For as obvious as the license would be in application to video gaming, there’s simply no real “good” Transformers games.

One of the few exceptions is Atari’s Transformers title on the Playstation 2 some years back, and the new War for Cybertron looks promising, though that’s more on High Moon Studio’s credentials than Activision’s predilection for taking great franchises and grinding them into oblivion. But for all of the games released, you would think someone could get the concept right.

I’m not a huge Transformers fan, per se. I really enjoyed the old ’80’s show, and yes, I got teary eyed at Optimus Prime’s fate in the original movie (not those horrible Michael Bay abominations that barely pass for cinema) when I was a kid. But even in light of my lack of major fandom, I always wanted a game that could do the concept of robots turning into vehicles justice. How could that not make for great action gaming?

Imagine my surprise when I played an iPhone game based on the old ‘bots from my youth.

While not an action game, it’s a surprisingly competent RTS game. The game itself is filled with authentic musical cues and transformation noises, the vehicle modes do play an important role in the game with appropriate bonuses, the characters are recognizable, and have bios complete with their tech specs and mottos…. Seriously? Someone finally figured out after 25+ years that making a Transformers game based off what is probably the most iconic iterations of the characters might actually be a good idea? And it doesn’t suck?

Honestly, I’m just as surprised as you are.

I don’t buy a lot of games for my iPhone. I have a DS and PSP for my on the go gaming, but I don’t always want to lug my portables around all the time. For that reason, it takes something notable for me to actually want to download it for my phone. But the reviews were positive, and the graphics looked nice, so at a $5 price point, I figured “Why not”?

There are a few nice extras that I didn’t mention. When Autobot goes against Decepticon, there is a nicely done animated battle sequence that doesn’t look out of place from the old series. Characters give obvious bonuses, such as Optimus Prime improving troop morale when he’s around, and Ratchet fixing his allies. It has a surprisingly well-animated introduction, and the plotline is not far removed from the stories of the original show. Granted, the characters on the battlefield don’t animate when they walk, and there a few interface issues (I think it’s more related to my finger finding the right touch zone than anything), but the overall package is impressive, and the game would not be out of place to find a home on one of the console or portable downloadable services.

Worth a look if you like RTS games, games that actually use a license in a sensible manner, or just old-school Transformers in general.

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