#7: TransBot (1986 Sega)


The past few posts have been looking at the Sega Card lineup, and so far the results have not been good, whether the format was just too limiting or whether the games were just quick thrown-together jobs to pad out the launch lineup. This tedious space shooter that seems to have been inspired by Transformers is unfortunately not going to change that. The sad part is that for the first five minutes it seems to have potential to be at least a solid shump, but after that it leaves you with an empty feeling that there should be more to it.

Yep, another universe that needs saving.

Yep, another universe that needs saving.

As you might imagine the universe is threatened by a malevolent force, this time by an ancient computer named DALAUS that has managed to raise an army which is out to destroy everything in its path. Not surprisingly you’re the only one who can stop it by controling a special ship that has the ability to transform into a robot. You soar through each level blasting the different enemies that come flying your way in predicable patterns while trying not to get hit yourself, though you have a life meter that lets you absorb several hits. Occasionally a carrier vehicle drives along the bottom of the screen and if you blast it it’ll release a crystal ball which will allow you to choose one of six special weapons to activate, depending on which letter you select as it cycles through the choices. While the special weapons are cool, you can only shoot them a limited amount of times before you revert back to your default pea shooter. A couple of the options will even change your ship into robot mode but your alternate mode doesn’t really do anything different from the normal form, it flies like the ship and nothing else. The controls work okay but like other shooters there’s no built-in rapid fire, meaning some button mashing is in store to mount any real offense. However the real kicker is the level will continue endlessly until you have the right weapon at the right time to enter the underground part of the stage. In other words you have to hope you get a specific weapon or you’ll never advance, which seems pretty unnecessary, not to mention annoying.

Watch as the robot...does nothing except fly just like the ship.

Watch as the robot…does nothing except fly just like the ship.

Assuming you do have the correct weapon when you reach the end of the stage, you fly down into the underground base for more shooting action against more flying enemies. After a short sequence you’re matched up against something not unlike an Imperial AT-ST walker straight out of Star Wars, which I’m told is DALAUS itself. If you succeed in blasting it then you’re zapped back to the main level and, wait of it, you do it all over again. That’s right, you just have the two parts and nothing else, no other stages or anything like that, and there’s no ending. The graphics are just about as simple as the gameplay; the sprites are nicely done and crisp-looking and the backgrounds are decent but are recycled over and over and you get tired of seeing them pretty quickly. The music is equally monotonous since it’s just one background theme which gets on your nerves in no time, and the sound effects are nothing special. So after just one playthough there’s nothing new to see, giving you little reason to play it again.

The final "showdown".

The final “showdown”.

Ultimately Transbot turns out to be another strike against the Sega Card format with its boring and repetitious gameplay that’s over after just five minutes. Again the game just leaves you feeling it could have done so much more with some of it’s features, including the robot mode which just seems there to justify the game title and nothing else. More enemies, move levels, just about more anything would have helped make this card at least worth your time. As is there’s just nothing to make me recommend this outdated cart over the other shumps on the Master System.

4 thoughts on “#7: TransBot (1986 Sega)

  1. It’s “shmup”, dude, not “shump”! Either you’ve got a funny spellchecker, or you’ve been saying it wrong all these years! From shoot-em-up!

  2. I wonder if this was the precursor to Android Assault ? I know there’s been countless mecha/ship games, but when I first played AA on the SCD the first thing it made me nostalgic for was Transbot!

  3. The Transformer feature is interesting but some weapons are ridiculously overpowered like the “Sword Fire”, a large vertical line that just plows through ever enemy in it’s way.
    It’s gets also very boring, since the first level is way too long and then follows another short segment and a very weak boss fight.
    May have been fun back in the 80’s but aged horribly unlike other shmup classics of the time like R-Type or Life Force.

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