Transformers: Titans Return Review


It’s time for the sequel to the first Transformers Machinima show. The first one had some really cool atmospheric presence and a unique setting, but was held back by the extremely short run time and how much of it was wasted on nothing happening. It was a glimpse at a part in Transformers lore that you wanted to see more of, but couldn’t since it ended so early. With this sequel we’re thrown back in there. There’s less mystery and suspense in this installment since the smoke has cleared and it’s clear who the enemies are again, but we do get more action than the first season and more of a plot as well. I’d say that it’s an improvement over the first although I’m hoping the final season focuses a little more on the core Autobots and Decepticons in favor of the larger bots.

The first season ended with Windblade announcing that the Titans had returned and this season continues that. Trypticon has been awoken and what’s more, Starscream is in the driver’s seat. He doesn’t keep control the whole time and only seems to pop in and out periodically but this is still a serious threat to the heroes. They are all still beat up and bruised from the last season so they haven’t had time to regroup. Metroplex and Windblade lead the offensive against him while the Combiners, Optimus Prime, and Fortress Maximum also prepare to join the fight. Meanwhile, Rodimus Prime has decided that he doesn’t want to be a prime anymore and goes off on his own. Megatron appears to be content to sit on the sidelines for a while and Overlord has popped up to take advantage of the situation. Quite a lot of plot lines are occurring here.

Optimus Prime looks pretty good as always. He’s on top of the situation pretty quickly and does his best to contribute in the fight. He’s a little outranked by the sheer size and power of the Trypticon, but still gets his hits in. He’s definitely portrayed as being the strongest normal size bot with Megatron being his only equal. I’m hoping he gets at least one big fight in the next season. Hot Rod unfortunately looks really bad. This is currently Cybertron’s darkest hour and he decides to get rid of the Matrix now? He doesn’t even tell anybody about it. As Hot Rod he can’t fight that well and is taken down pretty quickly. Maybe he had more fun, but it definitely does come across as incredibly selfish. Not really a cool thing to do.

Megatron seems like he’ll have a really big role in the next season since he is crucial to both the Overlord plot as well as the Megatronus one. They may even be playing him up as a temporary leader to the heroes which is sure to have a lot of the other bots riled up. He’s pretty great as per usual and I’m ready to see him fight on. Overlord hasn’t done a whole lot yet, but the show has portrayed him as a legitimate threat. It’s hard to say how strong he is because both enemies that he took down were either weakened or not really fighters to begin with. I expect he will be quite powerful though and likely you would need Megatron or Prime to take him down. Maybe Windblade could put up a good fight, but it’s hard to see her winning.

Metroplex is the first of the big heroes to take on Trypticon. He seems like a reasonably good robot but is lacking in personality. He also seems like a terrible fighter who completely relies on his size, but that may just be a side effect of the animation. He falls for every single one of Trypticon’s incredibly slow attacks. Now anyone can tell you that I’m not the biggest fan of giant fights and this is why. They’re moving so slow that everything should be dodgeable. Especially since Metroplex is humanoid and should be slightly more agile. Then we have Fortress Maximus who is a really bad character. It’s his duty to fight Trypticon and restore order to the planet but he doesn’t want to do so. He is basically forced into helping out after Windblade nearly dies in the process and still doesn’t fight too well. By this point Trypticon is already pretty exhausted. Of course, win or lose it wasn’t going to help Metroplex with his weak personality. Windblade is still a fun character and this continuity is her best portrayal. She’s less of a mysterious warrior here, but still talks tough to everyone. She doesn’t really get a chance to have a big fight this time around, but I suppose it makes sense since there weren’t many opponents in this season. She is still one of the best characters in the show and has a solid design. She just needs bigger guns when in plane mode since she never seems to deal any damage like that.

Perceptor gets a fairly big role here as Prime chooses him to wield the Matrix. I was never a fan of Perceptor, but I guess he isn’t bad here. He still can’t fight though and can be a little annoying as he isn’t very quick on the uptake. I suppose every franchise needs at least one scientist figure but when you’re one of the only characters in an action show who can’t fight…it doesn’t bode well. He’s probably my least favorite character by default. Meanwhile, Trypticon is a fun villain. He basically spends the entire season fighting opponent after opponent in a nonstop battle with no breaks. It’s a pretty incredible feat of endurance. While his fighting style isn’t elegant, it apparently does get the job done. If anything, the ending to his plot is actually very rushed and anticlimactic. You almost want to root for him by the end since the heroes were just throwing wave after wave at him. If he’s stuck it out for this long then he may as well take the win right? Fans of this character will certainly like how tough he looks here.

Victorion and the Combiners still get a pretty big role in this season although they are largely ineffective. They actually get a brand new super form as they all merge but are still too small to really be of much use. The scale of the Titans really makes them live up to the title. You’ve got the normal bots, then the combiners who are about 2-3x normal size, then you’ve got the fused form which is probably 1.5x that and then the Titans which are 2-3x that. They’re quite large is what I’m trying to say. The Combiners are just annoying though as none of the members are smart and all they care about is fighting even when they are hopelessly outgunned. They just don’t have any plans in place at all and come across as reckless, but not in a cool way. They’re just cannon fodder.

The Mistress of Flame had some potential, but she really didn’t do much throughout both seasons. She will not be missed and didn’t even put up much of a fight in the end. She’s not bad, but always feels like this character could be interchangeable with anyone else. She is a ruler and that caricature is her only personality. I guess better to have a generic one than none at all right? Finally we have the big boss at the end of the series, Megatronus. He’s always been a really cool character who is even more of a final boss esque character than Megatron. His power is on a completely different level from most of the other bots and he is treated as one of the creators here. He has yet to look bad in any form of media that I have seen him in and this will likely be no exception. The series does have to be careful with the power levels rising so high though as having a finale filled with plot hax would not be a good idea.

The animation will still remind you of the classic PS2 video games, but not in a bad way. This style of CGI works pretty well as it feels like a video game which is preferable to CGI that doesn’t look like one and still isn’t good. The character designs are on point and the energy effects are pretty good. It would be nice if the fighting was a little faster though and I feel like that would improve if we had more of the normal sized bots fighting. That may be an optimistic thought though. I guess the animation just looks better when everyone is standing still, but I’ll still give it a thumbs up in the end. With all of the constant action going on, at least I was able to follow the fight scenes. There isn’t really a great soundtrack here. One or two good themes may show up, but you won’t remember them for very long. That’s unfortunate, but not altogether unexpected. It would have been a nice bonus, but isn’t a negative.

It’s rare to watch a show where a whole season is essentially one long fight. Honestly, this may be the only time. Sure, we’ve had seasons where the whole thing is a long series of fights like DBZ or Bleach, but one long fight? I can’t think of any. Perhaps Goku vs Frieza was one long fight, but I’m not sure. If the animation was a little better and more streamlined then this could have gone down in history as one of the greatest TV shows ever. It was still a good concept though. What helps this title as well is that the writing is engaging. You’ll be interested in what is happening from start to finish. There are also no human characters around to distract from the fights and what is happening on screen which is certainly a good thing.

It’s almost going to be hard to go back to the usual Autobots vs Decepticons plots in the other shows. I suppose they never get old, but I’ve love to see more of an ongoing show tackle the futuristic era. Prime and Megatron should certainly stick around as main characters though. Writing them out isn’t a good idea when they still have a lot more to do. Even in this show, Prime leaves for 5 minutes and the city is in danger again. Considering that Windblade warned them in the last season it also does come across as a little odd that Prime would choose now to leave.


Overall, Titans Return had quite a lot of action and the season went by quickly. I can see it going down as a cult hit in the future. As the only positive effect of having such short episodes, the pacing was always very quick so nothing actually dragged on. With all of the seeds already sown for the third season it should be interesting to see how it’s handled. If the episodes are the same length as they were for these last two seasons, At first I thought the series was possibly starting more plots than they could finish, but now it seems like it all actually could wrap up. Ideally it just won’t be rushed. I think the Overlord plot will be the subplot once again as Megatronus is the focus but there should still be enough time to satisfactorily complete both plots. Most likely then it’ll end with Cybertron in another rebuilding stage. Well, now the waiting game returns, but long story short, I would recommend watching this season. It’s not as if it’ll take too much time and it’s simply a solid action show. It’s really like watching a short movie or a 3 part adventure if you add up the run time of the episodes.

Overall 7/10

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Transformers: Combiner Wars Review

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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.
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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.

Overall 7/10