Transformers: G1 Awakening
Now this is how you make a cool Transformers video game.
Toys from the 1980s were big, made of metal, dangerous in the wrong hands and totally awesome. Just look at the Transformers. Here you had hundreds of robots from a sweet cartoon series that morph into cars, fighter jets, tape recorders and even handguns. We begged our parents for as many as possible and then waged war in our rooms, pitting the good natured Autobots against the power hungry Decepticons. Unfortunately, video games based on these excellent characters have blown major Energon cubes, but thanks to Glu Mobile, these robots in disguise have the game they deserve with Transformers: G1 Awakening, available on the iPhone.
If you played Nintendo's Advance Wars series, you'll pick up G1 Awakening in minutes. This is a turn-based strategy game where you maneuver Autobots around the playfield and then turn the enemy to scrap metal. Glu divided each stage into a series of grids, and characters can only move a certain number of grids per turn. You tap the desired Autobot and then press the grid you want it to move to; transforming into their vehicle form lets you cover more ground, but prevents you from fighting. From there, you end your turn and wait for the enemy's next move, whether it involves retreating, advancing to your location or attacking.
Each Transformer has a health meter and possesses different strengths/weaknesses, depending on Attack, Defense and Speed. You'll need to keep in mind who's the best Autobot for each situation, since putting someone like Ratchet against Starscream would be suicide. Instead, you'll want to let your weaker heroes fill in a support role while the heavy hitters (leader Optimus Prime, Metroplex, Bumblebee) do the dirty work. You can also protect the little guys by placing stronger characters next to them or behind cover. Optimus Prime, for instance, boosts morale on nearby friends and gives them a ten percent attack and defense boost. Meanwhile, Ratchet can repair an adjacent Autobot, so long as you have one Energon cube per ten percent repaired; to find Energon, capture pylons and power stations strewn around each map.
Although the boards are in 2-D, battles play out in glorious 3-D. Each time an Autobot and Decepticon engage in combat, the game transitions to a cool looking cut scene of each robot blasting at the enemy; if you grow tired of watching the same scenes, there's a skip button. The best part? Glu modeled each Transformer off its original G1 design, retaining the classic look of the toys and characters we grew to love. Even better, there are 23 Transformers, including Soundwave, Skywarp, Thundercracker, Jetfire, and Frenzy, among others.
Whether or not the game will seriously test your battle skills, however, remains to be seen. While there's a decent amount of strategy to it, Transformers: G1 Awakening is a bit on the easy side. The Decepticons will occasionally catch you off guard if you accidentally place a weaker Autobot within their crosshairs, but for the most part, you should breeze through the earlier missions.
At the same time, there's no denying that Glu Mobile did a great job adapting Transformers into a turn-based strategy game. G1 Awakening lacks the pomp and circumstance in Activision's games, but it's both fun as well as a cool trip back to a time when Saturday morning cartoons and toys were actually good. For $4.99, there's little reason to avoid this excellent App.
What's Hot: Advance Wars style gameplay, 23 different transformers, slick 3-D cut scenes.
What's Not: Watching the same cut scenes, plowing through the easier missions, no multiplayer.