IGN Review of Transformers: Animated
I have no problem going on record to say that this generation of Transformers has absolutely turned my stomach. The contrast between this version's happy, stylized series over past franchises (Beast Wars is still my personal favorite) is just too extreme to swallow. But with that said, I have to also say that the Activision game for the Nintendo DS based upon the Transformers Animated cartoons is a real treat to play. It isn't wildly creative or original, it's just a well-developed Lost Vikings clone that keeps in mind its target audience: Transformers Animated fans. I just wish the "transforming" part didn't feel so separate from the rest of the experience.
Transformers Animated: The Game puts players in control of three different Autobot transforming robots: Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, and Bulkhead, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. The developers of the game, A2M, have created a series of side-scrolling challenges where you'll have to make your way through factory locations by utilizing each character's capabilities together. Bumblebee can jump, Optimus Prime can grapple up and down from girder-like surfaces, and Bulkhead can simply smash down specific walls and shove crates around. Each of these character's capabilities comes into play in each of the layouts, and you'll need to constantly swap back and forth between the trio (and sometimes only two, depending on how far into the game you get) to get everyone to the exit.
As challenging as these side-scrolling platforming puzzles can get, it's unfortunate that the big deal about Transformers – you know, transforming from robot to car and back again – feels a bit tacked on, appearing in rushed, boring, interstitial events that come off completely disjointed from the rest of the game. Luckily these levels are few and far between – most of the focus is on the far superior platformer.
A2M puts its side-scrolling 3D engine to use for Transformers: Animated – you know, the one that they used for games like Kim Possible, The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, Scooby Doo, Teen Titans…and the list goes on. The last Transformers game -- Vicarious Visions' "open world" adventure based on the movie --went a little too ambitious with its design and the engine just couldn't keep up with all the things the designers offered the players to do. The A2M design is admittedly much more restrictive but the restrictions turn Transformers Animated into a much tighter and more enjoyable experience, and it doesn't look half bad either. There are a few awkward elements in this game – requiring the gamer to poke at the touch-screen with the stylus while also using both D-pad and buttons to control your characters can get a little cumbersome.
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