Review: Transformers: Prime (3DS)

Where more than meets the eye is a very good thing.

By Marc Deschamps. Posted 12/07/2012 10:00 Comment on this     ShareThis
The Final Grade
grade/score info
1-Up Mushroom for...
Crisp Graphics; Fantastic voice work; Fun gameplay; Transformers that actually transform
Poison Mushroom for...
Short length; Weak use of 3D

I’ve been a bad Transformers fan. Oh, sure, I have hundreds of figures, own three pages of original Transformers comic book art, and can recite the 1986 animated movie near verbatim (and the soundtrack), but for some reason, I’ve only seen one episode of Transformers: Prime. Maybe it’s fatigue. With the last series, Transformers Animated (which had its own fantastic Nintendo DS game), I was all in. When it ended, I think I just didn’t have it in me to jump into another reboot. Transformers: Prime for 3DS is starting to make me think I should rectify that– because it really is awesome.

For those familiar with the Transformers brand, the game feels like an episode of the cartoon. Megatron and his evil Decepticons have found a Dark Energon meteorite and are trying to exploit it for their own insidious purposes. Naturally, Optimus Prime and his valiant Autobots are on the case. After a brief scuffle, the meteorite explodes, leaving the Autobots scattered in various locations across the globe.

As they attempt to reunite to stop Megatron, players will play as one of five members of the Autobots– Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, Bulkhead, Ratchet or Arcee depending on the level, and one of the greatest strengths of Transformers: Prime is the diversity. Each of the five Autobots feels and handles differently. While the controls are always the same, the much larger Bulkhead always moves a lot slower than the nimble Arcee. The controls are great, too. Transforming is as simple as pressing a button, and vehicle modes can even be used to ram your opponents. There are also a few driving-heavy segments where you’ll have to transform at a specific moment to clear a jump. It’s great to see transformation getting this much focus, particularly after its baffling exclusion from the recent Transformers: Dark of the Moon 3DS game. Activision clearly learned their lesson.

Speaking of diversity, there’s something to be said about the locations in each level. They all look and feel different from the last, and the graphics overall are crisp and vibrant. Character models look very close to the way they do on the cartoon. There’s a tiny bit of blurriness when you see the characters close up (particularly in the faces), but it’s quite minimal. The game’s use of 3D, however, is pretty weak. It’s there, but compared to something like Super Mario 3D Land, it’s practically nonexistent.

In keeping with the feel of playing an episode of the cartoon, the game’s audio is spectacular. Not only do the voice actors reprise their roles from the show, but there is an amazing amount of dialogue in each level. While the Vehicon drones (the generic baddies you’ll encounter) aren’t as chatty, the Decepticons themselves, who show up as bosses in nearly every level, are quite verbose, trading quips as the battles go on– and there’s something very cool about having Starscream trash talk you mid-fight.

The game seems perfectly suited for the handheld format. Levels are brisk, often clocking in at a mere 10-15 minutes apiece. I loved being able to play just a level or two before bed. Each level is timed, rewarding players for completing it within a certain number of minutes, or collecting a certain number of Energon shards. Completing each level with a better score rewards players with character bios and concept art. While I initially thought getting a high grade would be a breeze, I found myself scoring a “C” rating on more than a few occasions. Nice to see Activision giving the older fans an extra challenge without making it tough on younger players.

The briskness isn’t all good, though, as Transformers: Prime for 3DS is a pretty short game. Advanced players won’t find themselves dying too often, and the overall game can be completed within a few hours. Still, it’s very fun while it lasts, especially for those of you that love the robots in disguise as much as I do. This is the best Transformers experience that can be found on a Nintendo system, so Trans-fans should definitely check it out. Me? I think I’ll fire up Netflix on my Wii U, as I should probably give this show another chance.

Nintendojo was provided a copy of this game for review by a third party, though that does not affect our recommendation. For every review, Nintendojo uses a standard criteria.

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