An early horizontal shoot 'em up from Sega, released as part of a wave of first-party software for their new console, the SG-1000 Mark III (or Sega Master System). Along with Satellite 7, it was developed so that players could play the then-popular shoot 'em up genre, of which Sega was a known developer, at home.
With early arcade titles from Sega like Fantasy Zone, the company earned some recognition for their ability to make fun space shoot-em-up games that played well and were appealing to both the eyes and ears. Sega began tinkering around with the genre using the idea of luck and timing based power-up acquisition mechanics. Deciding to stay away from the charming dayglo atmosphere of Fantasy Zone, they instead went for a more intense and gritty dystopian future which called for an elevation in difficulty compared to most shoot-em-up games. The end result was TransBot.
TransBot was originally released in Japan in late 1985, a couple of months after the Sega Master System (then still known as the SG-1000 Mark III) was launched. It is known as Astro Flash in that territory. It would later be released in both the US and Europe the following year with the name TransBot (sometimes styled as Transbot) with two versions: one that used the card-based format, and one that used the newer cartridge-based format. The game was also released in Brazil by Tec Toy, and this version was named Nuclear Creature.
In 1987 Sega released the game to Arcades with a graphical improvement and the ability to switch between the robot and jet forms whenever the player wished (usually, the robot form only appeared once certain power-ups had been attained). This version was called Transformer in the US.
It is the Solar year 2000. The Nuclear War has just ended and civilization is striving to restore what was lost as a result of the conflict. The civilians left their underground fallout shelters and began to rebuild a new world atop the ashes of the war marred past. With new communities and even technological breakthroughs in transportation technology, the Nuclear War survivors began to prosper once more.
However, unbeknownst to the people, there is evil looming in the air. Dalaus, an artificial intelligence super computer has also survived the Nuclear War. Dalaus was used and programmed with the sole purpose of destroying anything and everything. In the time the survivors spent rebuilding Dalaus had built up an entire subterranean empire and an invasion army ready to destroy the survivors once and for all. The survivors were caught off guard and didn't stand a chance as Dalaus' army ripped through the many metropolises that the people worked so hard and so passionately to rebuild.
The defense force is a fleet of CA-214 models, which are sophisticated astro-planes capable of transforming into a humanoid battle mech. With universal munitions applications, it would seem that the survivors would have defeated the Dalaus invasion. However, Dalaus had corrupted many of those who had been placed in military positions by the survivors. They destroyed nearly every single CA-214 and assassinated nearly every pilot for the ships. Only one pilot survives and manages to escape with his life and his CA-214 or TransBot.
The game TransBot is a side scrolling space shooter. The player controls the TransBot and shoots incoming enemies on the right. The directional pad of the Sega Controller moves the player's TransBot in all directions. Button 2 is used to fire whatever weapon the TransBot has currently equipped. Button 1 selects what weapon to use after the munitions select mechanic is started. The most noteworthy mechanic in TransBot is the munitions section sub-screen. To initiate this mechanic the player must first come across one of Dalaus' munitions trucks. By destroying the truck and collecting the question mark icon the player now can pick one of eight weapon types. The weapon sub screen begins a minigame process where it cycles through the letters A to H (A to F indicates various weapons and G is an ammunition power-up) in a roulette fashion. It tends to cycle though these letters quick, so paying attention to what weapon is being selected while fighting an onslaught of enemies in real time can be quite a challenge. The player will most likely find themselves maneuvering all over the screen in order to avoid enemy collision rather than just sitting put or even just moving up and down.
The enemies do not necessarily use AI, but they do maneuver about the screen in formation patterns that are selected at random. There are special parts in TransBot where the player can enter Dalaus' subterranean lair, which is one of the two major environments in the game including the planet's surface. The health system is interesting because it does not follow the pre-established conventions of the space shooter genre. Usually if one gets hit once or even twice the player loses a life. However, TransBot changes that with a life meter with several notches. Once the health bar's indication needle hits the far left end of the bar the player's ship is destroyed, resulting in a lost life. The player starts with three lives, and the game is over when all the lives are exhuasted. The player can gain an extra by first obtaining 40,000 points and every extra life after that requires another 80,000 points every time. The same system is put into effect for the weapon ammunition aspect of the game. When using the Normal Fire weapon mode, the player has unlimited ammunition because that is the native weapon of the CA-214. However, when the player acquires a new weapon the player is met with a limited supply of ammunition for that particular weapon. Once the ammunition supply for that weapon is exhausted the CA-214's primary reverts back the Normal Fire mode.
Though TransBot came out exclusively for the Sega Master System, there are two different releases on this one title. TransBot came out on a Sega Mega Cartridge as well as a Sega Game Card. The only significant difference between the two formats is that the Sega Game Card version does not contain an ending or resolution of any kind and just plays on forever. However, with the Mega Cartridge release of TransBot, the game does have an ending and closes out with a resolution. However, The Sega Card version of TransBot was the more popular as it was cheaper and yet the graphical and audio quality was equal the the Mega Cartridge version.
- A-Normal-Fire: The original weapon configuration of the CA-214 which behaves like a machine gun.
- B-Beam: Shoots a ring-like beam of energy.
- C-Sword Fire: Hurls a blade-like beam of energy that can destroy multiple foes.
- D-Cannon: Energy cannon that uses particle projection technology.
- E-Diffusion-Beam: Energy weapon that fires in a spread fire fashion.
- F-Two-Direction-Fire: Fires two shells in either direction.
- G-Power-up-Attack: Replenishes ammunition supply.
Enemies and Point Values
- Arm Carrier – 1,000 Points
- Luvogue – 120 Points
- Psyball – 100 Points
- Elblink – 120 Points
- Bifler (Quick) – 100 Points
- Bifler (Slow) – 80 Points
- Alapot – 120 Points
- Ascule – 120 Points
- Zelnuc – 200 Points
- Gelpaar – 180 Points
- Boasite – 240 Points
- Gealmea – 240 Points
- Hilun – 500 Points
- Barrier – 400 Points
- Elgramzon- 20,000 Points
World Record Attempts
The first officially verified world record for first place high score was recognized on June 11th of 2004. It was 66,000 points and was held by James Carter and was globally recognized through the Twin Galaxies International Scoreboard. However, Jon Rivera had made many attempts to attain the world record and achieve a higher score. He had recorded a record winning game of 502,040 points in one play session of TransBot. Jon Rivera's record winning score was approved on September 9th of 2009 and is now the official first place high score. This record was approved by Nik Meeks, a referee of the Twin Galaxies Scoreboard.