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Transformers Animated: The Game

Score: 82%
ESRB: Everyone 10+
Publisher: Activision
Developer: Artificial Mind and Movement
Media: Cartridge/1
Players: 1
Genre: Action

Graphics & Sound:

Say what you want about the hyper-anime style used the in Transformers' latest cartoon adventures, but it works well for their latest video game. The graphics engine works for the DS and produces smooth, clean visuals that run without much of a hitch. The only major visual downside are the driving areas, which are rather barren. However, the deficiency can be taken in one of two ways; either you hate the lack of visuals or realize that it matches the look of the show. Either way, there isn't much to look at.

Sound is passable, though you won't miss much if you decide to kill the volume. Aside from the new theme song (which I really dig), the major highlight is the amount of spoken dialogue that takes place between levels. Considering the system, the dialogue is clear and understandable.


Transformers Animated: The Game is a fairly typical licensed game as far as story is concerned, but the gameplay is anything but. The Allspark, a Cybertronian artifact, has been split into three parts, setting the Autobots on a quest to unite the pieces and keep it out of Decepticon hands.

Generally the game is fun, but only when it sticks to Lost Vikings-style gameplay segments. During these levels, you control three Autobots - Optimus Prime, Bumblebee and Bulkhead - and use their unique abilities to solve puzzles as you navigate levels. Optimus can use his axe to hit switches, Bumblebee can jump and Bulkhead is good at smashing things. Gameplay is similar to The Lost Vikings or recent LEGO games; you can switch between players at any time and open paths for the other characters. One of the hitches to the gameplay is that your partners don't automatically follow you around; it works for the style of gameplay the game is employing, though it is also annoying and a bit tedious.

Surprisingly, the vehicle levels - you know, when the Transformers actually transform - feel out of place. Driving levels are short, on-rails shooters where you dodge cars and occasionally Transform to attack enemies. Though action-packed (at least when compared to the other levels), they are repetitive and quickly wear out their welcome.


If anything, Transformers Animated: The Game is aware of its audience. Levels are typically short (usually 10 - 15 mins.) and fairly straightforward. However, the actual level design is counter-intuitive in some areas. They're confusing, especially when you have bots scattered to all four corners of the map. Goals are usually obvious, but it is a pain to keep track of where your bots are. The simple solution would have been a better in-game map, but this isn't the case.

Other than a few confusing levels, gameplay isn't overly difficult - at least when you consider the target audience. Older players will likely blow through levels with ease, while younger players may have a slightly more difficult time. There's little that can be done about problems that arise from level design, but combat is balanced out by the presence of Ratchet, who can repair damaged bots.

Game Mechanics:

All of the action takes place on the bottom screen while important information, like health, is displayed on the top screen. By placing everything on the bottom screen, A2M was able to make extensive use of the touch screen. All three character abilities are activated by the touch screen. For instance, when playing as Optimus, you can draw a path for his axe to take when it is thrown. Tapping on enemies while playing as Bumblebee shocks them. This same mechanic shows up in the on-rails driving areas while attacking enemies.

The touch screen uses are great, though you'll also have to use the D-pad and buttons when controlling your bots, which can become a bit cumbersome. You always have to have the stylus out, forcing you to devise a way to hold it and use the buttons. I ended up figuring out a rather awkward way of holding it in my fingers, but it wasn't the most comfortable or efficient of methods.

Although there are few hitches, Transformers Animated: The Game is an enjoyable experience for younger players who also happen to be big Transformers fans. Gameplay is slightly more thought-intensive than the typical shooter and the chance to control their favorite characters is a real treat.

-Starscream, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ricky Tucker

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