Although I don't talk about it much, I'm a pretty big fan of Transformers and I have been since they first came out way back in 1984. Although the intensity of my passion has waxed and waned over the years, I've always kept a finger in the pot.
If I had to pick one era when I was really fanboyantly-out-of-control, it would have to be Beast Wars. While there was quite a stir when the line first launched for various reasons, many of the toys turned out to be quite cool and the TV show was the best thing that has ever been produced for the franchise. That was truly a glorious era. Since then, I've picked up a few toys here and there, but the various series after Beast Wars never grabbed me that much. Until now, that is.
Recently, the first season of Transformers Prime became available on Netflix and I started watching it on a lark one day. Within just a few minutes, I was strongly reminded of Beast Wars thanks to the small cast, serious tone, and CGI production style. Although I'm only a few episodes in, I am really, really liking what I'm seeing.
Ironically, while this show seems to be another high point for the Transformers franchise, the accompanying toy line has got to be one of the worst. It's not the figures themselves, since the actual toys are of a great quality and look very attractive—clever transformations, great design, and a good balance between robot and vehicle modes. No, the problem with the toys is that it's almost impossible to figure out what should be on a checklist thanks to some truly bizarre distribution, canceled figures, first editions of figures, multiple lines of size and complexity featuring the same characters, and certain things being available in other countries but not here.
I've been buying Transformers toys as long as they've existed, but this has got to be the most confusing, most messed-up system Hasbro's ever had for getting these 'bots on shelves. At this point, I've essentially given up on trying to decipher all the marketing/rarity nonsense and I've resigned myself to simply walking into my local Target and picking up whatever's there.
It's a real shame since the show seems totally great so far, but I have no interest in chase figures, multiple versions or playing games with psycho availability. I'm a fan and ready to buy product, so what's up with this? The number of consumers hardcore enough to really put up with all of this garbage has got to be a tiny percentage of the overall market, so these shenanigans make less than no sense to me.
I was talking to someone who would know, and the current word is that XSeed games currently has no plans to localize Pandora's Tower (Wii) for the states. Out of the three Operation Rainfall titles, this was the one I was most interested in and after seeing XSeed step up for The Last Story, I'd hoped that they would do the same for this one as well.
They may change their mind in future, but as of right now it seems as though no one wants to take a risk on Pandora's… I sure hope that changes.
So what have I been playing? I'm glad you asked…
I just submitted a review for Elder Sign: Omens (iOS) which was a fantastic experience, even though the Very Hard campaign featuring Cthulhu was perhaps a bit too Very Hard. Look for that soon.
I'll also be finishing up a review for Anomaly: Warzone Earth (XBLA) either tonight or tomorrow. I'm not a big fan of Tower Defense, so it was a pleasant surprise to see this game flip that formula and put the player in the role of the oncoming enemies. It feels a bit like riding around in a lethal choo-choo train that has no brakes, really. It didn't blow my mind, but it's solid.
With that stuff out of the way, I'm sitting down with the 360 version of The Witcher 2 for a Second Opinion/new platform review to follow @RichardNaik's take on the PC version. I'd say I'm about three or four hours into it so far, and it's pretty interesting. I can't say that I'm sucked in quite yet, but this game seems like it will be quite a slow burn.
Finally, since there isn't a single thing on the Vita that I'm interested in the moment (BOO!) all of my mobile gaming time has been going to my iPhone. By sticking to recommendations that people on Twitter have tossed my way, I've been quite happy with it. Recent notables? 100 Rogues and the Wolfenstein RPG are both big winners.
If you're in the market for a new app, you can't go wrong with those.
Here are a couple of good links to check out, if you're in the market for some game-oriented reading…
If you've ever found yourself playing a game where the difficulty is just insanely out-of-control, it could be because the challenge kept getting upped thanks to the devs being so good at their own game and losing sight of how tough it might be for someone who doesn't spend twelve hours a day with it. This opinion from the Indie Gamer Chick perfectly encapsulates this phenomenon that I've been thinking about for quite a while, yet never put down on paper. Now there's no need, since she nails it right on the head.
This piece by Chris Kohler has been all over journalism/review circles lately, but if you haven't seen it, he does a great job of explaining why blaming used game sales for the woes of the industry is really missing the point. As far as I'm concerned, he's right on the money (pun intended) with this one and I agree with nearly everything he says.
This last link is about one of my favorite games, Trials HD, and the bizarre, incredibly well-hidden secret that's taken a few years for the most dedicated fans to figure out. It's a little “inside baseball” if you're not familiar with the game already, but if you've played even casually, I think the hidden Easter eggs and camouflaged message here will impress.
If nothing else, the amount of work and thought that went into embedding it into the game is fairly stunning.
Currently, he's got about 42 minutes a night to play because adulting is a timesuck, but despite that, he's a happily married guy with two kids who both have better K/D ratios than he does.
Brad still loves Transformers, he's on Marvel Puzzle Quest when nobody at the office is looking, and his favorite game of all time is the first Mass Effect -- and he thought the trilogy's ending was Just Fine, Thanks.
Follow Brad on Twitter at @BradGallaway