More than meets the eye.
Transformative art by @KSShaezer.
Boy howdy, how about those Transformers, huh? Why, I remember back in the day, watching them on that cartoon show of theirs. And of course, who can forget those toys? Transforming all over the place, turning into all sorts of stuff! But oh man, don’t get me started on that jerk Michael Bay, tarnishing the reputation of… Those cartoons designed to sell the toys, I guess? Autobots, keep on rollin’ baby!
Alright look, I’ve gotta come clean: I’m not really a Transformers fan. I didn’t grow up watching them (I was more of a Looney Tunes kind of kid), I didn’t mess around with any of the toys, and while I honestly didn’t hate that first Michael Bay movie, I also did not feel the need to watch any of the sequels. If you’re one of those folk who loves this sort of mecha stuff with a passion, more power to you! It’s just not my bag, baby. You know what is my bag, though? Bad video games. Which is where and why our paths cross today.
1986’s Tatakae! Chō Robotto Seimeitai Toransufōmā: Konboi no Nazo translates roughly into English as “Fight! Super Robot Life-Form Transformers: Mystery of Convoy.” But for the sake of simplicity, maybe we oughta’ call the game “Mystery of Comvoy [sic],” as that is the only English present on the Famicom box / cartridge art. You see, we never actually saw a release of this game in English-speaking territories, which is honestly something of a surprise. Considering how anything with the Transformers branding seemed guaranteed to sell like hotcakes in the States at the time, you’d think that they’d have been willing to localize any slop with a shot at making a quick buck? Unless, of course, the product was so bad, that releasing it overseas could’ve been seen as potentially harmful to the franchise as a whole.
Transformers: Mystery of Convoy is one of the classic “Kusogē” titles** of the Famicom era, whose legacy has endured through the years much as the source material it is based on. It was the among most popularly requested games to appear on the venerable GameCenter CX, its legendary difficulty has been referenced in spin-off Transformers anime, and it was even re-imagined as an endless runner smartphone game in 2014 to capitalize on the originals notoriety. It takes a special kind of awful to be recognized as one of “the worst of all time,” and so today we’re gonna get to the bottom of what makes Mystery of Convoy so infamous.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Mystery of Convoy utilizes some pretty severe strobing effects, which I have attempted to diminish the speed / frequency of in the animated GIFs included with this article. This may slightly affect the timing of some of the animations on display, but seizure-proofing takes priority on this website.
** Since this is actually our first time using the term on this site, it may bear some explanation: Kusogē is effectively Japanese slang for “shit games,” generally of the “funny bad” variety. In using the term as someone from outside of Japan, it is my thinking that we should generally try to reserve it for games specifically from and intended for Japan, rather than just labeling all bad games as a kusogē.