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.

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