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Video Game / Transformers (2004)

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A video game based on the Transformers franchise, originally promoted under the title Transformers Armada: Prelude to Energon. Released in 2004 and developed by the Australian Melbourne House team, the game is a third-person shooter, specifically based upon the Transformers: Armada series, but not taking place within the same continuity. The basic premise is quite simple and not that different from the show; after fleeing the Autobot/Decepticon war on Cybertron, the Mini-cons are located one million years later. Knowing that they could help turn the tide of the war, both factions head to Earth in order to retrieve them. The player has the opportunity to take control of one of three Autobots; Optimus Prime, Hot Shot and Red Alert, as they explore the many environments across the world while searching for Mini-cons. Along the way, they meet opposition from the Decepticons. Once found, the Mini-cons can upgrade the abilities of the Autobots and be manually assigned by the player to mix-and-match a whole set of firepower or defensive capabilities.

Despite a few bugging criticisms, like somewhat repetitive game-play, the small roster of characters and sometimes high difficulty level, the game was very well received by both fans and critics alike and, until Transformers: War for Cybertron was released, was often considered to be the best Transformers game made. It also became one of the highest-selling games on the PlayStation 2, ranking as the 6th highest selling game at the time.

Not to be confused with Transformers: Call of the Future, a Transformers video game released a year prior to this one that was exclusive to Japan and based on the continuity of the Generation 1 cartoon.

This game provides examples of:

  • Adaptation Distillation: The game takes the main premise of Armada (Transformers trying to find Mini-Cons on Earth) but removes half the transformers and the human cast in favor of a simple Autobots vs. Decepticons storyline.
  • And Knowing Is Half the Battle: You can actually unlock un-aired Public Service Announcements from the G1 series, complete with the Trope Namer Catchphrase.
  • Always a Bigger Fish: After Megatron is defeated, the scene shifts to a peaceful view of Cybertron, where Unicron's shadow appears over it.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: Before being allowed to fight Unicron, the player will need to have rescued a certain amount of minicons on Earth. If the player simply drove past every encounter to speed-run through levels without picking up many minicons, this obviously would suck pretty badly when you look back and see you only have about 10 out of a necessary 30 (40 on the highest difficulty). Thankfully, the last level on Earth has a minicon that helps you find the rest much more easily.
  • The Artifact: On Pacific Island, there's a dropship flying around the volcano that never releases any troops or does anything else of note. Digging through the files suggests the cut minicon "Endgame"note  was meant to be found on top of it.
  • Battleship Raid: The Mid-Atlantic stage.
  • Big Bad: Megatron.
  • Boom, Headshot!: How Tidal Wave is defeated.
  • Character Select Forcing: Cyclonus is far easier to fight with Hot Shot than the others, due to his alt form being short enough to put him underwater, and thus away from Cyclonus' fire. Later in the game, you'll likely just default to Optimus Prime, due to his expanded mini-con loadout capabilities.
  • Convection, Schmonvection: Megatron's base is inside a volcano, and there's a lava pit underneath. While the lava deals slight damage, its perfectly safe to stand on the rocks poking out of the pool. Heck, if you've equipped a minicon that can heal you, these rocks become the safest place on the arena!
  • Degraded Boss: The Heavy Unit is the first boss of the game, and a Giant Mook thereafter.
  • Energy Weapon: One of Tidal Wave's attacks.
  • Friendly Fireproof: You can run over your Mini-con buddies and blast them all you like, it's not gonna hurt them.
  • Kick Them While They Are Down: Megatron will always try to close the gap with you, and if he does so while the player is downed, he'll kick them across the arena.
  • Lava Is Boiling Kool-Aid: Standing in lava deals less damage than being submerged in water does.
  • Level in Reverse: One level has you fight through a ship to get to the bridge and fight Starscream. The next, you fight your way out of the ship from the bridge, only it's now nose-down in snow.
  • Meteor Move: Megatron grabs the player's Autobot of choice, jumps about as high as the rim of the volcano they're fighting in, and piledrives his victim into the ground. He tops it off with kicking them off to one side like a tin can.
  • Metronomic Man Mashing: Another of Megatron's close-quarters moves.
  • Mythology Gag: There are a number of references to The Transformers: The Movie.
    • In one of the opening cut scenes, upon Optimus Prime's seeming defeat and the Decepticon victory over conquering Cybertron, Megatron gloats to a helpless Optimus "I would have waited an eternity for this. It's over, Prime!" — The same line the original Megatron uttered when he seemingly defeated his Optimus.
    • When he first shows up, Starscream tells you to "Prepare for extermination!" — A line most famously used by G1 Devastator.
      • He also uses G1 Starscream's "There's no escape!" and Megatron's "I'll rip out your optics".
    • Optimus's words that "Unicron must be stopped, no matter the cost!" are a direct reference to what G1 Optimus said before fighting Megatron the in animated movie.
    • The only weapon capable of hurting Unicron in the game is the Matrix Cannon. In the movie, Unicron was destroyed by the Matrix Of Leadership.
    • Unicron's last words in the game upon being destroyed are the exact same words he uttered upon being destroyed in the original film; "Destiny... You cannot... Destroy... my destiny!"
    • After Unicron is destroyed and Cybertron restored to peace, "Til all are one!" is spoken by Optimus.
      • Optimus might also say that when you choose him in the Character Selection screen.
    • Ultimately, one of the game's weaker points was recycling about 50% of their dialog from Transformers: The Movie.
  • No Waterproofing in the Future: One of the most blatant examples ever. Get into water as high as your character's head-level and your health and energy bars will drop like a stone.
  • Protagonist-Centered Morality: While the show tries (with hit or miss results) to show that the Autobots' Minicons are friends while the Decepticons' Minicons are slaves, the game skips over all of that, making it seem to the uninitiated that the game is all about who can enslave more 'bots first. At least one review has noticed this.
  • Railroading: A downplayed example; From Mid-Atlantic onwards, the game starts forcing you to spend your L1 slot on traversal-focused Mini-cons that you need to reach the end of each level, making the armor/health related Mini-cons on that slot completely useless if you want to progress.
  • Save the Villain: Optimus tries to do this with Megatron, when the latter is about to fall into the lava beneath his platform, but Megatron refuses to be saved and allows himself to fall. Which is a reference to his death in Transformers: Armada, where he lets himself fall into Unicron's black hole.
    Megatron: Oh Prime, you don’t even know when you’ve won.
  • Scenery Porn: Stages tend to be expansive and beautiful, and will usually have at least one very high vantage point to show that off.
  • That's No Moon: In one mission, the Autobots must infiltrate an aircraft carrier full of Decepticlones. Then it transforms into Tidal Wave...
  • The Starscream: Starscream in this game is actually more along the lines of his traditional character than the specific version he is based on. For instance, there's this exchange when Optimus demands Megatron's location so they can finish the war.
    Optimus Prime: This is the end Starscream. I want Megatron!
    Starscream: Then get in line.
  • Tech-Demo Game: Melbourne really has outdone themselves on this one. Not only that it has huge levels (not that the Grand Theft Auto games don't have it), but the developers managed to pull off effects like three-dimensional grass and still managed to get the game running at 60 frames per second.
  • Units Not to Scale: Averted with Tidal Wave.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: What you get when you cross unsuspecting enemy Mooks, expansive mountain terrain, and a tractor beam?
    • So here you are on one side of a large clearing or empty chamber. On the other side, a group of unsuspecting Decepticlones. Go ahead, you know you want to...
    • The minicons that follow the Autobots can ragdoll if you, say, were to accidentally hit them with a stray missile or in car mode.
    • If you're feeling like torturing the Autobots, throw a few Watchdog mines on the ground and either drive or Flash Step into them. See how far you fly, and try to beat your previous score.
  • Wake-Up Call Boss: Starscream. Very fast, hard to hit, and hits even harder. To make matters worse, this isn't even the first time you fight him... Though there is less deadly water the second time around.
  • Wham Shot: The level "Tidal Wave" is set up as one, whether you know your franchise names or not. At first you're just looking through an aircraft carrier to see if you can find and defeat Megatron's next Decepticon. Then you find a chamber containing a giant head and realize that he isn't hiding in the carrier; He is the carrier, and could wake up at any moment.
  • Unexpected Gameplay Change: The final boss of the game involves the player flying all over Cybertron trying to blast Unicron from within: nothing like the rest of the game which was a grounded third-person shooter.

Alternative Title(s): Transformers Prelude To Energon