The Return of Talking Time

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  #61  
Old 09-12-2018, 09:43 AM
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Man that Autocon symbol really gets around.
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  #62  
Old 09-13-2018, 04:05 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dracula View Post
good news! We're definitely done with Time Tunnels. Definitely.
But are we done fighting oversized hood ornaments, though? I'm guessing probably not.
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  #63  
Old 09-13-2018, 08:05 AM
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Stage 9
地下機械都市
Subterranean Machine City




Stage 9 begins with a deceptively difficult battle with a lamp. The obvious path would be to fall and jump away from the lamp before it shoots a bullet, but with Magnus' slippery controls this is more difficult than it might seem.



My strategy is to missile it and truck left before the bullet gets to me. Once Louis Discomfort Tiffany is unplugged, we have a choice of two routes, upper or lower.



Proceeding on the lower path forces us to miss a powerup Starscream that floats past in the top passage. You'll notice that there are now three paths to choose from: upper, middle, and lower, with the latter accessible only via truck mode.



Heading up to get the powerup (a "P") forces us to face this lamp crossfire situation from the most difficult angle. If we try to attack the lamp on the upper platform...



...we get slagged. The best way to survive here is to time our descent with the lamps' bullets and attack the bottom right one as we fall.



And we still almost get caught by the bullet from behind.



Another Starscream passes through the middle way here. He drops an "F" which is basically useless in a close-quarters level like this.



Next we hit the second part of the stage, marked by this odd little chamber of floating butts.



These enemies occur only in this one spot. What are they hiding?



A strange icon!



What could it be? It gives us a large quantity of points when we collect it. Also, if we're not careful with our shots, we can accidentally reveal it before we've killed the butts, and the powerup is also vulnerable to our shots.

Anyway...sigh. This thing is the old Takara mascot, Dakka-chan:

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  #64  
Old 09-13-2018, 08:06 AM
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Dakka-chan was a doll that defined the Takara company's success. It is also a bleak reminder of Japan's ignorance of the racial connotations of blackface caricature. She was present on the company's logo all the way up through the 80s. This Tumblr post has good historical details about Dakka-chan and her cultural context.

Anyway, less racism, more robots.



Past Dakka-chan we pass through a curiously empty hallway that continues the three-tier route of the first section.



Next, we have to content with more orange bats. These detach from the ceiling and swoop down in a very steep sine wave. If you don't slow down like I did, you can easily drive under the middle group that killed me here.





Close to this section we also find a Starscream that drops the letter "S". We've spelled "RODIMS." Huh. I thought for sure this was going to spell something different. Now I don't know. Oh well.





The final section of the stage is similar to the middle, except for some some floating mines in our way. And we're done!











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  #65  
Old 09-13-2018, 08:08 AM
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  #66  
Old 09-13-2018, 08:09 AM
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Here is the SINISTER SECRET of Stage 9: It behaves like World 4-4 in Super Mario Brothers. If you don't navigate the trio of pathways in exactly the right order, it loops back around. And the correct pathway...looks like this:


(Click to embiggen)

Wowzers.

Not at all intuitive, nor is there any indicator in the game whether you've taken the right or wrong path. (In fairness, SMB gives no indication either, although later versions added a positive/negative chime.) This is the only part of the game that feels indefensible to me. Up to this point, you can simply hurl yourself at the challenges over and over until you figure out the best way through them. Here, you need to try likely HUNDREDS of combinations of routes before you stumble into the correct one.

I will admit that although I've completed this game on my Famicom, I've never once tried to finish Stage 9 without the map. Perhaps it's easier to accidentally encounter the correct path by accident...but I doubt it.

So, with our new knowledge, we take the correct route...

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  #67  
Old 09-13-2018, 08:10 AM
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Ninth Boss
破壊大帝/メガトロン
Great Emperor of Destruction / MEGATRON

Quote:
Originally Posted by Translated from the Manual
Creates horrifying destructive power by drawing anti-matter from black holes produced from his fusion cannon. He is also the supreme leader of the Destrons, and a sovereign of cold-blooded evil ruling through brutality.


Megatron was one of the 10 original Decepticons released in 1984, and the best-known leader of the evil Transformers. His toy transformed into a realistic Walther P38 handgun with fanciful sniper attachments based on a prop weapon from the TV show "The Man from U.N.C.L.E." The toy was repurposed from the Microman "Microchange" toyline, which featured various household objects that could convert into robots intended to interact with the 4-inch Microman figures.

Megatron's characteristic G1 design has been difficult to revisit on account of the USA being more restrictive of toy guns than real guns. Unlike Optimus, the original Megatron has never had a domestic reissue, and modern versions of the character usually convert into a tank or jet.



Anyway, none of that matters much for the purposes of this game, where Megatron doesn't transform into anything. He more or less behaves like Bruticus, drifting up and down while occasionally firing a shot in Magnus' direction. He does, at least, resemble his animation model a bit better than the previous Decepticon bosses that we've seen. It is curious that the other character bosses, canonically, were large characters, but here, Megatron is thrice the size of Magnus for no other reason than "video game."

But yeah, a few shots to the blue spot on his head and Megs goes down for good.

EPILEPSY WARNING






NEXT: AGAIN.
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  #68  
Old 09-14-2018, 03:23 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dracula View Post
Here is the SINISTER SECRET of Stage 9: It behaves like World 4-4 in Super Mario Brothers. If you don't navigate the trio of pathways in exactly the right order, it loops back around. And the correct pathway...looks like this:


(Click to embiggen)

Wowzers.

Not at all intuitive, nor is there any indicator in the game whether you've taken the right or wrong path. (In fairness, SMB gives no indication either, although later versions added a positive/negative chime.) This is the only part of the game that feels indefensible to me. Up to this point, you can simply hurl yourself at the challenges over and over until you figure out the best way through them. Here, you need to try likely HUNDREDS of combinations of routes before you stumble into the correct one.

I will admit that although I've completed this game on my Famicom, I've never once tried to finish Stage 9 without the map. Perhaps it's easier to accidentally encounter the correct path by accident...but I doubt it.
Hmmm, seeing that the map comes with the game's manual... that strikes me as a sort of copy protection (or rather, re-sale protection?), no? Like those puzzles back in the day that required checking the feelies that came with it for solution, of MG2's frequency in the back of the box.
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  #69  
Old 09-14-2018, 09:30 AM
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Stage 10
タイムトンネルIV
Time Tunnel IV




Yes, for Mystery of Convoy's ULTIMATE CHALLENGE, we get to play Stage 8 in reverse. A vertical climb of goop turrets and chromosomes. Let's do it.



Like the previous Time Tunnel reversal, Stage 10 does feel harder than Stage 8 simply because of the way you have to approach the goop turrets. Many of the jumps are set at exactly the height that Magnus can ascend, which means you need to ease yourself onto platforms while dodging bullets.



If you're not careful, situations like this will occur. Actually, they'll still occur even when you're careful.



The only way up through this route is by jumping onto the thin platform in the middle of the screen. It's impossible to attack the goop turret from any angle before ascending, so you have you time your jump exactly correctly, balance on the edge of the plaform, and short-hop left before the bullet strikes you.



Most of the goop turrets can be taken out like this before jumping.



The stage layout repeats itself, but with slightly different enemy placement. Here's that same "tall jump to center platform, short hop left" scenario, but with a chromosome instead of goop turrets. In standard Mystery of Convoy fashion, it comes after the more difficult goop turret version.



One more tall jump and short hop, and...
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  #70  
Old 09-14-2018, 09:31 AM
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10th Boss
ダイノベース / ダイナザウラー
Dinobase / DINOSAURER

Quote:
Originally Posted by Translated From the Manual
Assault base. In dinosaur mode, uses back-mounted rockets to jump 32 kilometers. In city mode, assumes the role of a communications center. Has the greatest destructive power among the Destrons; uses heat-seeking plasma bombs and many other types of weaponry.


Dinosaurer, or Trypticon to us westerners, was one of two "city-former" characters released during the third year of the G1 toyline. Basically Decepticon Godzilla, he could walk if you stuck some "C" batteries in his tail. He transforms into a large base mode with a central ramp, two landing areas, and an assortment of towers and cannons. The batteries cause a couple of removable radar dishes to spin in this mode. He's also got a third "battle station" mode that's pretty much just his city mode, compressed, with all the guns facing forward.

Since Godzilla is another big interest of mine, Trypticon is one of my favorite TF characters. Unfortunately his self-loathing personality described in his original Universe bio hasn't ever really been explored in his fictional appearances, most instead reaching for the "mindless monster" approach. But he's still a cool giant dinosaur so it's all good.

Last year Hasbro made a new version of him. That's him in the pictures. He can eat little figures and they tumble into his stomach. It's very good.



So in Mystery of Convoy, Trypticon serves as the game's final boss. This is teased on the game's cover, where he can be seen floating in space over Magnus, and of course in the manual as well.



He behaves exactly like Megatron, but his...let's call them "heat seeking plasma bombs"...have a much larger hitbox, making them more difficult to dodge from the center platform.

Nevertheless...



EPILEPSY WARNING!


He's pretty easy to defeat.

Last edited by Dracula; 09-14-2018 at 12:59 PM.
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  #71  
Old 09-14-2018, 09:33 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Translated From the Japanese text that's in English characters for some reason
EMERGENCY ORDERS

The Destrons have returned with new and greater power. Collect the "RODIMUS" Energon cubes and crush the Destrons again!

Scramble! ULTRA MAGNUS!










So what is the "Mystery of Convoy"?

I'm glad you asked!

This Famicom game came out during a pivotal point in Transformers history. The game was released on December 5, 1986. You may recall 1986 also as the release year of The Transformers: The Movie, the theatrical film that, in an infamous tonal shift from the lightweight Saturday morning cartoon, killed off Optimus Prime, Starscream, Megatron, and a raft of other 1984 product characters, replacing them with a new cast of toys characters introduced in the film, such as Hot Rod, Ultra Magnus, and Galvatron.

Following the movie, the third season of the cartoon began airing, continuing its focus on the new 1986 characters. In Japan, Transformers was enjoying popularity much as it was overseas. The first and second season of the cartoon were dubbed into Japanese and renamed "戦え!超ロボット生命体 トランスフォーマー" ("Fight! Super Robotic Lifeform Transformers").


BREAK UP

Following their success, the third season of the American cartoon was similarly dubbed and released as "戦え!超ロボット生命体 トランスフォーマー2010" ("Fight! Super Robotic Lifeform Transformers 2010"), starting in November 1986...but skipped the movie.


The title music of "Mystery of Convoy" is based on this theme.

The movie didn't get released in Japan until 1989, which meant the 2010 series refocused on a new set of characters without explanation.



It thus fell on other storytellers to detail the absence of earlier characters and the appearance of new ones. Story pages in TV Magazine, starting in December 1986, retold the Movie tale with new illustrations. Also released in December 1986 was...Mystery of Convoy. Convoy, by the way, is just the Japanese name for Optimus Prime, if I hadn't already explained that.

Here's the Famicom game's "prologue," translated from the manual:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Manual
The evil Destron army, scheming to conquer the planet's natural resources, forced Earth to stand against being driven into a desperate situation. The peace-loving Cybertrons, to protect the Earth, challenged the Decepticons to battle. However, during this battle, the Cybertron Supreme Commander Convoy fell to his wounds. The dying Supreme Commander Convoy appointed Commanding Officer Ultra Magnus, the City Commander of Scramble City, personally granting him the Matrix that was stored inside his body. Ultra Magnus received orders from Convoy to regain peace on Earth, and bravely challenged the Destrons to battle.
This pretty well describes the action from The Transformers: The Movie. Optimus did indeed die during a great battle with the Decepticons, and then Ultra Magnus received the Matrix from him.

Oh, by the way, in Japan, Autobots are known as "Cybertrons" and Decepticons are known as "Destrons," if that wasn't clear enough already. So what did they call the Transformer home planet in Japan? "セイバートロン," which literally comes out to something like "Seibertron." All this to say, the branding of this game may have been calculated as a possible bridge between "Transformers" and "Transformers 2010." But that's just a theory. A ゲーム・セオリー.

Anyhow, if you're familiar with how The Movie plays out, you may remember that the film didn't end with Ultra Magnus as supreme commander. Which brings us back to...

Last edited by Dracula; 09-14-2018 at 09:46 AM.
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  #72  
Old 09-14-2018, 09:35 AM
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Back to Stage 8:
Time Tunnel III



You may remember Stage 8 as the descending version of Stage 10. As it turns out, it's the only of the four Time Tunnel stages in which a letter-cube is hidden! On my original playthrough of this game, I'd forgotten about this detail, and missed the "true" ending. But since no Starscreams appear in Time Tunnels, where does the letter come from?



About halfway through the level, exiting stage left leads us to a hidden room!



Stashed in this room is the final secret energon cube, guarded by a unique enemy, a wingding raining bullets. This room even has unique music! I don't remember if I mentioned this before, but every stage in Mystery of Convoy uses the same music track. Except for this one screen.





We take out the wingding and collect the letter, causing a giant portrait of Megatron to appear.



When we get back through Stages 9 and 10, battling Megatron and Trypticon once more, we get a new ending screen:



Quote:
Originally Posted by Ending Screen
Magnus won the final battle. However, a new battle is beginning before your eyes!

Go, Rodimus!

Attack! RODIMUS COMVOY!


During the final battle in the original Transformers film, impetuous youth Hot Rod obtains the Matrix, and unleashes its power to destroy the planet-eating god-bot Unicron. In doing so, he transforms from Hot Rod into Rodimus Prime, the new Autobot leader. The N/M mistake there is common to the Japanese language. The language has only one full-consonant letter, which translates to the sound "N." Sometimes, this is used as a substitute for "M" in a foreign word, which results in mistransliterations like this.
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  #73  
Old 09-14-2018, 09:38 AM
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Hot Rod was one of several new characters introduced in the 1986 film, voiced by then-young hotness Judd Nelson. He's pretty much Luke Skywalker.



A toy of his Matrix-modified form, Rodimus, was also released the same year. Note how his bio doesn't explicitly name him as Autobot leader, possibly to avoid movie spoilers. In the third season, Rodimus was portrayed as a faulty leader, constantly making mistakes and living in the shadow of Optimus Prime's memory.







Following the ending screen, the game returns to Stage 1, with Ultra Magnus' sprite swapped out for Rodimus Prime's. Or, sort of. His robot mode graphic is exactly just a palette-swapped Magnus.



His vehicle mode, however, is clearly drawn as Rodimus' infamous "Winnebago of doom." Otherwise, the game proceeds as it did during the first loop (perhaps the difficulty increases - I haven't investigated that far).





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Old 09-14-2018, 09:42 AM
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And that's it for Mystery of Convoy!

This game, like I've said, has an absolutely miserable reputation. I think most of that comes from its front-loaded difficulty, as once you get into the game's groove, it's actually pretty fun to play! Plus, I find it interesting to look at how these levels are designed and consider some of the thoughts that went into them (or didn't).

This was definitely the sort of cash-grab tie-in game that was made quickly on a small budget, but if you peek into the cracks, you can start to see how some of the designers were trying to design something fun.

And even the legendary difficulty isn't such a great hurdle once you realize that you can continue infinitely, and once you clear a stage and reach the boss, you never have to clear it again. Even picking up all the RODIMUS letters isn't that big of a hassle.

I'll finish by saying thank you so much for reading. This was my first-ever true LP and I had a great time figuring out how to screencap and make gifs. If you never give this game a chance, I hope I at least made you laugh a few times with my silly photos.

One other thing: this game actually had a sequel! Transformers: The Headmasters was released for the Famicom Disk System in 1987. It plays similarly to Mystery of Convoy, but it has things like multiple playable characters and life meters. It's also got far less web coverage than its older brother, so it's on my list to purchase and play sometime in the future. Maybe I'll even LP it someday! We'll see!

'Til All Are One!
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Old 09-14-2018, 09:53 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sensenic View Post
Hmmm, seeing that the map comes with the game's manual... that strikes me as a sort of copy protection (or rather, re-sale protection?), no? Like those puzzles back in the day that required checking the feelies that came with it for solution, of MG2's frequency in the back of the box.
I should mention that the thing where Perceptor sees a map in the manual is a jape. There is no such map. You are expected to navigate Stage 9 using your wits and desperation alone. (The map in the manual is just a general layout of all 10 stages)
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  #76  
Old 09-14-2018, 10:38 AM
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The game looks kinda bad, but I'll happily read your toy comics in any context.

I'm curious if Rodimus has his own ending, but not curious enough to make you play through the game again.
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Old 09-14-2018, 12:35 PM
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  #78  
Old 09-15-2018, 03:40 AM
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This was a fun and interesting LP. Donít think Iíll be rushing out to buy the game, but I enjoyed reading about it. Thanks for doing it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dracula View Post
I should mention that the thing where Perceptor sees a map in the manual is a jape. There is no such map. You are expected to navigate Stage 9 using your wits and desperation alone. (The map in the manual is just a general layout of all 10 stages)
Have you tried looking at the manual through red plastic?
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Old 09-15-2018, 03:41 AM
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In the end, it truly was... a Mystery of Convoy.
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Old 09-15-2018, 11:34 AM
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That's Rodimus Prime? He looks so unimpressive compared to Ultra Magnus's "Ersatz Optimus" design, like he should be an errand boy or something. I can see why the post-movie season made him such a fuckup.
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Old 09-15-2018, 09:57 PM
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It's true that Rodimus doesn't look or act the part.

Personally I think it's pretty interesting when a character who "doesn't fit the bill" has to fill the shoes of a legend. Props to the G1 writers for at least walking with this concept instead of just making Rodimus a carbon copy of OP, as nearly every non-Optimus leader in TF stories tend to be. The most well-regarded TF series tend to be the ones where the Optimus character shows some nuance.

There's precious few instances where the Autobot leader doesn't take his design cues directly from the Optimus well, which is another reason I enjoy this part of the TF mythos.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Yimothy View Post
Have you tried looking at the manual through red plastic?
..........man that would have been a great gimmick, actually

Although I don't think the Japanese version of the toyline used the red plastic things.
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  #82  
Old 09-16-2018, 05:34 AM
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Thanks for the Let's Play. It was a lot of fun and I learned that the Mystery of Convoy was that no one bothered to release the film in Japan.

I'm curious why they ended with Romaji (or is it Hepburn, I don't really know the difference) as opposed to Japanese lettering.
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Old 09-16-2018, 09:34 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Johnny Unusual View Post
I'm curious why they ended with Romaji (or is it Hepburn, I don't really know the difference) as opposed to Japanese lettering.
Many Famicom games use Romaji just because it's less burden on the system's limited memory. However even then, most FC games with Romaji also use English words (for better or for worse). I'm sure there are others, but right now I can't think of a second FC game where they wrote Japanese text in English letters.
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Old 09-16-2018, 01:43 PM
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JWTS that I hardly ever manage to find time to read LPs these days, but I stuck with this one all the way through and it was entertaining and educational. Thanks Drac!
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Old 09-17-2018, 05:41 AM
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Thanks for this LP, Drac, it was really great.

As Mogri put it:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mogri View Post
The game looks kinda bad, but I'll happily read your toy comics in any context.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dracula View Post
I should mention that the thing where Perceptor sees a map in the manual is a jape. There is no such map. You are expected to navigate Stage 9 using your wits and desperation alone. (The map in the manual is just a general layout of all 10 stages)
Oooh, I failed to notice that! Thx for the clarification.
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Old 09-17-2018, 06:58 AM
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Thanks again folks, I'm glad it was fun for all involved.
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Old 09-17-2018, 07:02 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dracula View Post
Thanks again folks, I'm glad it was fun for all involved.
I'm p. sure that Megatron didn't have fun, and I've had just about enough of your Decepticon erasure.
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  #88  
Old 09-17-2018, 07:07 AM
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Well, I enjoyed this LP immensely. I'm really appreciative of a take on a maligned game that isn't "lol this game suxors" and instead tries to find the nuance.

Also the comics are so good. I love Little Drac and Skelly and I hope they never die.
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Old 09-17-2018, 09:06 AM
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Thanks for the LP Dracula!
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Old 09-18-2018, 03:23 PM
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Location: Kissimmee, FL
Pronouns: He/Him/His
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Originally Posted by Dracula View Post
It's true that Rodimus doesn't look or act the part.

Personally I think it's pretty interesting when a character who "doesn't fit the bill" has to fill the shoes of a legend. Props to the G1 writers for at least walking with this concept instead of just making Rodimus a carbon copy of OP, as nearly every non-Optimus leader in TF stories tend to be. The most well-regarded TF series tend to be the ones where the Optimus character shows some nuance.

There's precious few instances where the Autobot leader doesn't take his design cues directly from the Optimus well, which is another reason I enjoy this part of the TF mythos.
Oh yes, I certainly agree. Rodimus may look like he should be Ultra Magnus's errand boy, but it's neat that Transformers once had an Optimus Prime replacement who didn't look or act like a clone of the big man.

Speaking of, you got an intricately detailed big fig of ol' Convoy himself?
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i saw the sine , lets play , mystery of comvoy , transformers

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