Three years ago, Melbourne House did something spectacular and wholly unexpected. It took the perennially abused Transformers licence and conjured an almost-wonderful game for Atari. We described it as "one of the most enjoyable games" of 2004. If you have a PS2, and have some sort of movie-related Transformers itch that you just have to scratch, you should definitely track it down. Not only will you be saving yourself the pain and misery of playing the latest botched attempt, but you'll become the proud owner of one of the most bafflingly overlooked PS2 games ever made.
But seeing as you're here, you may as well read what we have to say about the latest one. It's a return to form, you might say, in the sense that it's a return to the kind of hastily knocked-up licensed rubbish that we'd normally associate with a) Transformers titles and b) blockbuster games-of-the-movie. It's every bit as uninspired and insipidly generic as you might fear - and sometimes Traveller's Tales seemingly does everything it can to hammer down whatever cynicism you might harbour for this kind of by-the-numbers fodder.
At its core, Transformers is possibly the most unsophisticated mech brawler since Rise of the Robots. Although sometimes we long for a return to the pick-up-and-play sensibilities of the '80s and early '90s, Traveller's Tales has managed to come up with a combat system that makes even Golden Axe seem complicated by comparison. Requiring just one button for melee combat, you'll pull off relatively flashy, destructive manoeuvres that shatter your enemies into a gleeful shower of sparks and twisted metallic shards, but you'll do the same moves so often that you'll be suing TT for repetitive strain injuries. It all adds up to an attractive, pulse-racing spectacle, sure, but in terms of gameplay variety it's flatlining from the moment you put the disk in the tray. The folks Melbourne House must be either laughing their heads off or distraught that no-one at Traveller's Tales thought to build on their good work.
When Michael Bay was announced as the director who would be transforming some '80s toy robots into a live action movie for the modern era, the internet exploded with rage. But if the creators of the videogame of the movie are feeling any pressure from the fanboys, the game's producer, Andy Burrows, isn't letting on, to judge by his laid back interview style. Although he does have his concerns about the level of internet interest in both the movie and the game.
Activision has signed up Transformers film stars Shial LaBeouf and Megan Fox to reprise their roles in the game.
Vicarious Visions is creating two versions of the DS Transformers game, one for Autobot fans and one for Decepticon supporters.
This is a cursed licence. First we got the Ocean-published abomination in the mid 80s, which we'd rather not try and recall. Then the Japan-only Transformers Tataki on PS2, which was made by huge Transformers enthusiasts and managed to nail the setting with 100 faithfully recreated robots. Unfortunately it forgot the whole game part. The next Transformers game was also on PS2, this time a product of Melbourne House via Atari, which ended up wonderfully enjoyable third person shooter that just didn't use the licence. No cut scenes, no recognisable locations, a fistful of robots we knew but far more that we didn't and a transforming ability that felt a little clumsy.
Activision has announced that Traveller's Tales is developing its upcoming Transformers game for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Wii, PS2 and PC.
Obviously we're all a bit terrified about Michael Bay's new Transformers film, but if our old friend Internet Reports is to be believed then we will at least get to vomit as well as cry our eyes out when the film's released on July 4th 2007.
Hasbro has officially confirmed what Activision told its investors last week: Activision's got the rights to make a Transformers game to tie in with the live action movie due out on July 4th 2007.
However Hasbro's announcement sheds a bit more light. The publisher's entitled to make games on consoles, handheld and PC, says Hasbro, everywhere in the world except for Japan.
What's more, this is just the beginning. The film game, due out around the time of the film which Michael Bay is currently off ruining somewhere, is described as "the first". If Activision keeps up the standard shown by Atari's Melbourne House team on the last Transformers game for PS2, hopefully we'll see quite a few. A developer's yet to be announced.
Activision's confirmed an MCV report from last month that it's picked up the rights to the new Transformers movie, which sounds like it's going to be the most horrific assault on my childhood since somebody threw a stick between the spokes of my back wheel while I was cycling next to a river full of crocodiles aged 12.