“Never meet your heroes” is the old saying, and in the case of the game I’m writing about here, that’s more quite appropriate. That game is Transformers Tataki, and boy, is it ever terrible.
First, a little background: When I first saw previews of the game back in 2003, I was completely stoked for it. A Transformers action game based on the original G1 series: sold. Then, it was announced it wouldn’t be coming to the west. Bummer, as being a PS2 game it was region locked, meaning without a modified or imported console I was out of luck. But as luck would have it, some years later I took possession of a Japanese PS3 console, which had a side benefit of being able to play Japanese PS2 games without the need for costly modification, and so the hunt for Tataki began, after scouring online auction sites & foreign retailers I finally got hold of a copy. I really wish I hadn’t bothered…..
It starts of so promisingly, fire up the game and you’re treated to a suitably Transformers-esque intro, complete with rousing music (although no Stan Bush tracks, boo) and pleasingly, most of the game is actually in English, making it an import friendly experience. All of the characters you remember, plus a few you don’t are present, so huge nostalgia points there, too. The plus points drop off pretty fast from there, however, as when you get into the game proper, it all comes crashing down.
Starting story mode, player are asked to choose a faction to follow, either the Autobots, the heroes or the Decepticons, the villains and then the missions begin. The cutscenes that move the story forward are surprisingly in English, although the voice acting & dialogue are horrible (I know it’s a game about giant transforming robots, but it doesn’t exactly need to be Shakespeare, does it?). The horrible cutscenes are just the appetiser though as the actual game is much worse.
Missions are sub-par Dynasty Warriors affairs, where your team of characters must defeat all the enemies thrown at you or defeat a boss to progress, but these are fundamentally broken. Animations are slow and clunky, meaning attacks frequently miss their target, this coupled with the awful controls means you’re frequently left trying to attack thin air, all the while taking damage from the precise attacks of the CPU enemies. This is not conducive to a pleasant experience, and it left me feeling this game is a Transformers one in name only, at no point do I feel like I’m playing as a giant robot, capable of unleashing awesome power. Instead I’m left feeling that I’m playing an episode of Robot Wars or Battlebots, where a set of amateur designed “robots” flail away at each other, hoping that at some point you’ll do some damage to the opposition.
I’ll make a confession here, I’ve only played the first handful of levels, so bad is this game. But it’s enough to know that I don’t need to play anymore of this dreck, and that breaks my heart, as before the release of War for Cybertron & Fall of Cybertron, transformers games had been almost universally awful (there is a PS2 game that wasn’t bad, but that’s the only one that reached that benchmark). I could just get rid of it, but after all the searching it took to actually get hold of a copy, I’m loathed to sell it, because it’s still a transformers game, and the nice boxart does look nice in my collection. But that’s little solace compared to the feeling that I shouldn’t have even bothered in the first place. Never meet your heroes indeed, because it’ll only lead to disappointment.