This review is taken from a series of reviews I did a couple of years ago concerning the fighters available for the N64.
This is definitely a fan based game. I often got the impression many years ago, that gaming companies spent most of the money on the licensing of the characters, rather than on the game engine development for games of this sort. Only fans of the series would be able to get deeply in, and love this game, or appreciate it. And it might depend on the age group for that to happen. Fighting games, that are popular, are usually those in which the company has spent some time developing the fighting engine and creating their own fighters, such as the popular franchises.
Rather than spend “real” money on the US version I opted for the Japanese game. It was a whole lot cheaper. And there is surprisingly a big difference in the gameplay. For some reason they made changes to the US release. The Japan version is so much different in feel and gameplay than its US counterpart, (My Daughter owns the US version). And I believe the Japan version to be the better game. The original version causes you to use strategy against your opponents. Having a very big playing field, something that the US version does not have, the need to maneuver your character, adds to this concept. I have stood back, or flew around, at an extreme distance and shot at my opponent until he was knocked out. Not very deep gameplay, I know. But this does not always work, and not with every character. Sometimes I have flew in, landed, and slugged the opponent. There are a few moves to be learned and as with the Super Robot Spirits game, certain moves spark that certain dramatic animation for the move. And of course you have three different modes to transform back and forth at will. Graphics are blocky for the Transformers and that works well. Each has the likeness and bears the colors of their respective Transformer character. All of the Transformers are the same size which can be an issue with some fans. The arenas are nothing but a flat plain with the background rotating around the outside rim. You tend to hit an invisible wall when you reach the end of the playing field. 3D gaming with everything kept simple.
I had read many times that this is a bad fighting game. I have been playing it through using Cheetor. It was difficult at first, controls are just not intuitive. And it did seem that when fighting against certain characters I had to use a different strategy other than just shooting from a distance. The game does feel a bit unfinished, a lot of potential left undone. Needs to be tweaked very badly. (The thought, could have been awesome, comes into my mind.) But I did, sort of, enjoy the short trip through once I got the hang of it. I usually spend my time in the flying mode zig zagging and circling my opponent. While playing, there was that desire and want for more moves to each character’s mode, kept pushing different buttons & nothing, and I did not like the difficulty in aiming my weapon. You use the green and blue button for transforming. The directional pad is not used and the four yellow buttons are the attack, with the right shoulder being your special move. Depends on which mode you are in the Z button is jump. This is not an easy pick up and play game and that works against any enjoyment until you catch on. Once you wrap your head around understanding the control for your fighter, it can be an enjoyable gaming experience. That is why my conclusion is, one would need to be a diehard fan to press in and discover this detail. My recommendation is to search the net for button controls. I got the idea when playing that this was a quick push to market. A hopeful easy cash cow for any popularity to the Beast Wars TV series? It just feels that way.
Overall I am glad to have Beast Wars in my N64 collection. And in spite of my negativity above, I might pull this one out occasionally. But my main problem with that idea is I easily forget the control scheme and need to relearn. I need to try different characters to find a favorite. Even though it is simple, limited as a fighter, and a far cry from the present day Transformer games, there will be some gamers that will really like this. I am thinking, if you are a fan of the series then this would be your game on the N64. Another one of those games on the N64 with a limited appeal and two player mode being the better experience than the single player. Non fans may pull this from the shelf occasionally, and that is a big maybe, hmmm… depends. With mixed feelings, I don’t think the game is that bad, but I must rate this game, “Glad I only paid $5 instead of $60.” This game is unfinished.
And maybe that is because I saw potential. One example is, I wished that the direction pad could have been used when you was up in the face of your opponent. It could have been utilized for special moves in combination with the attack buttons. That would not have been hard to do. Just needed a little creativity. I wanted more from this game.