Starscream, Cyclonus, Tidal Wave, and of course, Unicron himself.

The level designs are huge and a player can easily get lost along the way. Each level has several Space Bridge ports that act as checkpoints and ways back to the Autobot hanger to change Mini-Cons and played Autobot. Overall, the levels feature a “point A to point B” feel, with a starting point and destination to be reached.

All that said, we now get to the nitty-gritty.

This game is beautiful and features what I think are some of the best graphics the PS2 had/has to offer. The cinematic graphics are so clean and clear, the locations and robots look real, which is quite the feat for the time. The gameplay graphics are just a step below them with the reduction in quality being rather negligible.

The game also features the best rag-doll physics I have ever seen in a videogame. I know that sounds like a rather irrelevant thing to say, but it actually provides some strange entertainment to the game.

Everything is vivid and vibrant in this game. The colors are bright, the locations are expansive and detailed, and at no point is there any location that has the dark brown and grey of today’s games. Even the inside of a Decepticon aircraft carrier, which is later revealed to be Tidal Wave, is vibrant and exciting.

The voice acting in this game is great. Some veterans return, such as Garry Chalk and David Kaye reprising their roles of Optimus and Megatron respectively, as well as Daran Norris (voice of RiD Heavy Load) returning to Transformers as Red Alert, while others feature new voices to the Transformes franchise. Nonetheless, the acting is strong and the characters are played well.

There are also several scenes of homage to other Transformers titles within the game. Several characters speak classic lines, while Megatron’s death in the game is very familiar to Galvatron’s demise in Armada.

Sadly, the game does feature its incredibly small roster and only features Autobot gameplay. I personally would have at least liked to have seen Armada Jetfire enter the fray, but I understand that it would have taken away from when the Mini-Con who gives the glide ability is introduced. Of course, they could have introduced Jetfire instead of this Mini-Con, but I digress. I can excuse not being able to play as the Decepticons, but it would have been nice to have a little more variety on the Autobots’ side.

Finally, the game has an incredible amount of bonus content. From video players, to music players, to production models and concept art, it has it all. It even features classic G1 public service announcements that I found to be some of the best bonus content in the game. It’s a very fulfilling experience.

I wholeheartedly believe that this is the best Transformers game to date. Transformers games of today should be building off of this game, rather than experimenting with other things. Yes it has its FEW shortcomings, but the game itself is a great experience. You got a lot of bang for your buck and nowadays it’s even cheaper. If you passed on this game and ever thought about purchasing it, do so. Especially with its reduced price due to its five years of age, you will not be disappointed.

Next time, we move to the sandbox…

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Video Game Review: Beast Wars Transmetals N64

REVIEW: Transformers: Beast Wars; Transmetals for Nintendo 64by: TriPredRavage
Seeing as this game’s story is the same as the PS1 version, let’s get straight to the specifics.

Once again, we have eight playable characters, four per team.

Playable Maximals include: Optimus Primal, Cheetor, Rattrap, and Airazor.
Playable Predacons include: Megatron, Tarantulus, Waspinator, and Terrorsaur.

You can play through the story mode as any individual character rather than character selecting before each match, similar to a typical Arcade fighter. Provided you defeat arcade mode without any continues, you will face the ultimate boss, Megatron X, who is essentially just Transmetal Megatron with some wings tacked on. But don’t let the appearance fool you. He’s a beast coming in with twice as much health as you or any of the previous challengers, and easily has the strongest moves in the game.

This game is set to be in replacement of season two of the show, so Megatron’s ending ends with him successfully destroying Optimus Prime and the Maximals no longer existing. Interestingly enough, the game poses an unforeseen circumstance of Megatron’s plan which basically said: with Optimus Prime dead, no one took the Matrix, so in 2005 when Unicron arrived, who stood up to him?” Good question! Guess Megatron didn’t really think that one out…

This game is also a fighter, but it isn’t an over-the-head fighter like its PS1 counterpart. Instead, it plays in a “fighting cobras” sideview format, but the characters can freely roam amongst a 3D plane. This pretty much results in characters running in circles trying to shoot one another. It’s not exactly the best design.

This game also includes secret characters that are unlocked through holding certain buttons while selecting a character. These characters include: Tigatron, Ravage, Blackarachnia, and Starscream. The thing about these characters, however, is that while in the PS1 version the secret characters were at least designed to look like their show/figure counterparts, the N64 versions are merely different colors. For example, Ravage looks just like Cheetor, only in black and grey with a Decepticon symbol on his chest and Ravage’s voice.

An interesting note is how many alternate color schemes the characters have in this game. The majority of them have four alternate colors, of which several seem to be dedicated to G1 and other characters:

Cheetor features a Transmetal Tigatron skin predating Tigatron’s Botcon Transmetal figure in addition to the secret characters Tigatron and Ravage.
Rattrap again features his blue Wal-Mart exclusive colors that were later dubbed Transmetal Packrat, but he also features a pallet that makes him look like his non-Transmetal form.
Airazor features a largely pink and white color scheme reminiscent of Arcee, and then also features a primarily black scheme that, if the imagination is stretched, could pass as a reference to Nightbird.
Megatron features a color scheme that may or may not have later inspired that of Armada Predacon.
Waspinator, in addition to his non-Transmetal appearance for Starscream, also features his Fox Kids yellow and black color scheme.
Terrorsaur also features a color scheme that may have inspired a later figure’s appearance as Beast Machines Dinobot Terranotron.

This is interesting because while the game was on the Nintendo 64, which was capable of having four players at once, the game does not feature four player multi-play. This means that these colors are virtually just under glorified swag, but are appreciated nonetheless.

This brings me to the graphics. The PlayStation One version’s graphics were pretty much on par with a lot of other PS1 titles. They were blocky and kind of awkward, but they looked like the characters. The Nintendo 64 version, on the other had, uses more round and natural seeming graphics, but again, past the original cast of characters, they didn’t put any design into the secret characters other than changing their colors and voices. So it’s hard to say which version has better graphics, as such obviously different focuses were taken in each version.

This version of the game features less bonus content than that of the PS1 version. They have a “toy mode” which I assume is to be similar to the toy gallery of the PS1 version, but rather than have a gallery of toy images, they let you look at the 3D models of the game characters in 360 degrees. This version also hosts a handful of mini-games, but they aren’t anything that will keep you playing for hours on end.

It does, however, feature a “Kid Mode” that is entertaining to say the least. The characters all appear as super-deformed, meaning they have tiny bodies and big heads, and the voices have been tweaked to be high pitched. It can offer a few laughs, but the gameplay is ultimately the same as the standard arcade and versus modes.

Overall, the game is okay, but I think the PlayStation One version was a stronger game. This one, however, was originally a Blockbuster exclusive title, so it wasn’t actually purchasable at the time of its release. However, nowadays you can find it on eBay and in collector shops for around seven to ten dollars. So, if you want a classic Transformers title, or a cheap exclusive that once was not purchasable, then it’s not an expensive endeavor, but it certainly won’t be the best game you’ve ever played.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Video Game Review: Beast Wars Transmetals PS1

REVIEW: Transformers: Beast Wars; Transmetals for PlayStation One
by: TriPredRavage
The story goes that in season three of the television show, When Megatron is captured, he sends a message back in time to himself just before the season finale events of season one. As a result, events happen differently with Rhinox, Waspinator, and Airazor all becoming Transmetal, and Terrorsaur also surviving to become Transmetal as well. And with that, the Beast Wars rage on.

This brings us to the game. Once again, the player may choose which faction to play as, and each team once again has their own storyline. Each team has four playable characters for the story mode.

Playable Maximals include: Optimus Primal, Cheetor, Rattrap, and Silverbolt.
Playalbe Predacons include: Megatron, Tarantulus, Rampage, and Quickstrike.

The Maximal storyline begins with the Maximal base being attacked by the Predacons. Optimus decides that this is a good opportunity to reclaim the Golden Disc, and the Maximals then dispatch to fight against the waves of Predacons. Once the Maximals push the Predacons back to their base, a battle against Megatron ensues. Once defeated, Megatron reveals that the Predacons have successfully infiltrated the Maximal base in their absence. Megatron then escapes and the Maximals realize they need to get back to the Axalon.

The Predacon storyline begins with the Predacons discussing their latest plans to conquer the Maximals. After some bickering, they dispatch. Once the Predacons have defeated the waves of Maximals and have successfully defeated the final opponent, Optimus Primal, the Predacons are shown standing around him demanding he surrenders. Rhinox then activates Sentinel’s Auto-Guns and the Predacons flee defeated.

Not exactly ground-breaking storytelling, but enjoyable enough in its own right.

This game seemed to take everything that was wrong with the last one and then decided to do it right. The game featured a majority of the show voice actors to play their characters, with the only voice actors not returning as far as the story was concerned being Rhinox, Quickstrike, and Blackarachnia.

This game featured four secret characters to be unlocked in versus mode.

Secret Maximals include: Non-Transmetal Tigatron and Botcon Exclusive Windrazor
Secret Predacons include: Transmetal II Blackarachnia and Ravage.

While these characters are merely simple clones of Cheetor (Tigatron and Ravage), Silverbolt (Windrazor), and Tarantulus (Blackaracnia), it was still nice to see them join the fray. I would have liked to have seen Rhinox, Waspinator, Terrorsaur, and Airazor in this game, seeing as Tigatron, Silverbolt, Quickstrike, and Windrazor aren’t even Transmetals, but like I said, it was still nice to see their inclusion.

Gameplay-wise, the game is your basic fighter. You have two characters duke it out in a 3D field with certain natural hazards to add a little chaos to the mix. All characters play the same way with the only variations occurring in the characters ultimate techniques. The only other true variety is that Quickstrike and Rattrap have the unique ability to burrow underground.

The game also made interesting use of the “second player” color schemes giving Cheetor his red Fox Kids exclusive figure colors, and Rattrap his blue Wal-Mart exclusive colors that later became known as Transmetal Packrat. Megatron also features a primarily purple second color scheme that seems to be inspired by his non-Transmetal appearance.

The game features a ton of bonus material: from picture and cinematic viewers, to music track players. There are pictures of the cinematic versions of the characters that let you get good looks at all the little details of the characters. There is also a gallery of toy images included that strangely enough includes the Japanese exclusive Transmetal Ravage figure (X-9 Jaguar), which was how I first found out about the figure’s existence.

Like I said, this game seemed to take everything that was wrong with the first Beast Wars game and fix them. It then went ahead and turned the game into a fighter rather than a platformer. While it's certainly not the best game I’ve ever played, I still thoroughly enjoyed this game. If you are considering looking into it on eBay, I’d recommend it as it is just a fun game to play.

If you are looking for a declaration like last time where I admit something about Transformers: Animated’s game being better than this, you’re in the wrong place. Not because it isn’t necessarily true, but because the games are completely different genres, I can’t really say which is better. I could admit TFA’s greatness over the first Beast Wars game because they are both platformers, but in this case, I say they both do their series justice.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Transformers: Beast Wars PS1/PC Review

REVIEW: Transformers: Beast Warsby: TriPredRavage
In what is probably the worst adaptation of a show to videogame conversion I have ever seen, we have Transformers: Beast Wars for the PlayStation and PC. The game starts up with an opening cinematic featuring clips from season one of the Beast Wars TV show which does nothing to outline the events of anything other than “the robots fight.” No back-story, no explanations, nothing.

You begin the game and for what I believe is the first time in Transformers Videogame history, you could choose your faction to play as. Each team starts with four playable characters, with a fifth unlockable as you play through. A sixth character is also available, but only for flight missions to rescue a “captured” character.

Playable Maximals include: Optimus Primal, Cheetor, Rhinox, Dinobot, and Rattrap.
Flight Mission Maximals include: Optimus Primal and Airazor.

Playable Predacons include; Megatron, Scorponok, Tarantulus, Inferno, and Blackarachnia.
Flight Mission Predacons include: Inferno and Terrorsaur.

The story mode consists of several zones with three parts to each zone. The third part features a boss fight against a show character. A chunk of back-story is provided before each zone part and that’s about the most of it. Throughout the individual parts, you fight random creatures (such as slugs, raptors, and monsters), as well as drones deployed by the other faction.

The final zone features a boss fight with the other faction’s team leader and once defeated, the game is completed. Another bout of show clips ensues where the team leader speaks over them, Optimus thanks his crew for assisting him in defeating the Predacons, Megatron talks about how he’s the best thing since sliced bread.

Now that the summary is out of the way, here comes the review.

Controlling the characters is pretty good with some minor flaws. Jumping from platform to platform is tricky and for the most part suicidal, but it has to be done to continue the game. Each character has different stats and it’s easy to find one that adjusts well to your play style. And that’s pretty much all there is good about the game. So here comes the bad…

To start things off, the TV show voice cast has been replaced in this game by some of the worst voice actors I have ever heard. I’d almost be willing to go so far as to bet that the voice actors were actually just people who worked around the office who made the game and decided to do the voices themselves. They did us the courtesy of attempting to imitate how the TV show characters’ voices were performed, but the end result is just painful.

The PlayStation version is incredibly fast paced, and I’m not talking the good kind of fast paced. The game is so fast that you can hear a shot go off and in the same instant you are hit by it. Then you are left scrambling to find what is shooting at you. The game features a lock‑on feature that is touchy to say the least. You must be facing directly at the opponent to be locked‑on; otherwise you are going to be plastered by enemy fire.

Level designs are complicated and confusing. They are also dark and gritty in what appears to be a precursor to videogames of today with everything being brown and grey. It’s easy to get lost amongst the ridiculous level designs.

In order to start a flight mission to rescue a captured character, you have to beat a level after collecting three macguffins. Problem is, you can’t die as you’ll have to start all over again. Also, when a character dies, they become captured as well, so get ready for a long haul.

The game also tried to incorporate the Energon fields of the show, but it did more than create an inconvenience. Refilling the Energon resistance bar is slow going and nearly impossible, so if you don’t just trek the levels in Beast Modes, you are pretty much screwed by the time you get to the boss fights.

The PC version of the game featured online multiplayer play, but I never got to try it as my computer was so slow that taking two steps forward could take the better part of ten minutes.

All in all, it’s a terrible game. My parents got me the PC version when I was about seven and I later purchased my PlayStation version for seven dollars on eBay. If you were considering on picking it up because you missed it, pass. It’s really not worth it unless you are absolutely diehard… like me…

People have been wanting me to admit that Transformers: Animated is better than Beast Wars was for a long time now. And while as far as the shows go, I still think Beast Wars is superior, I will wholeheartedly admit that the Transformers: Animated game for the Nintendo DS is far superior to this Beast Wars game.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Botcon 2009, part 2

We attended our first Botcon way back in the summer of 1996. Wow, how things have changed! Back then, we used to be surprised if anyone from Hasbro even attended. Nowadays, Hasbro and the Transformers marketing team obviously put a ton of time and financial resources into the event. Boasting a (probably) several 1000 square foot display booth with multiple, well-lit glass display shelves, HUGE cutouts of movie characters, a decked out kids play area complete with diorama and a whole lot of toys to play with! This year they even included a display with various toy versions of UNICRON! The Armada figure next to the priceless, unreleased, G1 original toy!

It's amazing to see what this convention has become. Another more recent development are the guests in attendance. It's no longer just a show for older/adult toy collectors with money to spend on very high priced collectibles. That can be found too, but walking down the isles you find young kids, parents and teenagers as well as older fans in their twenties and thirties. The videos below give you a glimpse!

The next video is a continuation of the show floor. More kids, parents, toy collectors having a blast! Watch carefully, in my quick walk through the Hasbro booth, you'll see the Supreme Class Devastator and Leader Class Jetfire toys from Revenge of the Fallen. You can also see the Activision Booth where a few a few dozen fans are playing (or waiting in line to play) the new Transformers video games: Stan Bush's "You've Got the Touch" on Guitar Hero and Revenge of the Fallen for the Wii, XBox 360, etc. At the end of the clip, see Transformers Brand Development Manager (I don't know if that's his official title, but it's something like that!) Aaron Archer giving an interview to a local TV station. Yes, by the way, this is the guy that the "Angry Archer" from Transformers Animated is named after. (He doesn't seem so angry to me! :)

Of particular interest to many fans (including me) was what Transformers team members had to say about the future of Transformers Animated. It seemed to me that they were choosing their words very carefully. I'm not sure if this is just because they didn't want to insight a riot of fan backlash or because they're considering other not-yet-finalized possibilities. What they did say is that Transformers Animated as a cartoon series is done. I know, that totally sucks. But the good news is: YES, at least they will release toys for which molds have already been completed.

Deluxe: Rodimus Prime, Arcee, Electrostatic Soundwave, Freeway Jazz, Fugitive Waspinator, Cybertron Mode Ratchet & Ironhide (WITH new molded head! yeah!)
Voyager: Goldfire Grimlock, Hydrodive Bumblebee, and Blackout! We didn't see the Blackout toy on display but were shown a photo of the Earth-mode helicopter during the Hasbro panel. Imagine an animated spin on the Bay-Move MH-53 helicopter.

Plus, the potential exists for the story to continue in comic form. So stay tuned!

Of course Hasbro's major focus was on Revenge of the Fallen and all those magnificent toys! It should come as no surprise to you that there was no shortage of fantastic new product to be ogled over! Jetfire was particularly fantastic. You will not believe how enormous the jet mode looks! It's unreal and looks extremely awesome from every angle. There was no sign or mention of the 'combined with Optimus' mode, but that didn't matter. The toy looked impressive enough as a stand alone figure, I completely forgot about it.

The Constructicon Devastator, Supreme Class figure looked quite impressive as well, although no way was it 2 feet tall. The central "Scavenger" figure was staggeringly large. Long Haul looked far too small for my liking. I had the chance to talk to one Hasbro insider about this toy. He told me that they certainly would have preferred to make the individual components transformable to their individual robot modes. But consider that each Constructicon is a triple changer, plus has to combine... The cost of such a toy that "does it all" would've been well over $200. As much as we would dig it personally, we have to consider that there just isn't enough market for a $200+ action figure! Especially in today's economic climate. Tell you what though, from what could be seen through glass, I thought it looked very detailed and sturdy for a figure so large. I can't wait to get a closer look.

Check out all these and more in the gallery below.

The last category of toys featured at the Hasbro booth were those sporting the Transformers "Universe" logo. A small gallery is included below. The Soundwave display looked fantastic. The green Universe Onslaught recolor figure is Hard Head, don't know the identity of the black jet.

And finally, below is a condensed (believe it or not!) version of my notes from the two Hasbro Panels that took place at Botcon. Some of what's below is from their own presentation, the rest are responses to the Q&A which took place immediately following.

Greg Lombardo began their presentation by thanking the fans, "Even in today’s economy, there is such a huge turnout, Transformers fans come through thick and thin!" Presenters included:
Greg Lombardo, senior marketing director for Transformers
Aarong Archer senior design director, 8th botcon
Eric Siebenaller, senior toy designer, worked on animated
Bill Rawley, senior parts designer
Joe Kai, parts designer
Forest Lee, writes stories and character bios
Mike Ballog ...

Store Exclusives
- Six inch titanium OP and Thrust and Hot Zone (Hot spot)
- Commemorative Insecticons TRU exclusives trying reissues only at TRU
- Commemorative Perceptor due to his popularity in TFA
- Masterpiece Skywarp, differentiated from the Takara version, very G1 style.
- Voyager Fallen on fire look at Target. Black and red. Looks great.

Transformers Animated. As as a cartoon on Cartoon Network, the series is done. But all toys on display at the booth will find their way to market. Don't know exactly when or where yet but, "We will make every effort to release these toys."

- Deluxe Soundwave, based on Human Error color schemes.
- Deluxe Arcee this is atoy I (Eric Seibenaler) am as excited to see as the fans. A long time coming. Ever since the reintroduction of the character in Energon, we finally can do it right and close to G1 thanks to Derrick Wyatt for helping me to visualize this.
- Rodimus Minor
- Cybertronian Ratchet cool design of is younger days…
- Cybertroni deluxe Ironhide different head sculpt. Just like show!
- Fugative Waspinator. Unfortunately no new heaed sculpt for budget reasons but their is a story about he has electro camouflage is malfunctioning!
- Goldfire Grimlock, great character, a nice color scheme forest came up with
- Hydrodive Bumblebee. Bumblebee does remove from scuba back
- Voyager Blackout Earth mode, not alien mode wanted him to have a helicopter
- Wingblad Optimus: repaint of deluxe scale optimus with a LOT of new molded armament>> Great news here is that the armor also attaches to the Voyager Optimus!
- Voyager Thundercracker, yeah!

2010 ROTF sneak peak… Early concepts for 2010
- (ROTF) Wheelie and Soundwave
- Brakedown: sportscar lot of details, G1 colors, looked fantastic!
- Skystalker: dronde jet in the film, made it its own character
- Scattorshot: Movie (off screen) scout
- Movie Lockdown! (Crowd goes wild!) Wow imagine movie aesthetic on animated design. True to character, looks great.
- movie Ratchet: Still a hummer, very detailed design
- Deluxe Dirge: new mold, movie cone head. Looks like a harrier jet.
- Jungle attack Ironhide, more than a redeco, new bumper that turns into a weapon and a lot of retooling w/ sniper rifle and machine gun, combine to bigger more awesome weapon
- Voyager Bludgeon green tank all new mold. Extremely cool, Bill Rawley: "He’s one of my favorites. Very cool mech alive features. Opens out over shouler knife comes out..."
Human Alliance
- Barricade with Frenzy. Frenzy folds into cube shape, also very nice more movie accurate.

* Expanding movie line into spring, like allspark power, what you know as Universe.
* IDW drift, come back tomorrow for that answer! (Sounds like yes, though we never got that answer as Hasbro panel was cut short w/ Tyrese Gibson on day 2!)
* We cannot get into details, but you saw joing venture with Discovery channel. There will be an expectation that there will be a new Transformers TV series on this network. All the lessons learned from the production of Animated and Universe will be applied to next, new project. TFA has set the new standard for what we are going to live up to and exceed.

*No immediate plans to do more G1 Robot heroes.

* Animated: Specific characters that were slated that didn’t get done that you wanted to do? I (Eric) wanted to do Omega Supreme. Various figures that I wanted to do, that didn’t pan out for many reasons. Constructicons as well.

Why Supreme movie Constructicons have no individual modes?
* We wanted to make the best looking Devastator and best looking individual robot modes.

* If we were to do more TFA characters, they could potentially be sold in Universe packaging.

Do the Arcee bikes combine?
A: We designed them so the bikes combine, but I don’t don’t think they combine in the movie anymore, but our toys do.

Are you working to reduce the number of wire ties?
A: we’re looking at a lot of different options. There is a HUGE move in packaging to make our products *MORE GREEN!* Yes, less twist ties and much more environmentally friendly.

* Legends Constructions, yes will be released in the U.S.

* Leader Class Blackout?
We have plans for a leader class in fall of 2010, but it’s not blackout.
>> Saw pictures of grey model of Leader Class Starscream on day 2. Looked phenomenal. Siebenaller said, it's his favorite movie toy ever made.

* Springer is not in the movie, no more versions other than Robot Heroes and Legends toys you know of.

* Still no plans for the 6” titanium Cosmos or any further 6" Titanium toys.

* Shadowblad Megatron. We didn’t want him to be Galvatron. Color was inspired by the colors seen in the pilot movie. Black with a lot of purple backlighting…

Q: Any more CGI animated they were always real to me?
* That was done as a test, that brought that style ane we wanted to see what it looked like. Not originally done to be publically shared. There will be no more of them. It was done as an internal test.

Q: ~About GIJoe Resolute and if we could see a similar thing for Transformers?
A: As far as resolute. GIJoe is in a much different place than Transformers. From a story. It was a way to reengage fans and reintroduce characters. Not necessary for Transformers already known.

* Yes, the twins are Skids and Mudflap. It’s a plotpoint in the movie. At first glance we thought, we would never do this (Ice cream truck)! But the more we saw them and learned their place in the story, we thought: It was so corny we just had to do it.

* We heard that Megatron … The voyager megatron is the best place to find remnants of the flying tank megatron that won’t make it into the film. We (Hasbro) are glad it’s not in the film. Seeing Megatron flying awkwardly as a half flying tank. Not so cool to us.

Q: Will there be toys of all individual Constructicon characters?
A: Nope, (~not necessary)

A special surprise, Hasbro panel day 2 suddenly turned into Tyrese Gibson panel!!!!
... more on this to come!

Thank you for your time to read through all this awesomeness! If you haven't done so already, check out our Botcon 2009 report part 1... Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Hasbro Q&A 06/04/09, Question 1:
In a previous Q&A, you told us that Rodimus Prime would still get the Transformers Animated toy treatment. We are wondering if you could expand on your plans for Transformers Animated toys through 2009 and 10. Are you still going to produce and sell toys like Animated Arcee, Electrostatic Soundwave, Rodimus Prime, Blackout and that underwater Bumblebee toy (and others)? When might fans expect to see them in stores?

Hasbro, Response 1:
There are several unreleased Animated figures that have been shown at various events or in publications over the past few months. We realize there is a lot of excitement surrounding these characters and will try to bring as many to market as possible over the next year, either as part of the existing mainline assortments or as exclusives. We cannot offer details as to where or when, but they will find their way out., Question 2:
We cannot wait for Revenge of the Fallen! Are there any characters that will appear in the film that have not yet leaked onto the internet? And if so who are they!? (Like Wheeljack for instance?) As an addendum to this question, any chance you could you provide us some photos before they show up on some random chinese auction website?

Hasbro, Response 2:
We have to say that we certainly share your frustration with the constant leaks!

With that said, you will just have to stay tuned to see if there are anymore characters that are announced. We have to keep some secrets in the vault!, Question 3:
According to the press release regarding the development of a new television network; a collaboration between Hasbro and Discovery Communications: "Creative work will start in the next few months beginning with early stage development for properties including ...TRANSFORMERS... The creative team will have the capability to produce animated, live-action, and game show programming as well as content designed for digital and mobile extensions."

This press release raises dozens of questions for us! Please select one question from those below that you are most willing to answer:

- In general terms, what does this mean for the future of Transformers?
- Any possibility that TF Animated would continue into season 4 on this network?
- What is the soonest that a new Transformers television show could premiere?
- Should fans be expecting another revamp of the franchise fiction?
- Are you considering English dubs of Japanese series such as Headmasters, Victory, Beast Wars II or Neo on this new television network?

Hasbro, Response 3:
With the recent announcement of the Hasbro and Discovery Kids joint venture there will likely be great opportunities for new Transformers animation. Unfortunately, it is a little bit too early to make any announcement on what this may or may not be.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Botcon 2009, pt 1

Highlights of this year's Botcon were, for us, more about the experience and events than any specific news revelations unveiled by Hasbro or other convention guests. We had such a blast, our heads are still spinning trying to process it all! Below is a video from Thursday at the convention center, the night before the the sales floor opened.

All things considered, we thought the lines moved in a very orderly and efficient fashion as compared with previous years, even with the much increased attendance.

The first gallery (below) features the "Sights of Botcon." It's an assortment of many of the things we saw throughout the weekend. I'll try to give you a brief rundown of what's included. To the right, that's me next to Tyrese "Left Cheek!" Gibson, who made a surprise appearance at the end of the second Hasbro panel. Other treats of the weekend included the Botcon Exclusives, the "Animating Animated" panel with Matt Youngberg (Producer), Derrick Wyatt (art director) and Marty Isenberg Transformers Animated lead writer and editor. Fans enjoyed a panel by the Transformers movie writers Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, that's them on the right talking to Animated writer Marty Isenberg, following their autograph session. Also seen were panels by Stan (You've got the Touch!) Bush and Vince DiCola (TFTM musical score), Greg Berger (G1 Grimlock) and Michael McConnie (G1 Tracks and Cosmos), Hasbro and the G1 cartoon series writers panel. Shown here the Generation One writers panel.

The video below is a clip from the G1 writers panel: (from left to right) Flint Dille (TFTM... Writer), Paul Davids (Cosmic Rust...), David Wise (Key to Vector Sigma...) and Bryce Malek (editor) each take their turns answering questions from one fan: How they kept straight all the different things going on to "fit into continuity." He also asked about their most and least favorite characters and if any Transformer's personalities were based on personal friends.

Unfortunately, this clip ended just before Flint Dille stated how the new Autobot characters were based on the '85 Bears Mike McMahon, Mike Singletary, etc! Too funny.

Although photographs from the Transformers Movie writers panel Alex Kurtzman and Robert Orci, were hard to come by, I did take notes of the highlights, which you can read below. Stay tuned the report from Botcon 2009, Part 2 is coming up next!

Orci/Kurtzman: Started panel with discussion of how hard they worked on ROTF the second writer's strike was done. They locked themselves in a hotel room to write, write, write... Shooting began 4 months to the day after the strike ended.

Thanks to the fans for involvement! Still amazed at the level of fan enthusiasm.

Question about differences between writing Transformers versus Star Trek:
Star Trek and Transformers are very different franchises. Signature characters in transformers are millon dollar a minute CGI creations. Whereas Kirk and spok are the best actors in their price range! :) What do we like writing better? I don't know, we'll see when we do the third (Transformers) film and have Megatron vs. the Enterprise! We'll see who wins!

Talking about Shia's accident, it wasn't his fault. Media didn't emphasize that the car that struck him ran a red light before colliding with him. The fact that he was able to continue filming was amazing. When you watch the moive, especially the third act, notice he's doing these stunts with a seriously smashed up hand. The guy's a trooper!

Q: about deciding about new characters for ROTF
A: 3 ways new characters decided upon for the film
1.) carry over from first movie: Ravage, Soundwave, Arcee
2.) Michael Bay had ideas, wanted new character personalities to fit story needs.
3.) Hasbro suggested character personas that they brought in.

Q: Dinobots in the third one?
A: Maybe

Alex talked about working with Hasbro. a constant flow of creative energy and back and forth dialog. Never had anything forced upon them. Shown options, what can be done. It was like being shown an enormous menu and getting to choosing exactly and as many characters as best suited the story of ROTF.

Q: How do you react to blog criticism?
A: They had post production meetings. Lets talk about critiques. Was their too much humor, did we not spend enough time on the robots? etc

Many lessons learned from the first movie, what worked, what didn't...Now that we have seen what the geniuses at ILM can do, push the envelope... Alex motioned to Bob Orci and said, he handles criticism better than I do. Probably because often time, fans were right with their critique.

Q: is the big guy with the wheel Demolisher or Scavenger?
Greg Lombardo: I know why you're asking, but we cannot say until you see the film there is a reason why he has two names.

Q: What are the chances of seeing Unicron?
A: (Bob Orci) I think there is a good chance of that. Especially if you fans raise a stink!

Q: About deciding upon Soundwave's alternate mode
A: He was tricky, we look at Humvee with giant speakers... Ultimately, his form was decided upon by knowing he has to do with sound and the transmission of communications stuff...

Q: Will we ever see the Autobot Matrix of Leadership in the live movies?
A: That is a very good question. thank you for asking. Next question! :Crowd erupts with applause and lgughter.

Q: About selling the concept of "female" Transformers.
A: It took no "selling" to the studio or Bay. No explanation of femaleness of robots needed or given. They just are.

Q: About silver Corvette being Sideswipe and why this car selection.
A: If you know Michael, you know he loves cars. He actually considered keeping Sideswipe a Lambrogini, seeing as how he has 2! (Crowd laughter!) But we actually get very little say as to car selection and this is the magnificent beauty that he chose. We took aspects of his personality and put it in that phenomenal looking car.

Q: About Skids an Mudflap:
A: About them, Ice craem truck we can't reveal too much about why he is the form that he is, much is dictated by what Michael Bay thinks is funny. You'll learn more about why he has this form in the story of the movie.

Q: Another questions about Unicron in TF3
A: Kurtzman asked why? Seriously, why do you want to see him?
A: Fan responded with awesomeness of scale, a planet transformer and Unicron's ultimate place within the mythology of Transformers.

Q: Why do Transformers mostly turn into humanoid form?
A: It turns out to be a result of co-evolution to similar forms in silicon based life forms

Q: Will there be a grand explanation of the nature or development of combiners?
A: Michael wanted, well, that is if there are combiners in ROTF! :) He wanted to sell it on seeing it, without the build-up. Make it make sense story-wise without having to have a long winded explanation. It's another logical fit, getting back to the evolution of silicon based life forms. You want the real explanation? Well, it all started in the techno-swamps near the Taurus states of Praxus... Crowd applause and laughter!

Q: Fifth vote for Unicron in TF3! Then fan asked, studio was not originally into the idea of robots talking... did that influence the decision to keep Bumblebee from talking?
A: No, there were a number of things that informed that. 1) ET like interaction... 2) We knew that Prime was coming in the middle of the movie, and the first first robot you hear speak needs to be Prime.

Q: Is the helicopter Decepticon seen in the trailer Grindor or Blackout?
A: That's a spoiler...Not comfortable talking about that until you're seen the movie.


And that wraps up the highlights of the Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman panel. Stay tuned, Part 2 of's report from Botcon 2009 is coming up soon!