LGR – Challenge of the Gobots – C64, Spectrum, CPC Game Review

[theme music] [roar] [sip] Aahhh! [typing] [gunshot] When I say “transforming robots,”
what comes to mind? Probably Transformers. Optimus Prime, Megatron, robots in disguise. But at the same time Hasbro was starting the process of rebranding Japan’s Diaclone and Microman toys, Tonka started rebranding the [Machine] Robo toys, calling them Gobots. They even had their own TV series with these unbelievably creative theme song lyrics: “The Gobots! The Gobots!” But the Gobots soon became Stopbots as they were quickly overshadowed
by Hasbro’s Transformers toys. By 1987, they were discontinued
and delegated to the bargain bins barely remembered as the poor man’s Transformers. Ah, but wouldn’t you know it,
the same year the toys were discontinued, there was a home video game
created for the series released in Europe, named after the TV show “Challenge of the Gobots,” for the Commodore 64, Sinclair Spectrum and Amstrad CPC– which I don’t have, but here’s a head crab. [shriek] And I can’t find much information
on the game at all online, other than a couple of old reviews and magazine ads. Whatever the case, it does exist,
being published by Reaktor and designed by Tony Crowther and Ross Goodley. And yes, that is Antony Crowther, who is basically a legend among
Commodore 64 game designers, known for his efficiently-made,
creative and enjoyable games with awesome graphics and sound. Games like Blagger, Loco and Monty Mole. Apparently these guys also had a sense of humor, as evident by the packaging blurbs. “Guide Leader-1 on his most daring mission yet.” “You must stop the evil Gog from destroying
your friends on the planet Mobeius.” “If you fail, not only will your chums
meet a death worse than fate itself but the earth will be invaded
by lots of horrible green things with an enormous appetite for scooters.” “Can you save the world?” “Can you load the game?” [laughs] That last one, I really don’t know! Special features include really ugly enemies and an incredibly smug hero. This sounds like it could be on the back
of a Duke Nukem or Serious Sam game. The snarky remarks continue in the instruction booklet. I especially love this part where
they’re describing the enemies. “It is at this point that I could present to you with
an impressive table of baddies and their points.” “What is the point I ask you, when
you will no doubt see them in the game and kill them regardless of point value.” That’s a good point, actually. I probably wouldn’t read it even it was here. So the package itself is full of win,
but what about the game? Let’s take a look at the Spectrum version first. You’ll notice there are two tapes in the package. The first one contains the game on one side and a digital Gobots book on the other. Loading this gives you a GUI screen with the ability to read the comic book-style story of the Gobots and… whatever they do. This is totally unnecessary to the
game itself, but it’s a really cool addition and is easily one of the earliest
e-books that I’m a aware of, at least to come with a game. The second cassette contains another unique addition: an audio cassette titled
“The Challenge” by Robert Schroeder, and it’s surprisingly awesome. NARRATOR:
The commander of Leader-1 is you. [’80s synth music] The destiny of the free world is now in your hands. Let battle begin. [synth music continues] Enough mid-’80s rad, let’s get to the game itself. After several minutes of loading, staring at the disappointingly bland loading screens, you’re greeted with animated menu
text and some rather awesome music, at least on the 128, as the 48K Spectrum has no music. But it’s the same thing otherwise. You can then customize the game’s keys, change the settings or start the game. Just press Fire to start and
you take control of Leader-1 and are dropped onto planet Mobius. presumably to save your chums from
a horrid death and save the scooters. But, um… Ah… Well… Now that– Well… that wasn’t fun at all. After tweaking some of the settings a bit,
I was able to control things a little better and actually play for a few minutes. As you’ll notice, the game is
a horizontal shooter of sorts. Similar to games like Defender and
Chopper Command, at least on the surface. But the biggest difference between those
games and this one is the gravity system. You see, there are two bits of land to the level, both on the bottom and the top of the screen. Gravity is in effect by default, so you’re constantly being
dragged toward either the top or the bottom of the screen,
depending on which you’re closer to. And the very middle being the… middle… where you, yeah, gravity… is… yeah. Once you get close enough to land,
you’ll transform into a walking robot, either upside down or right-side up, and you can pick up boulders from
the ground and use them as weapons. And while you’re in the air,
you can shoot lasers any time. However, you can only kill most of the
regular enemies with the rocks or lasers, and the entire goal of the game is to
destroy these white bases which look like igloos or eyeballs or the Technodrome. But in order to destroy these,
you’ll have to pick up the scooters and drop them like bombs onto the bases. So, wait, you’re supposed to be saving these scooters from the alien menace or whatever, right? But in order to save them, you have to destroy them. That’s some screwed-up cult logic if I’ve ever heard it. That’d be like throwing the
humans at the UFOs in Defender. Whatever the case, once you destroy all the
bases on the level, you move on to the next, which looks almost exactly
the same as the previous level, and you do it all over again. Personally, I can’t make myself do
this for more than a few minutes for a couple of reasons. First, the controls. They’re just friggin’ awful. Moving left and right is just a huge chore, simply because of the way you have
to make Leader-1 change directions. Like if you’re on the ground,
you can only shoot in one direction unless you go up and land again. Otherwise, you’ll just be moonwalking. You have to go up into the air and
try to turn and it’s just awkward. It’s made even worse by the way the screen scrolls. You basically have to be on
one side of the screen to move and then wait for the rest of the
screen to catch up and move with you, effectively freezing you in one spot
until the screen is ready for you. This is infuriating when you’re trying
to double back and bomb a base or outmaneuver an enemy. And even with the settings tweaked way down, it’s just too twitchy to be enjoyable for me. In fact, it made me sick. As in I actually got motion sickness
playing this version of the game. Not to mention the bland color palette really makes it tough to see what’s
going on at those higher speeds. Most everything is green and blocky and it’s often easy to bump into something that will instakill you, and that’s made even more annoying
due to the incomplete hit detection. Sometimes it’s fine, other times you’ll just be killed
for being different, I guess. It’s just a bunch of little stuff and
it adds up to an annoying experience. Right, so let’s move on to the Amstrad CPC version. Oh, it’s almost the exact same thing.
It’s still got the same menu and cool music and it sounds quite nice. There are the obvious additional colors which make things easier to see
and more pleasant to look at, and for some reason it’s slower from the get-go. And that’s nothing but a good thing. Even at default settings, I find this version to
be much more playable than on the Specky. It’s less choppy and it’s easier to see
where you’re going and what’s going on. The collision detection seems
to be improved somewhat, and the weird screen scrolling is still there, but it’s not nearly as bad as on the Spectrum. It’s still rather annoying to change directions, though, and it still takes some serious getting used to, but I found it to be more
approachable than the Spectrum port. So, yeah, between the Spectrum and the
Amstrad, there’s no doubt the latter wins. Of course, that’s like saying “Which pile
of crap would you like to eat today?” I’d rather not eat either one, thank you very much. Finally, there’s the Commodore 64 game, which it was initially developed for, to my knowledge, known here by its full name “Challenge
of the Gobots on the Mobius Strip.” It has a slightly different menu and
there’s no mention of the settings this time, although you can still get to
them by pressing F1 and F3. And of course, it probably has the
best version of the in-game music, since it’s the excellent SID chip driving it. Once in the game, it’s pretty much exactly
what you’ve come to expect by now. Shoot stuff, don’t die, don’t throw up, etc. The controls are thankfully spot on with this version and the animation and screen scrolling is very smooth. It’s still incredibly tough to control due to how ridiculously twitchy
and fast the game can be, but it really is all about taking your time. At least in this version when you die,
it’s pretty much your own fault and not screwed-up collision detection
or because you can’t see what’s what. So on the whole, I would say this
is the best version of the game. But does that mean that it’s any good? Well, I don’t know about that. This is aggravating because I do want to
enjoy this game and I want to recommend it. It’s got serious personality in
the packaging and instructions; it’s got cool music, both in the
game and on the audio cassette; it’s got a freaking virtual book to read; it’s made by Tony Crowther and it’s freaking Gobots, the bizarre underdogs of the transforming robot world. But I really can’t recommend it wholeheartedly because it’s simply a pain to play. It’s too fast and twitchy for its own good, even in its C64 form. And beyond that, it’s just not very fun for very long. Yeah, you can get used to all the
quirks and the weird stuff about it, but for whatever reason I just don’t care to. The gameplay just falls flat. So, Challenge of the Gobots is a game I’d only recommend to hardcore collectors of games or hardcore collectors of Gobots merchandise, if such a creature actually exists. [electronic music plays to the end]

100 thoughts on “LGR – Challenge of the Gobots – C64, Spectrum, CPC Game Review

  1. i saw both Transformers and the Gobots, but because there where never any Gobot toys available around here it was Transformers all the way for me.

    but the VHS movies where great.

  2. @ThomasGGebert Correct, no CPC. I was actually forced to use emulation for all of the footage this time. My computer with the video capturing devices is dead, so I couldn't even use my real machines for these!

  3. 48k no music? You sure? Didn't it have a beeper?
    Or was this game designed for the 128k ones (maybe incompatible with the new sound systems in later spectrums)?

  4. @R33Racer The 48k is *capable* of music, just not with this game. Gobots was created for the 128 in mind and took advantage of its enhanced sound, same game on the 48k it just didn't have music.

  5. @UKRetroGames It really is impressively lackluster, especially considering the game pedigree of Tony Crowther! I mean, several of his titles are near-legendary yet here comes Gobots. In fact, in some of the lists of his games that I've seen, Gobots is omitted entirely. I just *had* to dig it up from the grave to put its charred remains on display again!

  6. @Bakemon13 The audio tape "The Challenge", yes. It's basically a special companion soundtrack to this game. If you were to play the game tape in a Walkman or stereo all you'll hear is the data… which is some of the worst, most grating noise you'll ever hear and you'll possiby go deaf.

  7. this was a good review. very tight and lols. i love that you have a firm grasp of the sound capabilities of the things you review too. it is an under-appreciated aspect that most people just gloss over.

  8. I was wondering if you'd ever do the Turrican series? It's possibly one of the best action platformers for both the C64 and Amiga. The music is pure bliss too.

  9. @ImperialProductions Ah, I got confused which video you were referring to, my bad! The music at the end of this video comes from "The Challenge" cassette tape for this game. I'll post a download link to an MP3 in the video description!

  10. @rippthepunk It's actually a hat πŸ˜€

    You can get them on the Valve online store. At least, you could a couple years ago when I got mine!

  11. Wow, having 2 cassettes like that with the extra features and music and awesome is seriously really really cool. Too bad the game isn't so great. lol I kind of like the game's idea, it looks like it should be fun, but just didn't turn out that way. Sorry about the motion sickness, thanks for taking one for the team and getting this review out despite it. πŸ™‚

  12. @Fuzzy192006 Heh that's actually what Lazy Game Reviews was originally. See the first LGR vids (Animal Games, Space Invaders Games etc) and that's the idea: a short look at a game and some thoughts on it before moving onto the next. It evolved into what I do now & I enjoy it more. I like showing more history & detail but also remaining rather concise – ie., not a walkthrough. The "X games in X minutes" genre is being done by others & it can be rather enjoyable. Thanks for the input though!

  13. @phreakindee you can still get the Headcrab hat from the Valve Store. Just Google "valve store headcrab" (don't copy the parentheses); the link should be the 3rd option on the list of results.

  14. I've come across a few gobot toys during my toy searches…however I had no knowledge of the the television series. Thanks for that bit of info on top of explaining the game that is based on the show.

  15. 5:24 "So you're supposed to destroy them in order to save them. That's some screwed up cult logic right there."

    That's some (Mass Effect) Reaper logic right there! πŸ˜€

  16. Thanks for linking to the tape recording, it's the most gloriously cheesy thing I've heard in a long time xD

  17. lmfao – 3:05 that retro music actually sounded pretty cool! lol!!!
    who was the girl on that photo? ;D lol

  18. do you mind if I use a soundbite of "for the commodore 64, Sinclair Spectrum, and Amstrad CPC… which I don't have but here's a headcrab *headcrab noise*"? I'm doing something similar to Freeman's mind, if I ever get around to it..

  19. Sweet Goddess, I had to reload because Shockwave Flash crashed, and this showed up. You work fast. xD

  20. You're right about Gobots: The Challenge being awesome. Listened to the full thing (well, at least side a) recently, and it's amazing. Thanks for directing me toward that classic.

  21. Is it sad that I actually remember the well we call them Machine Men in Australia, I actually preferred them to the Transformers. It was Machine Men aka Go Bots, then Voltron (84-85), then Transformers (86/87), then Robotech or Robo and Transformers came around the same time. Apart from She-ra not many girly cartoons in the mid to late 80s. Man I am old.

  22. Go Bot toys were also shitty quality and far less interesting in their transformations compared to Transformers.

  23. I want an bumper sticker to stick on my pc and i want an headcrab, on my way to find an headcrab

  24. "Or hardcore collectors of GO-BOTS merchandise, if such a creature actually exists."

    They do, man, and they are a weird bunch.

  25. The scrolling issues are entirely caused by each computer platform's technical specs. The C64 not only had superior music but decent programmers could do wonders with it. The Spectrum and Amstrad never had full screen scrolling while on the C64 shoot em ups, this became a requirement. Too bad I don't like shoot em ups that much.

  26. That "gobots" logo looks so much like the cartoon series logo from "he-man and the masters of the universe"! coincidence? rip-off?

  27. People dont know the true history of go-bots!
    Go-bots when it first came out BLEW AWAY transformers!
    Think about it, Go-bots came out first, was more clever, and had ideas that transformers later stole. Go-Bots had epic fight scenes, (not to mention Couragous, who makes optimus-fat cab prime look like a baby stroller!) epic music, and better character design than transformers. (Ironhide sounds like an old man's name, yet hes a war-monger who turns into a hippie van?) And fyi, the "friends" you are destroing here are RENEGADE ENEMIES. BAD GUYS. This game came out way before TF:Convoy no nazo, and it look JUST as fun, but at least THIS game has some clever programing! Transformers were always the unoriginal ripoff, just the same show with an unclever title, "Transformers" oh gee, so clever, things that transform. Go-Bots blew away transformers in its debut, but one thing gave transformers the head start it used to destroy gobots, mighty orbots, Tranzor-Z and every other lost show. Their movies. The Go-bots movie being about ROCKS…while the Transformers movie was about a giant planet. This gave transformers a head start it used to redefine the series, making it more like go-bots, and in the process, eliminating a need for Go-bots. Go-bots werent "Poor man's transformers" they were "Less pointlessly overpriced toys that some other company ripped off" I should also point out that the toyline that go-bots stole, Machine robo, had ITS OWN CARTOON before both OF THESE GUYS. "Machine Robo – Revenge of Chronos" is the REAL original.

  28. +Lazy Game Reviews Is there such a thing as a Go-Bots/Robo Machine Collector? Well, were they affordable now (they fetch a tonne on ebay) yes… I would!

    While Transformers are the BEST and always will be, I still have a special place in my heart for Robo Machines… Mainly as they featured some vehicles that Transformers have NEVER DONE!!!

    Among them, Royal-T – A Harrier Jump Jet, there was also the Harley Davidson Motor Cycle which was so cool!!!

    The biggest issues for Go-Bots/Robo Machines was actually scale and price – Many of the Characters were just so out of scale it was ridiculous (OK! Yes, Megatron in G1 was a GIANT FREAKING GUN!!! but still…) and for a budget line product, they were damn expensive!

    Transformers Mini-Autobots such as Bumblebee were high priced at a Fiver (Β£5) in UK money… But Robo Machines as they were called here were only a single note cheaper!!! If you were lucky, you may see them in sales for Β£1.99… But most of the best ones were almost the same price as Transformers which were better in every way!!!

    Still, there is some love left for that cheesy line… If only for the ones that did not get a proper Hasbro edition… Would I want the game too? HELL NO!!!

  29. fun fact : in australia the gobots were called machine men , and they even changed the theme song to " mighty machine men , mighty robots " and the tag line was " now you see'em , now you dont "

  30. Does anybody know how to throw bombs in this game? I can't figure out how to do it, I can only shoot lasers πŸ™

  31. Mobeius? Is this a Sonic game? Also, Gog? Isn't The main villain supposed to be Cy-kill? Enormous appetite for Scooters? Good, Scooter was so anoying.

  32. Go-Bots were always one of my absolute favorite toys/cartoons! When I was a kid I had a bunch of the toys and I definitely remember watching the cartoon as much as humanly possible. I was really surprised and happy to see that there was a computer game! Great review! Thanks LGR!

  33. Go-bots were much smaller, and therefore easier to take to school.Β  So, that made them cool for a while, until the other kids started laughing at them when Transformers came out.Β  lolΒ  They're still cool to me, but this game looks terrible.

  34. Gobots is somehow way too unknown, i didn't even know there's actually one game about the Gobots. Only, ONE game about it.

  35. I never liked the Gobots when growing up in the 80s. I also thought of them as the cheap version of Transformers. I think I have a few comics of theirs but only because they came with a job lot I got in the 90s.

  36. I know that this is an old video, but I remember that there was a Cykill GoBots model that was released where it was a model of Yellow Dancer from the 3rd Generation of the Robotech series. The model was worth it just for the Robotech Cyclone that it was. Man, they were into just copying everything!

    And Leader-1 is an Alpha Fighter from the same Robotech series:


  37. I'm going to reach out across 7 years to acknowledge 'the gobots quickly became stopbots' – got a good laugh out of me πŸ™‚

  38. 'Can you save the world? Can you load the game?' There must be something in British DNA that just makes us destroy ourselves.

  39. My family had both Gobots and Transformers and the lion Voltron set. Unfortunately, my mom thought they were all Gobots. Mothers. What can you do?

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