The Bay Transformers movies are really bad. It’s a statement that’s redundant enough to kill any witty opening in this review, but it had to be said in order to say they’re bad enough to discourage me from playing any of the movie based games. Even when I looked at the cover for Transformers: Rise of the Dark Spark I thought to myself, “Oh God. They made one based on the fourth movie.” One day, however, I was curious about how they made a 3DS port of it when I saw it on Walmart’s “Discount Price” shelves in electronics. I looked on the back of the case and to my surprise, I found this logo:
What’s more surprising is that not only Age of Extinction’s story is not present but, unlike its console ports, it’s a strategy game. Using both the Earth and Cybertron Transformers (Bay movies and High Moon Studios respectively) the Autobots and Decepticons fight for the possession of the Dark Spark, a Cybertronian artifact cable of bending the fabric of reality to its will. Character dialogue is used to execute the plot and missions as well as showcase the personalities among the cast, even making the Earth Transformers more presentable.
Gameplay is much like Fire Emblem and Super Robot Taisen with loadout setups, overhead maps, and battle segments. In the loadout screen two Support Units (skills), based on characters from the franchise, and one item can be attached to each Transformer. Each playable unit is assigned to a class and much like the weapon triad of Fire Emblem an attack based on these roles will cause a certain amount of damage based on the match-up. The units also have a special action, such as repair and hack, and a super action to turn the tide of battle. The super actions, however, costs Energon, which is finite and hard to come by on the map. They can move normally on the map, or they can go further by transforming, though going into vehicle mode costs them an action post move. Combat has three turns to trade blows, or block, with each turn filling up the gauges for the attack. Selecting an attack with a full gauge will prompt a quick time trigger to increase the damage output, with any unused or incomplete charged attacks will continue to accumulate on the next battle.
Presentation is fairly good with the design. The pixel artwork is to be expected from Wayforward, while the map is unremarkable, the Transformer sprites are really detailed and distinguishable from each other. The character models in the combat scenes and dialogue portraits are truly well done and match the designs from the movies and War For Cybertron games. Music is based the orchestra scores used for the Transformers movies and modern shows, with only a few tracks standing out. Controls utilizes the 3DS’s buttons and touch screen, though the button setup is unorthodox since the status screen for units has multiple pages, and neither method of control can show a description of the super moves unless it was readied for the units’ turns. It is recommended to use the stylus to navigate the status screens to avoid some annoyance.
+ The story has nothing to do with Age of Extinction except for characters.
+ Plays much like Fire Emblem and other tactical games so familiarity can help.
+ Playable cast of Transformers includes favorites such as Optimus Prime, Megatron, Starscream, and others.
– Button controls can be frustrating when navigating the unit’s status menus.
– The Earth Transformers seem to have little to do with the story since most of the arc features the Cybertron cast.
– Extras menu is very lackluster for bonus material.
While this is a nice title there are just a few issues that would discourage players a bit. There isn’t much in Replay Value either except for 100% completion and using Transformers that were not available in previous missions. Still it’s a decent game for killing time and getting a quick fix, and with 32 missions to play through it’s long enough to fill both the needs for tactics and giant robots on the go. Just don’t expect it to carry you to Fire Emblem: Fates’s releases. Transform and roll out!
Title: Transformers: Rise of the Dark Spark
Developer: Wayforward Technologies
Genre: Turn-Based Strategy
Resolution: Top: 800×240/Touch: 320×240
Release date: 2014-06-24
Spent time: 6+ hours
Average grade internationally: 60.00% Gamerankings.com
PEGI/ESRB age rating: 7+/Everyone 10+
The Gaming Ground
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