the Transformers IP never really hit me that hard
In my ideal world, that's a crime. I can let you go if you start playing Chaos Legion in earnest.
Weird that it's Japan only since Transformers was pretty big in EU and USA. Any idea why this happened?
No idea. Strangely, it's fully voiced in English, and the menus are all English too though I think there's an option to change text to Japanese. The voice acting is so bad it's actually awesome and I love listening to it. I've had some good laughs at some of the weird shit they say.
This is one of those games where it's got a lot of good aspects, and is totally playable, but has glaring issues as well. I'll talk about movement a bit first.
The movement is the true definition of 'clunky'. I often see that word misused by people who simply didn't get, or sucked ass at using a game's controls, but in this TF game it's 100% clunky. You will need to put in genuine effort just to move around basically, though it becomes easier once you learn the mechanics in general.
The basic movement, that is, walking or running, is very slow and it gives this feel that you're running on a sheet of ice, in that you aren't gaining much forward momentum. It feels like each step is less than an actual step. There's this one stage where these wind turbine things push you back making this whole issue worse. You'll be trying to hit someone and be missing because every time you release the stick you start sliding back. There's no reason to ever walk; you will always be running.
In robot form, there is a 180 turn but it's super slow and enemies chase you down. There is a way around this which I'll describe later.
You can transform any time, but the movement is so bad. They can barely turn so you will often just hit a wall and grind it until you turn around. There is a command that lets you face an enemy, but for some reason it doesn't work with certain vehicles.
Some have flying forms and they go a bit faster than land vehicles. You can't actually fly away though, so they function almost like cars. You can alter the altitude to an extent and get slightly above enemy height, but not completely out of range of their attacks.
You have an energon meter for special attacks and using guns. You gain meter from picking up energon (blue orb) from defeated enemies, or attacking. There are also energon cubes (small pink cubes) that scatter everywhere and are a huge pain to collect because they'll vanish while you're fighting. I've noticed that there is a very small degree of magnetism on them but only when you get really close.
There's another meter known as the 'Spark Combo Gauge'. Did you see the button mash scene where Prime delivered a series of rapid punches and kicks? If you have meter you can do that. You just mash either kick or punch, or a combination of both. You can also do this with an ally if they have meter, but there is no way to tell what they have so it just happens sometimes.
You have a punch and kick button. You can just keep pressing either and they'll do repeated attacks of 2-3 different strikes. If you've played Street of Rage, it's kind of like that, where you press the button and they do a series of light strikes ending with a heavy one. Seems kicks are slightly faster and have more range.
If you add in a direction input, either up or down, you can do what I'm going to call 'power attacks'. These are harder hitting attacks that have properties like launch, knockdown, or send an enemy flying. In the video, you can see Prime do a kick directly upwards and launch an enemy, and also a spinning kick that wipes out anything in front of him.
That spinning kick is the BEST attack in the whole game. I've confirmed it has brief i-frames, absolutely wipes out a group in front and to the side of you, and causes the knockback that sends them all flying. Better yet, this knockback state causes them to collide with other enemies. I use it constantly.
Each bot has the same commands and a lot of them have the exact same moves. Like you'll come across others that have that spin kick, or some kind of power punch so there's not huge variety between a lot of them, but there is some variety to be found here, mainly in the special moves they have.
Special moves require energon, which is dropped by defeated enemies. You'll see Prime use his energon axe in the video. If you're in vehicle form, you can do different special, like Prime's trailer opens up and that thing inside shoots in every direction. You are invincible while doing these.
Some have unique properties, though the only one I can think of is how Megatron and Galvatron fire a huge energy shot from their arm cannons. It's super powerful, but hurts your allies too, and they are always in the way. No other special in the game does this, so I think they just wanted to show what dicks Megatron/Galvatron are. Totally accurate.
There are running and jumping attacks. Jumping has no point in this game that I can see. There's no platforming or air combos, and you can barely leave the ground. Still it's there and you can do stuff like a jump kick. Haven't looked into it much.
You can block, and I think only certain special moves can break it. There might chip damage but I can't remember. When you get hit on block, it makes you slide back a little. Kinda annoying.
There are grabs. I can't remember if you can grab a standing enemy, but you can certainly grab them if they're down. You can then throw them into other enemies. You might be able to grab blocking enemies and vice versa, but I never use grabs much.
There is a 360 explosion move. Every bot has this and it requires only a small amount of energon. If you can't turn fast enough or have too many enemies on you, this is what you want to use. Super useful throughout the whole game. This is what I was talking about in relation to the 180 turn; it gives you some breathing room to reposition.
You have guns and can draw them by holding R1. Each shot consumes energon, so you can't just stand there firing forever. Enemies don't seem to have this limit and are super annoying. I think this is the only time I seriously used the sidestep, to dodge their shots while moving closer. In close range combat, there's usually too many enemies for the sidestep to be effective, and the spinning kick or other moves can just blast them away.
What's cool is that you can also run while shooting, or if stationary, you can step to the left or right slowly all while locked on.
There is also a counter attack, Onimusha style. Pressing an attack button just before an attack connects will result in a flash and you bot will do some kind of attack and blast the enemy away. Enemies can do this to you too, though they don't seem to do it that much. I don't know if the AI actually sets it up or if it just happens that they're attacking as you are and it triggers their counter. Actually that's worth looking into when I have time.
This is fast becoming the longest post ever and there's a still a bit I want to explain.