Transformers: Forged to Fight Review

The Transformers: Forged to Fight mobile game just came out in the U.S. for iOS and Android. It’s a fighting game that includes characters from many different generations of the Transformers franchise. That means you can have G1 Optimus Prime fight the live action Micheal Bay movie, Optimus Prime. Alternatively, you could have fan-created Windblade from the IDW comics take on Beast Wars Rhinox.

Developed by Kabam, who also made a very popular Marvel Comics fighting game called Contest of Champions. Transformers: Forged to Fight uses the same fighting game engine as Contest of Champions, but adds a 3D experience to the game by giving the characters the ability to sidestep.

STORY

The idea behind Transformers: Forged To Fight is that Transformers from every single aspect of the franchise’s history are being drawn into battle by an unknown enemy. You’re going to see characters from the original 1980s generation, Beast Wars, The Michael Bayverse live action movies, and the IDW comics fighting each other in one-on-one battles.

The story of the game comes to you by way of single-player chapters. Marissa Fairborn is the human character who acts as your battle commander.

At each stage, you are on a map that can have multiple branching paths. It allows you as the player to take an easier route or a harder one. Each with its own varying levels of rewards.

MULTIPLAYER

With multiplayer comes base management. Along with harvesting resources, you’ll be able to assign idle Transformers to guard against other players attacking your base. You’ll also be able to form an alliance with your friends. If you join in on alliance battles you stand to get larger rewards than going at it solo.

CONCLUSION

One of the biggest reasons to play Transformers: Forged To Fight, is the ability to collect so many Transformers from many different generations of the franchise. This is something you haven’t been able to do before in thirty plus years Transformers games. With so many different characters you’ll get some unique animations. Everything from Transforming, shooting, and special moves.

As far as mobile fighting games go this is one of the best ones I’ve played. It’s fun and easy enough to learn. Though I do wish I could find a list of moves.

Like nearly every other mobile game available, this one is freemium. You’re going to get asked a lot to buy energy, crystals, shields, repair kids, etc at every opportunity. Personally, I would rather spend twenty bucks up front to have a fully unlocked game.

 

YOSHICAST #006: Batman V Superman Review

Thanks for checking out episode #006 of the YOSHICAST! If you want to comment on what you’ve heard on this episode please send an e-mail, leave a comment, Facebook me, or call me up and leave a voice mail. I’d love to hear from you. (360) 610-7047.

YoshiCast_K_B_Y_BvS

On this episode of the YoshiCast we review Batman Vs. Superman. Yoshi, along with Bo, Kathleen, and Isaac drive around Juneau, Alaska discussing the highs and lows of DC’s latest superhero block buster effort.

Show Notes:

  • Listen. Just listen.

The Transformers: Battle to Save The Earth – The David Crane Interview

David Crane, video gaming industry’s pioneer. The man behind such classic titles as Pitfall, Ghostbusters, A Boy and His Blob, and Amazing Tennis. Mr. Crane is also the man behind ‘The Transformers: Battle to Save Earth’. A game for the Commodore 64.

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The Transformers: Battle to Save The Earth, is an action role-playing game released by Activision in 1986. As the Autobots, players fight the Decepticons in an attempt to stop them from stealing Earth’s resources. At the end of the game the winner is decided by which side, Autobot or Decepticons, has the most resource points. A medal is awarded to the player depending on their performance.

My personal copy of The Transformers: Battle To Save The Earth.
My personal copy of The Transformers: Battle to Save The Earth.

I contacted Mr. Crane and asked him a few questions about the Transformers video game. He was very generous with his time. His answers are amazing when you read about all the tricks and technologies he had to implement or invent to complete the project.

DavidCraneCurrent
David Crane

Question: Did you (or Activision), seek out the Transformers property or did Hasrbo come to you?

I was not involved in the initial discussions about the Transformer license – we had a department for that – so I wouldn’t know who initiated contact.  What did happen at Activision, however, is that when a possible license was available, the game designers were consulted to determine our interest in making a game based on that property.  If we didn’t think a license would add value to a game (or vice versa), we wouldn’t recommend the deal.

David Crane (1983)
David Crane (1983)

Question: What was it like working with Hasrbo on the Transformers game?

They were pretty hands-off, which is the way a game designer likes it.  The toy products were available off the shelf for artistic review, and we also had a couple of animated feature films to draw upon.

Question: How much say did you have on the story of the game?

I personally did not have to interface with Hasbro, and I created the story of the game from scratch.  So either they didn’t need story control, or they liked my story enough that comments never filtered down to me from the licensing department.

David Crane (1979)
David Crane (1979)

Question: Where you given any source materials to work from?

I don’t recall any special, private source materials that weren’t available publicly, such as the toys and films.  That said, licensors always provide “camera ready art” of a product’s logos and such.  Those things would have been given directly to the game’s artist, Hilary Mills.

Question: How long did it take to create the Transformers game?

Transformers was a typical C-64 development project, taking about a year to produce.

Question: Something that sticks out to me is that the game features both Rodimus Prime and Hot Rod. Essentially this is two versions of the same character. Do you recall the reasoning why the game was developed to show this character in both versions at the same time? 

I am not about to contradict you, since I haven’t looked at the game in 30 years, but I remember putting both Optimus Prime and Hotrod in the game.  I don’t think I have ever heard of Rodimus Prime (although it is possible that the manual writers mixed up some of the names).

Question: Do you have any stories during the development of the Transformers that sick out?

Transformers_Battle_To_Save_Earth_FloppyfrontStating the obvious, what was cool about the Transformers toys was that they could transform from a car to a robot using hinges and gears.  These days, a video game console renders game characters three-dimensionally, and can thus duplicate those transformations easily.  The C-64 had a 2D display and generally had to pre-render every sprite image.  Using a pre-rendered method to show, for example, a 16-step transformation would require all of the Commodore’s memory to store 16 full, large sprite images.

I wanted to make the Transformer characters HUGE (for the day), taking up half the screen height.  A C-64 disk couldn’t hold 16 transformations of every Transformer in the game.  So to make it happen I had to invent a way.  I had the artist create a sheet of elements which, if properly superimposed, would create the illusion of rotating, sliding parts to transform from car to robot.  I then created a drawing language similar to Postscript that could draw each element from a small data file.

When a Transformer was about to transform, I spawned a hidden screen buffer in the C-64 RAM and drew the “element sheet” Postscript-like into the RAM from one compressed data table.  From another table I composited a number of the drawn elements into predetermined positions.  This table would say “Take N rows and M columns of pixels starting at X,Y in the element sheet, and draw them to the visible screen at X1, Y1.  Repeat that process for a number of the elements to composite together each of the interim transformations that the Transformer went through.  The benefit was that 16 transformations only took up one “screen” of memory.  It was a masterpiece of art and programming.

Most modern mobile gaming platforms use this element sheet innovation, now called a “Sprite Sheet.”

Question: I read on your Reddit – Ask Me Anything interview that the Transformers: Battle to Save The Earth, you created “Digitized Speech” for the Commodore 64 so that the player could hear the entire Transformers history. Is the audio we hear here from an actual voice actor or is it 100% digital? If it was a voice actor, is he someone recognizable?

Transformers_Battle_To_Save_Earth_BackOne of the animated Transformers films or TV shows had a narrated story about how these intelligent transforming beings came to be.  The intro that you hear if you play the flip side of the C-64 diskette is the audio track from this intro, recorded by a professional announcer.  In the video version, there were cartoon animations accompanying the story.  The C-64 could never have accomplished that, so the artist created a slide show from the video version.

Transformers: The Battle To Save The EarthTO make the C-64 do this, (yet another innovation that had never been done on that platform), I had to first digitize the voice over in a form that the C-64 could produce.  (That was 4 bits per sample, although I don’t recall the sample rate.)  Then I had to write a completely new disk driver, replacing both the driver in the C-64 and downloading a new driver to the 1541 disk drive.  Commodore’s original disk driver was too slow to use for this – I recall my version was 20 times faster than the original.

Using this much improved disk driver I was able to download a full screen slide show image (during the silence between sentences), and then download data quickly enough to play the audio voice over while the related slide was displayed.  All of that effort went into the content on the back side of the disk.  Effort like this, above and beyond the call of duty, was typical of Activision, and part of why our games were so successful.

Question: The art here is really quite amazing to look at. Was this all you? Where you given anything to work from?

The art was all Hilary Mills, one of the first professional video game artists.  The tools that she had to work with were like stone knives and bearskins.  Photoshop was not even a dream back then.  She did a remarkable job with tools that basically required drawing each individual colored pixel of an image

Question: The title screen of the game reads: Vol 1: The Battle to Save Earth. Was there talk that there would be multiple Transformers games produced by Activion?

It is unlikely that we would have entered  into a license agreement that didn’t allow for sequels.  Further games just didn’t happen.

I would like to thank Crane for his time. It was a sincere honor and pleasure to have had this opportunity to interview a legend and pioneer in the video game industry.

Related Links

Fight! Super Robot Lifeform Transformers: Mystery of Convoy

Do you know the worst Transformers game of all time? Arguably it’s Transformers: Mystery of Convoy. (The direct translation of the title is: Fight! Super Robot Lifeform Transformers: Mystery of Convoy.) This 1986 cartridge game was created exclusively for the Japanese Nintendo Famicom system. It’s a game so bad they misspelled “Convoy”. 

So why does this game exist? Because the 1986 the animated Transformers movie didn’t get released in Japan until 1990. Fans watching The Transformers cartoon went from season 2 to season 3 without a movie in between. This left a question with Japaneses Transformers fans. What the hell happened to Optimus Prime?

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To capitalize on this, Transformers: Mystery of Convoy, was made to answer that question. The game’s title “Convoy” being Optimus Prime and mystery of who killed him.

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Mystery of Convoy is a 2D platformer game consisting of 10 notoriously difficult levels. You play as Ultra Magnus, firing your short range gun at waves of enemies.

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I’ve read about people who’ve played this game. All express their frustration over how difficult it is. Sluggish controls, poor hit mechanics, and an insane number of enemies are just some of the reasons this game sucks.

Transformers_MysteryOfComvoy_Frontbottom

The game has a few secrets and four possible endings. Bumblebee is in the game to help you skip levels, but only if you kill special red enemy jets that appear at random. If you collect hidden letters to spell “RODIMUS” you get one of two good ending screens. The first telling you that Rodimus Prime will continue the investigation. Now you can play the whole game again as Rodimus Prime. If you beat the game as Rodimus Prime, you are shown the second good ending.

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The funny thing is, I can’t find anything about this game that actually answers the question of what happened to Opimtus Prime. Do you know? Leave a comment below.

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Useful Links

The Black Car

While visiting Seattle for the Penny Arcade Expo (PAX), my buddy, Lyle, turned me on to a service called Uber. Lyle had the Uber application on his iPhone and allowed him to get us a ride anywhere we needed to go. It was pretty neat and from the moment I stepped into our ride I was impressed.

Uber App

The app for Uber uses GPS to identify your location and then shows you all the Uber cars that are available in your area. It even lets you know how long it will take for one to reach you. The app also allows the Uber driver where you are, so you don’t have to worry about giving out directions or figuring out what street corner you’re standing on. The app can even estimate the cost to get to your destination.

When you request to have a car come pick you up, the application will let you know when the driver has acknowledged your request and will let you know what kind of car is coming to get you. You will also get the name and picture of the driver. You can even keep the Uber map open on your phone and watch the driver make his way to you if you like.

All the Uber drivers drive black cars or SUVs and the drivers all wear suits. There cars are very clean and from my personal experience they are safe drivers.

It’s like a taxi service, but you are always picked up in style, and you never have to tip. The cost of the ride is automatically charged to your credit card. No fuss, no muss.

Join Me In A PodCast

podcast_logoSince it’s inception, I have always thought that doing a podcast would be a whole lot of fun. It turns out that it really is! Recently, a group of really nice guys I met online got together to start a Transformers podcast. I was asked to join them as they create this new show called TransMissions.

TransMissions is named after the letters sections of the original Transformers comics that Marvel published in the 80s. True to it’s name sake, TransMissions invites the listener to contact the show and ask questions, make suggestions and offer feedback.

The whole team over at TransMissions work on this project almost daily. Using social networking and online services, like Google Drive, we are able to prep each show, implement changes and updates to our website and just talk Transformers, because at our core we are all fans. I am truly shocked and amazed at how much has been accomplished in such a very short time.

Currently we are planning on releasing a new show every Tuesday. You can catch our latest show at the TransMissions’ website or on iTunes. I hope you will join us as we talk about all things related to Transformers news, toys, comics, shows, and more!

Pictures From IDW’s Transformers Contest

Youseph-Gudio-Runabout
Signed Guido Guidi Drawing of Runabout

Being a Transformers fan and living in Juneau, Alaska is not easy. For starters, Juneau does not have a single comic book store. The geography around here is such that you can’t simply drive to a neighboring town to find one either. This makes it very difficult for me to get my hands on fresh comics.

I have been able to strike a deal with a nice little comic book shop in Bellingham, Washington called The Comics Place. These guys have been kind enough to hold issues of IDW’s ‘Transformers: Regeneration One’ (and soon the new X-Files comic) and ship them to me.

IDW-boxRecently, a local group of artists calling themselves Alaska Robotics, opened up a graphic novel and art gallery shop in down town Juneau. A good portion of this store is dedicated to graphic novels from DC, Marvel, Image, and IDW. When they first opened up, I asked one of the shop owners if they would be able to carry the Transformers books that IDW Publishing had been putting out. Alaska Robotics was all to happy to oblige me. I now visit their downtown store every Saturday to pick up the latest Transformers books that have come in. This includes the US and UK Transformers Classics, The new Transformers: Regeneration One Volume 1 and several books from Transformers: The IDW Collections.

IDW-Box-Open

On the afternoon of Saturday, April 13th, I was going through my RSS feeds when I happened upon a post from Seibertron.com titled: IDW Limited Collection Contest plus bonus prize for Seibertron.com members. The post on Seibertron told me about a contest that IDW Limited was holding for Transformers fans on Twitter.

The IDW Limited Twitter account has just posted a surprise contest for the upcoming weekend. All you have to do to enter is take a photo of your Transformers collection (toys, comics, bed sheets, whatever you’ve got) and tweet it to their account, for a chance to win some free IDW Transformers goodies!

The post went on to say that if you win the contest and are already a member of Seibertron.com (I am) you will also win a hardcover copy of “The Art of Transformers” book.

Some Awesome 'Beast Wars The Gathering' comics. 1-4
Some Awesome ‘Beast Wars The Gathering’ comics. 1-4

As a big time Transformers fan, I just had to give this a shot. I took to twitter and searched up the hash tag #IDWLTD which the Seibertron post said to use with your photo submissions. Right away my twitter window filled up with posts from people who already had a day head start on me submitting pictures. I clicked on a few of the submitted pics to see what others had been submitting. What I saw were living rooms, bedrooms, bookshelves, closets, and tables just packed with Transformer collections of true fans. Collections that made my personal collection of Transformers seem small and insignificant. Still, I felt I had to try and enter this contest. I mean, whats the worst that could happen?

Right off the bat, I noticed one thing about the pictures I was seeing on twitter. No one was including themselves in any of the photos they where submitting. I figured that was something I could do that would be different and maybe eye catching to the folks behind IDW Limited.

Spotlight Megatron Comic
Spotlight Megatron Comic

Back in February, I started posting reviews on my blog of the original 1980s Marvel Transformers comic books. Starting with Issue 1, I would take pictures of myself holding the comics and just trying my best to look cool while doing it. Along with my reviews, I would include pictures of the ads and write up any letters that fans wrote in about the comic book at the time. These where two things I didn’t see in any of the other Transformers comic book reviews I had read. So, I figured I would start by Tweeting to @IDWltd a picture of me holding issue 1 of Transformers. I followed that with a picture I took of my book shelf and my collection of Transformers books from IDW. Most of which, I bought from Alaska Robotics here in town. From that point on I just kept submitting pictures of myself holding up Transformers comics until I ran out of time late Sunday night. I had to stop for Game of Thrones you see.

The Art of IDW's Transformers
The Art of IDW’s Transformers

The next day, I was at work when my phone alerted me to a tweet from @IDWltd.

“We have another winner! He sent us 2 dozen poses.Youseph, you’re awesome!  @YousephTanha: Shockwave is scary.  pic.twitter.com/1ImDVrdb0T

I was so excited when I saw this, I could hardly stay in my chair. I replayed back right away thanking IDW for picking me. About a day later I got another tweet from IDW Limited with a tracking number of my prize.

Runabout by Guido
Runabout by Guido

It took thirteen days but the package made it. It was a long wait, but more than worth it. These guys really sent some amazing stuff. The first thing I noticed in the box was an IDW bookmark. It looks really cool. They also sent me the first four issues of ‘Transformers Beast Wars: The Gathering’. They also sent ‘Transformers Spotlight: Megatron’ comic. There was a hard back book called ‘The Art of IDW’s Transformers: Signed Edition’ that was not signed and  for some reason I found that very funny. The book is amazing though. Well constructed and the art inside by all the amazing artists was literally breath taking. Finally there was a drawing of Decepticon, Runabout signed by the artist, Guido Guidi.

I want to thank all the folks at IDW Limited for doing this great contest and for picking me as one of their winners. Being lucky enough to have been one of the winners of this contest has made it a little bit easier for me to be a Transformers fan in Juneau, Alaska. I not only have some great comics and art to enjoy, but I have met some cool Transformers fans from twitter.