As all true geeks know, there's nothing like going back to the source to get the real deal so after last year's Transformers' movie tie-in game, Glu Mobile is looking to extend the buying power of its Robots in Disguise licence during the gap year before Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen hits the big screen in 2009.
The result is Transformers G[eneration] 1 Awakening – a 3D isometric turn-based strategy game with role-playing elements based on the original Transformers characters that's being developed in Glu's UK office, and is vaguely based on gameplay and mechanics of the company's excellent Ancient Empires turn-based strategy games.
"We thought this made a lot of sense in terms of the audience that's into those original Transformers characters and is more into strategy and development of those characters. There's also lot of interest in revitalising of the Transformers brand, especially Generation 1, with a new animated series and toy line due in the US," explains Justin Kubiak, Glu veep of North American marketing.
As you might imagine, the basic plot climaxes with the age-old battle between Optimus Prime and Megatron but along the way you have to slowly defeat the Decepticons level by level, as you build up, and unlock, your Autobot forces.
For example, the first level sees you take charge of Bubblebee, who has to capture a power pylon – which is one of the typical missions. This being a Transformers game, you can obviously swap between his two forms, with Bubblebee's car mode enabling you to travel a much larger distance than when he's in biped mode but he has to transform back in order to attack.
This occurs when enemies are within weapon range (the movement is tiled-based as you can see in this gameplay video) and plays out in short animated cut-scenes Advance Wars-style, with each transformer starting off with 100 health points, which are gradually chipped away as they get involved in more battles. Healing and levelling up of the various character attributes such as strength, intelligent, speed, firepower and endurance is carried out by the ever-helpful ambulance transformer, Ratchet.
Another coherent aspect of using the Transformers' universe is that you'll want to keep your units alive throughout the game rather than treating them like cannon fodder, particularly because of the inter-level level-up mechanic.
In total, expect 23 playable characters including Optimus Prime, Megatron, Soundwave, Blaster, Grimlock, Bumblebee, Shockwave, Starscream, Jetfire, Metroplex and Trypticon, with you taking the Autobots' side in the main story mode but getting the option to go Decepticon in the Cybertron Arena.
Looking like it could well provide a neat mixture of licence and gameplay, Transformers G1 Awakening is due for release sometime in the autumn, and we'll be following its progress with interest.