Transformers is the elephant in our particular room, an elephant composed of a million billion shiny, sinister mechanisms. To the man or woman who tames the beast, exposing its secrets to the world, shall be awarded mighty web traffic increases, as legions of fans around the internet focus their adoration.
Is OXM reader SidTheSloth that heroic individual? He's certainly put the hours in, as the below history of Transformers in videogames makes plain. Read on for details of how the forthcoming Transformers: Fall of Cybertron succeeds where earlier Transformers outings failed, and if you've got a hobby horse of your own you're eager to flaunt, by all means message an article idea to "OXM ETboy".
The Eighties. The glam rock loving era of the weird and wonderful. Calvin Harris may feel differently, but not everything was acceptable back then. The good news though is that for every Dynasty, T'pau & David Hasselhoff, we had an A-Team, Guns & Roses and (ahem) Knight Rider...
It wasn't just Mom and Dad who were enjoying themselves, though. It was also the golden age of '80s kids TV. He-Man, The Smurfs, GI Joe, Thundercats and even the (Teenage Mutant Hero/Ninja) Turtles - all were fantastic, but the pinnacle was reached for me and many others, with Transformers. Giant robots that could transform and disguise themselves as almost anything mechanical - forget spelling tests and multiplication tables, respect was earned by knowing your Cybertron from your Cybertonium, with bonus points awarded if you could name all five Stunticons!
Like many a good thing, the show sadly became a victim of its own success. Interfering old folk, or grown-ups as they may ironically have been known, took the franchise's direction to task. The grim, darker approach introduced with Transformers: The Movie marked the beginning of the end. While the movie was well received by fans at the time (and continues to hold cult status), the death of series regulars - not to mention legendary Autobot leader Optimus Prime - ensured that the third season started with a host of unfamiliar faces. A Mass-Effect-3-esque fan backlash saw the resurrection of Optimus at the end of the third series, but unfortunately the damage had been done and funding was cut following a three-part fourth series.
That was 1987. Skip forward to the present day, and the Transformers brand has been rebooted and diluted so many times that fans are generally beyond caring. Initial hope was replaced by scepticism in 2006 when it was announced messrs Spielberg and Bay would combine forces to produce a live action Transformers movie. On release the film was considered a commercial success, with solid returns guaranteeing a host of sequels. Whilst the films by and large entertained, they ignored the core ideology established in the earlier (and in this respect, better) TV show, and thus failed to fully awaken the wonderful nostalgic memories so many of us have buried away. In fairness, the films did try to embrace old die-hards - recruiting Peter Cullen to reprise his role as the voice of Optimus Prime was a masterstroke, as was including familiar names such as Bumblebee and Ironhide. But that familiarity bred only contempt when long term fans found little else to fixate on beyond Megan Fox's sculpted abdomen.
Transformers videogames haven't always exactly dazzled, either. There was a decent outing on the PS2, but this focused on one of the obscure reboots and as such failed to shine or grab the bulk of fans. Since then publisher Activision has passed the license around like a hot potato, with the first two films releasing alongside video game tie-ins that all but wore a "Bargain Bin" sticker when they left the factory. It's practically become a fact of life that franchise tie-ins fail, time and time again - players expect them to be rubbish, and publishers are aware of this, so they make sure to spend as little as possible, hoping some gullible fool (read: parent) will buy the thing because little Jimmy enjoyed the film so much.