I didn’t know how to fit this into the episode so I just have to say it here. The cartridge of this game actually misspells its own name. The name is written Mystery of Comvoy, instead of Convoy. You may think this is one of those translation oddities like with Ls and Rs in Japanese but nope! The Japanese language title has it right but the English is clearly different. Also, Convoy is an actual thing in Transformers (although from what I can tell, doesn’t have anything to do with this game…) while Comvoy is not. I enjoyed that little tidbit!
When I started doing this episode, I was actually going to talk about a different Transformers game but while searching for Famicom Transformers games, this one kept coming up and I decided to switch focus. It’s just such a bizarre story, isn’t it? A game made to cover up a plot hole that only existed because something wasn’t localized. I’m sure it has happened before and I know localization issues have caused franchises to branch off in the past but I can’t think of anything quite as extreme as this.
4/25 – The Transformers: Mystery of Convoy
Hello and welcome. My name is Katosepe and I’ll be your host for today’s Video Game of the Day.
When a media franchise spans TV shows, movies, comics, games and more, it can be a nightmare localizing all of those stories into other languages. Sometimes, things get missed, even when they may be important to the overall story. Today’s game is the result of such an oversight. Today’s game is The Transformers: Mystery of Convoy, released in 1986 for the Famicom.
Whether you are a fan of the classic cartoons or the Michael Bay blockbusters, most people these days are familiar with the Transformers, robots which can change into vehicles. While the popular series was a joint venture between the Japanese company Takara and the American company Hasbro, the animated series was made in the US. Between the second and third seasons of the series, a movie was made called The Transformers: The Movie, in which Optimus Prime, the leader of the Autobots, dies and hands off his mantle to his second in command, Ultra Magnus.
When Japan was about to start airing Season 3, they had not received this movie yet so, in order to fill the gap, Japanese developer ISCO created The Transformers: Mystery of Convoy to explain why Optimus Prime was no longer the leader of the Autobots.
Players play as Ultra Magnus, venturing through Decepticon bases in order to try and find Optimus Prime. Ultra Magnus can shoot enemies while in robot form as well as transform into a car carrier in order to avoid attacks or travel through smaller areas. Oddly enough, the game’s bosses are not typically Decepticons but are instead floating Decepticon symbols with different colors which Ultra Magnus must defeat. By the end, Ultra Magnus must defeat Megatron before then fighting a lesser known villain named Trypticon in English. Throughout the game, items can be picked up which spell the word Rodimus. If the player collects all the letters, they can play as Rodimus Prime, the leader version of Hot Rod.
Mystery of Convoy was criticised as being incredibly difficult with one-hit deaths and only three lives with zero continues. This along with the unnecessary storyline is likely why it was never localized outside of Japan, even when it was re-released on the Wii Virtual Console in 2008. Western gamers may still recognize the game if they follow the popular Youtuber, the Angry Video Game Nerd, who featured Transformers: Mystery of Convoy in a 2009 episode of his show.
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