It’s time to look at the recent online miniseries that came out. Unfortunately, it would be taking the old “5 minute episodes” tactic that rarely ever works out well. The main difference between this one and Pokemon Generations is that the episodes do combine to tell one self contained story. It does have a bit of a cliffhanger to lead into the next part of the trilogy though. It’s a pretty solid mini show that could have certainly benefited from having normal length episodes instead of mini ones, but was fairly decent for its limitations.
The plot takes place in the far future, which is a nice change of pace since most of the shows and movies all take place during the war between the Autobots and Decepticons. The comics have long since passed this part in history, but the shows and movies don’t seem to ever want to leave it. I guess it makes sense since that era had a lot of interesting characters and battles to look at, but the future arcs can be a blast too. Case in point, the plot in this series is actually very interesting and epic. The series itself just fails to completely utilize it.
Both sides are now working together since there aren’t Decepticons and Autobots anymore. Rodimus Prime, Starscream, and The Mistress of Flame are the three rulers now. They use Combiners to take any pockets of villain resistance left. The world still isn’t at peace and it probably never will be, but the situation isn’t half bad at this point. Unfortunately, that’s when the heroes get the bright idea to try and use a super special item to mind control all of the Combiners to have them serve as a personal army. This will take away their autonomy and it’ll serve as the ultimate counter to evil. How can this fail? Rodimus half heartedly advises against it, but is then for it later on. All three of the members go back and forth on the issue until someone ensures that the device is used. It’s like they always say, if you have a weapon, that means you intend to use it at some point.
Windblade knows about what is going on so she recruits Optimus Prime to help her end this. She wants to destroy the device and Prime is in agreement, although he isn’t thrilled about being called back into action. He’s in retirement and nobody likes him even though he fought for peace for many centuries. People blame him for the war and that just goes to show that the average Cybertronian isn’t much smarter than the average human. I can’t believe that Prime of all people would be turned into an outcast after the many sacrifices that he made for justice. It’s pretty unreal. Prime also realizes that the two of them against an army of combiners may be a bit unrealistic so they call in Megatron. Megatron’s enjoying his retirement at a Colosseum, but he’s certainly happy to help if it means messing up Starscream and the others.
Seeing Optimus Prime and Megatron team up was probably the biggest hype moment of the mini series. Unfortunately, there really weren’t any villains for them to fight by that point. They got to shoot at the giant Starscream and at a few Combiners, but I would have liked more of a tangible threat for them to be honest. The back and forth between the two rivals was always good though and we saw their battle experience first hand. You always get the sense that Megatron and Prime are head and shoulders above the rest of the robots. Prime’s retirement was definitely pretty iffy if you ask me and seemed like another hero giving up the Luke Skywalker way. It’s a stretch to imagine Prime just deciding to give up and let others wield the torch, but at least that won’t be a problem for the next two parts of the trilogy. Megatron was definitely in character the whole time though and I can definitely see him being a big villain again someday.
Rodimus Prime didn’t look all that smart though. I don’t know how everyone just decided that it would be a good idea to let Starscream on the tribunal. If you ask me…that’s just not a smart move. Even if he claims that he’s changed….it’s Starscream that we’re talking about. He’s the shadiest Decepticon of them all. Starscream’s definitely pretty solid though. He has a good plan and considered all of the angles. You definitely can’t say that he’s not one of the smartest bots out there.
Windblade was basically the main character and she was really good. It’s nice to see her as a hardcore assassin. Robots in Disguise tried to make her really cool as well and she is decent in that show, but this one goes a little more all out. She’ll remind you of Arcee from the Transformer comics. Windblade gets the job done and while she should not have won her fight against the Combiner, (Get ready for a lot of plot hax, but this show is full of that so you won’t be surprised by the end) Windblade is definitely a character who is easy to root for and I would certainly say that she is one of the better Transformers overall.
As expected, the characters and the plot are good. Now, where did the series fail? Well, the 5 minute episodes really ensure that the show can’t do much. Now only are the episodes only around 5 minutes long, but they really waste time. One episode will have someone flying for about a minute or another will just have people talking about nothing really important for a while. I feel like the show was trying to show off its animation, but since the graphics weren’t really anything to write home about…it didn’t work. Plus, time was a big factor here so the show needed to take it into consideration.
The graphics aren’t bad though and despite getting a lot of heat, I dare say that they even look great. They have the style of a PS2 game, but with modernized graphics. The colors really stand out and since it is night time for most of the series, the contrasts make for really good visuals. The energy attacks all look sharp as well and these are graphics that I grew up with to the extent where the designs look solid. It’s hard to describe, but the robots actually look strong and menacing instead of skinny and more unassuming. It can’t hold its own to a modern hand drawn anime or anything like that, but the CGI is really good. I can’t say that I really remember the soundtrack all that well though. It’s very forgettable and it’s the kind of fare that works well while you’re in the moment, but just barely. It covers its bases and that’s about it.
Combiner Wars does end on a really epic note though. The cliff hanger for part 2 is really intense since aliens may finally be showing up to make a move. That’s one aspect of Transformers that was never handled too well. Aliens showing up could be really awesome, but usually their designs aren’t great or they just don’t get to do much. A proper Transformers vs Aliens plot for the sequel could definitely be really cool. It would certainly make for a better fight than Prime and friends against Cosmic Giant. The final fight is a little underwhelming because the villain can barely move and the heroes can’t hurt him, which leads to an unfortunate stale mate. Some good visuals make it in there, but that’s about all that you can say for it.
Overall, Transformers: Combiner Wars is a pretty fun little show. Just treat it as a 30 minute OVA and it works well. The animation is solid and the fight scenes are a lot of fun aside from the last one. The plot is very engaging and the main character cast of Windblade, Prime, and Megatron is a good trio. It will also remind you of just how good the show could have been had it been full length though. Despite it being a series about Combiners, we didn’t get to see them do all that much here. There was simply no time since the series had to try and fit everybody in with the limited length. Hopefully the next part will either have more episodes or they will be able to extend the length of each episode. I think that would do wonders for the show. Still, I recommend it if you’re interested in the future timeline of Transformers, which is rarely explored.