Fans of both Transformers and video gaming have it hard. Dating all the way back to the mid-’80s with The Transformers for the Commodore 64, Transformers games have been consistently seen as mediocre, or even outright terrible. It’s understandable — as the very concept of the franchise is quite demanding. To start, Transformers features dozens of Autobots and Decepticons, each with their own unique powers and transformations. Making all of those characters feel unique while also balancing their abilities, creating solid gunplay and making sure their vehicle modes feel fun to use and making them as capable of combat as their robotic modes can’t be easy.
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It doesn’t help that most of their games are rushed projects with short development cycles meant to capitalize on whatever film has recently been released. Still, CBR has braved the mountain of awful in order to count down 15 games featuring the “Robots in Disguise” and rank them all from worst to best. Our list spans roughly two decades and several generations, and includes everything from the awful movie tie-ins to the franchise’s best outings. So if you’ve ever wondered what games every Transformers fan just has to play, and which ones you should absolutely avoid, this is the list for you.
15 BEAST WARS: TRANSMETALS
What do you get when you take the terrible 3D CGI of the late ’90s Transformers classic series Beast Wars, after you’ve taken away the stellar writing and humor the series it’s based off is known for? Possibly the worst Transformers game of all time. Beast Wars: Transmetals was a fighting game that was released at the end of the PS1/N64 era, and was an obvious cashgrab for publisher Takara.
Despite Beast Wars not having a large roster of characters to choose from, Transmetals still managed to cut even that in half, while also having awkward combat that swaps between gunplay and hand-to-hand without the player’s permission. It’s an ugly game in terms of gameplay and aesthetics, and the only reason to ever touch it is if you’re a completist.
14 TRANSFORMERS: RISE OF THE DARK SPARK
Possibly the most disappointing thing about Transformers: Rise of the Dark Spark is that when it first released in 2014, Transformers fans had almost started to get used to playing good Transformers titles. After two impressive outings from developer High Moon Studios, it had started to feel like Transformers gamers were safe.
Unfortunately, Activision would hand the franchise over to developer Edge of Reality for a game that would tie-in not only High Moon’s popular series, but the films and the original Generation One continuity as well. This would have been acceptable, only the game’s story made little to no sense, and the beautiful level designs of High Moon’s Cybertron were replaced with ones set on Earth that were considerably more generic. In the end, the poor reception to this title would put an end to the “Cybertron” series, and that was the biggest shame.
13 TRANSFORMERS: THE GAME
Though a few people praised this game when it first released back in 2007 as being decent, this was mostly the result of lowered expectations and the game actually working. While the game was a showcase piece graphically for most of the systems it was developed for (which was every single one of them — the game came out for seven different consoles), it was also riddled with awful combat and a weird camera that shifted awkwardly to simulate the movement of the Transformers.
The game was also sorely lacking in content — featuring only a handful of Autobots or Decepticons, no other modes aside from a single-player campaign which was short and uninspired, adapting the movie perfectly. At least it had two different story modes with varying endings, so there’s that.
12 TRANSFORMERS: DARK OF THE MOON
Much like Dark Spark’s problem, Dark of the Moon’s biggest issue is that the title offered a form of false hope. Meant to tie in with the third film in the popular Michael Bay film franchise, Transformers: Dark of the Moon was developed by High Moon Studios, a company that had been responsible for the well-received Transformers: War for Cybertron only a year prior.
The game itself isn’t terrible, but the fact that the company had released a full game only a year prior made itself obvious here. Everything about this title feels rushed, from its weak combat to its weird physics and all-too-short story mode. Dark of the Moon proves that even when a movie tie-in is given to a good studio, it doesn’t matter if they aren’t given enough time to work on it.
11 TRANSFORMERS: REVENGE OF THE FALLEN
On the other hand, the actual story of the game is barely existent — strung together without any cutscenes but instead dialogue given upon the completion of each mission. The graphics aren’t terrible for a mid-gen PS and 360 title, but given it’s the Michael Bay Transformers that’s not saying much to begin with. The game is also rather buggy, freezing in some spots and failing to notice completed mission objectives — it’s a rushed movie tie-in game, through and through.
10 TRANSFORMERS ANIMATED: THE GAME
Transformers Animated: The Game, is probably the most bold title on this list as far as what you’d expect a Transformers title to be. Though most of the games on this list wound up being just open-world/third-person shooter hybrids or fighting games, TFA: The Game is more old-school, being a side-scrolling platformer that mostly centered around puzzle-solving.
First launching in 2008 for the Nintendo DS, TFA: The Game was the only title Transformers: Animated ever got, which is shocking considering that series’ high levels of popularity. Designed primarily for kids, it’s still an enjoyable game, and its only real problems are poor graphics — forgivable since it’s a game for the Nintendo DS — and the fact that for a Transformers game, it rarely ever requires players to actually transform.
9 TRANSFORMERS: RISE OF THE DARK SPARK (3DS)
While Rise of the Dark Spark for home consoles and PC was pretty awful, the 3DS version of the game was surprisingly decent. While Edge of Reality worked on the console/PC title, the 3DS iteration was handed over to developer Wayforward Technologies. Knowing that the game as it was simply couldn’t work on a system so much weaker, Wayforward ditched the third-person shooter gameplay and turned their version of the title into a strategy RPG.
Since the entire Transformers franchise is based around two armies beating each other into surrender, their decision actually worked out well. Dark Spark for the 3DS features a wide variety of playable units as well as an even larger number of support characters that make the player feel like a commander sending his troops into battle. The only thing that keeps this game from climbing higher is a lack of polish.
8 TRANSFORMERS G1: AWAKENING
One of the first Transformers games to enter the mobile space, it was something of a surprise when G1 Awakening managed to be an excellent game. First announced at BotCon 2008, Transformers G1: Awakening was developed and published by Glu Mobile for non-smartphones, but would make the transition to Apple and Android phones two years later. In both incarnations, the game was well-received, and considered to be a refreshing return to the old-school Generation 1 Transformers designs at a time where the “Bayformers” of the films seemed to be ubiquitous.
Featuring turn-based strategy combat in the vein of Advance Wars, G1 Awakening possessed a large cast and a sizeable story that could be played from both the side of the Autobots and Decepticons. The only real drawback were the game’s simplistic graphics, but considering the game was first developed around the time of the first iPhone, it’s a problem easily forgiven.
7 ANGRY BIRDS TRANSFORMERS
You can blame an Angry Birds spin-off being this high on a Transformers-focused list on one of two things: this list being terrible, or the number of good Transformers games being far too small. But when you can set aside the frustrating issues this free-to-play game has with paywalls and timers, it’s surprisingly entertaining.
Set in a world where the EggSpark lands on Piggy Island and turns the birds and pigs into Transformers, Angry Birds Transformers has players control the Autobirds and Deceptihogs to save the island from the evil EggBots and converted monsters in an adorably cute side-scrolling shooter. Packed with lots of characters to unlock (and upgrade, since it IS free to play), beautiful graphics and solid gunplay, this seeming cash grab really is more than meets the eye.
6 TRANSFORMERS: CALL OF THE FUTURE
Transformers: Call of the Future is a strange title. Released in 2003, Call of the Future came out in Japan for the PS2, but it never made it Stateside, even though the game’s dialogue is entirely in English, and even the game’s menus and text can be swapped over to English as well.
Having said that…Call of the Future isn’t a very good game, unfortunately. Featuring some fairly repetitive gameplay, the only reason it manages to make it so far up the list is that the sheer amount of fan service poured into the game is astounding. The game had a whopping 38 characters that got to explore 10 stages for both the Autobots and Decepticons, and featured both fan favorite and obscure G1 characters, making this game a must-play for any die-hard Generation 1 fan.
5 TRANSFORMERS (PS2)
Developed by Atari, Transformers for the PS2 was based on the Transformers cartoon at the time, Transformers: Armada. A semi-open world third-person shooter, the title was stunning in a number of ways — from its then-beautiful graphics to the spacious levels that encouraged exploration and massive Decepticon bosses.
The game has only three playable characters, but makes up for it by making those characters each play completely different, and populating each level full of collectable Mini-Cons, the plot device of the Armada series, which adds new skills to your chosen Transformers character, creating a high level of replayability as the player seeks to find both the remaining Mini-Cons as well as try out the new skills each one gives them. Well-received by both fans and critics at the time, Transformers for the PS2 is probably the first legitimately good Transformers game.
4 TRANSFORMERS: FORGED TO FIGHT
To many fans of traditional gaming, that a mobile game could crack the top five no doubt seems insane. Chalk it up to the dearth of excellent Transformers titles if you must, but Forged to Fight is as good a Transformers game as one could hope to receive on mobile games, and a pretty decent title in its own right.
A fighting game, Transformers: Forged to Fight sees the Autobots stranded on a strange planet after attempting to travel back from Earth to Cybertron to restore their home world. Forged to Fight mixes not only G1, but the film universe and Beast Wars as well, and its mobile nature means the game is always having new characters added to it. Add a deep customization/leveling system, and you’ve got a fun little time-waster for any Transformers fan rolling out.
3 TRANSFORMERS: WAR FOR CYBERTRON
When Activision first announced that their developer High Moon Studios was going to be working on a new Transformers game, there wasn’t much faith that it would be very good. After all, to that point the large majority of Transformers games released had been average at best, but generally terrible.
So when War for Cybertron was finally shown off, it’s safe to say that it blew most Transformers fans away. Choosing to boldly ditch the Earth setting to focus on Cybertron, using an art style that was more reminiscent of 2000s Dreamwave series The War Within, and backing all that up with strong third-person shooter gameplay, War for Cybertron was the first good Transformers title of the HD era, and felt like the title many fans had been dreaming about for years.
2 TRANSFORMERS: DEVESTATION
Made by the wunderkind developers over at Platinum, Transformers: Devastation was announced to little fanfare at E3 of 2015. But when the game was revealed to come out later that same year, fans had even less hope for the game after Legend of Korra, a game that had released only a year prior, came out to poor reviews and negative fan reception.
But Devastation wound up being a shock both to fans of Platinum as well as Transformers, combining a surprisingly deep combo and RPG-esque customization system with beautiful graphics that perfectly emulated the old-school G1 style. The only two problems with Devastation are its anemic cast — boasting only five playable Autobots and no Decepticons — and the fact that so far, there’s no sequel coming for this amazing title.
1 TRANSFORMERS: FALL OF CYBERTRON
Transformers: Fall of Cybertron is the peak of Transformers video games. Continuing the unique continuity set up in Transformers: War for Cybertron, FoC takes things further — developing the civil war between the Autobots and Decepticons and delving into the final days before Cybertron becomes unlivable, pushing things towards their inevitable exodus from Cybertron and travel to the planet Earth.
Building on everything that came before in War for Cybertron, FoC features great gunplay, beautiful graphics, and a variety of transformations that all feel good to control — from trucks and cars to jets and helicopters. With tons of moments for longtime fans like controlling the Dinobots or getting to be a Decepticon Combiner that rains down death on any Autobot within range, Fall of Cybertron never seems content to be merely a great game, but becomes a great Transformers game as well.
Do you rank these Transformers games differently? Let us know about it in the comments!
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