Transformers is a 2011 Licensed Pinball Table designed by George Gomez for Stern Pinball. It is a tie-in to the live-action Transformers film series by Michael Bay, particularly Transformers: Dark of the Moon.
As with the long-running toyline and franchise, this pinball game is about the ongoing civil war between a race of Mechanical Lifeforms, divided into the heroic Autobots and the evil Decepticons. The game begins by throwing you into the fray, requiring you to choose a side to ally with; thus alligned, you must then assemble the five members of your selected faction by completing the Battle Modes for all of them, then lead your forces to engage the turncoat Sentinel Prime. Defeat Sentinel, then take the fight to the members of the opposite side, and fight through them all for a chance to settle the eons-old conflict in the Battle For Cybertron. This is all accompanied with several original musical scores, along with an assortment of voice clips and video footage from the films.
The Transformers pinball was available in several variations — in addition to the standard ("Pro") model, it was available in Autobot, Decepticon, or "Combo" Limited Editions, with different backbox translite and cabinet art, color-coded and laser-etched metalwork, support for a shaker motor, and additional playfield toys, features, and rules.
This segmenting between Autobots and Decepticons extends to the game itself, as the player's choice of which side to play altered the rules. Unfortunately, the game itself is a bit of a letdown; while the action is fast and furious, many players found it too repetitive, simply requiring shooting the same six major shots over and over again. On the other hand, others deem this appropriate given the source, making Transformers a pinball game they enjoy because it doesn't demand more than sitting back and enjoying the spectacle.
In 2012, Stern produced a home version of this game, the first in their line of "The Pin" consumer tables. However, aside from the property and the artwork, Transformers Pin (later renamed to Transformers: The Pin) has no connection to the original game, using an entirely different cabinet, layout, and rules.
The Transformers pinball games demonstrate the following tropes:
- The Cameo: Hitting the Energon targets shows the Allspark converting everyday appliances into flash symbols. The middle appliance is a cassette tape player that bears a striking resemblance to the Transformers: Generation 1 version of Soundwave.
- Color-Coded for Your Convenience/Purple Is Powerful/Red Is Heroic: The Transformers factions, which are colored "Autobot crimson" and "Decepticon violet," respectively. The playfield is thematically divided into two color-coded halves, and the "Combo" Limited Edition version has each half of the cabinet similarly colored.
- Computer Voice: Most notable with the Allspark's callouts, which are heavily processed to being nearly unrecognizable.
- Five-Man Band: The Autobots consist of Optimus Prime (The Leader), Bumblebee (The Heart), Ironhide (The Big Guy), Mudflap and Skids (Tagalong Kid), and Ratchet (The Medic).
- Forced Level-Grinding: Much of the reason for the game's overly-long feel is the need to make an arbitrary number of shots for each character; most players will need to play a Transformer's mode several times before completing it.
- In Name Only: Transformers: The Pin◊, which changes the cabinet, removes the dot-matrix display, changes the playfield, omits the music and sound effects...Keller: "Dear God... what is this?"
- Limited Special Collector's Ultimate Edition: The Limited Edition tables, which cost nearly $2,000 over the regular "Pro" model, and were produced in limited quantities (125 for each faction, and 500 of the "Combo" version).
- Expansion Pack: The Limited Editions feature some additional playfield elements that expand the game rules a bit, such as having to hit a target behind Starscream as he turns to block it, and a tilting mini-playfield for the Ironhide ramp shot.
- Match Sequence: The word "MATCH" appears on the display, then transforms into the match number.
- Mechanical Lifeforms
- New Rules as the Plot Demands: The game's rules change according to what faction the player chooses at the beginning, such as whether certain shots will increase the Score Multiplier or the Bonus Multiplier, or how jackpots are collected in the multiball modes for the factions' leaders.
- Off-the-Shelf FX: The Bumblebee Camaro on the playfield is a Hot Wheels car, while the various Transformers figures are from Hasbro's toy line (most notably the "Robo Fighters" series).
- Ramp Jump: When the Optimus Prime Multiball is enabled, a ramp rises for players to shoot him.
- Random Drop: Played with by the Allspark Cube saucer, which is supposed to drop a random award, but almost always gives something relevant to the current game state.
- Signature Style: A two-flipper "fan" design, a saucer in the left side of the playfield, and lots of straight lines and angles? Hey, it's a George Gomez pinball!
- Skill Shot: There are up to four available.
- Shoot the flashing rollover lane for a standard Skill Shot.
- The first Secret Skill Shot is to soft plunge the ball into the center lane leading to Megatron.
- The second Secret Skill Shot is to weak plunge the ball so it drops to the right flipper, then shoot the left ramp.
- The third Secret Skill Shot is only available on Limited Edition games. Launch the ball while holding down the left flipper button to send the ball counterclockwise to the left flipper, then shoot the right ramp.
- Spelling Bonus: Spell B-U-M-B-L-E-B-E-E to start a temporary Double Scoring frenzy mode.
- Tap on the Head: Shown in one of the animations for hitting Mudflap and Skids.
- Timed Mission: All of the characters' modes; making a certain number of shots before time runs out is required to complete them.
- Wizard Mode
- The sub-Wizard Mode is "Sentinel Prime Battle", and is available after completing the Battle Mode for all of the characters in your faction. With one ball, shoot the game's six main shots twice each, then shoot the Allspark Saucer to collect the Super Jackpot.
- The Wizard Mode is "Battle for Cybertron," and is available after completing the Battle Mode for all of the Transformers. This is a six-ball multiball mode, where you must shoot the game's six main shots three times each, then shoot the Allspark Saucer. The Battle continues until only one ball remains on the table.