Retro Achiever Game #55: Convoy no Nazo

As a child, all of my Transformers video game experience came from the Commodore 64 attempt at the franchise, The Battle to Save the Earth. I knew a few others who had the game, and I gave it a couple of tries, but ultimately came away unfulfilled because I didn’t fully understand how the game progressed. These days I understand the ambition of that title, but it would serve as the only Transformers video game experience I had until the Playstation 2 title.

Despite the time lapse, perhaps it’s a good thing that Convoy no Nazo never reached the United States. In the age of the internet, the title serves as an exemplary Famicom kusoge, failing to deliver on a strong concept sparked by a very popular franchise. On paper, it makes perfect sense to make a buck on delivering a video game answer to a cartoon cliffhanger, but Convoy no Nazo is a cookie-cutter platforming mess.


I’m so very excited to play this game.

If you don’t know, Japanese viewers were left in the dark between two seasons of the animation, as Transformers: The Movie had exclusively appeared in North America when it launched. Now, it’s been 25 years, so I’m just going to lay this HUGE spoiler out there – the character Optimus Prime (Convoy in the Japanese version) dies in this movie. It reportedly took four years for the movie to get a Japanese release, so Takara banked on this game to explain to the Eastern market Convoy’s disappearance and why Ultra Magnus was suddenly the leader of the Autobots.


Transformers: Convoy no Nazo: The Title Screen

Convoy no Nazo has players controlling Ultra Magnus as he storms Decepticon strongholds to learn more about the fate of Convoy.

Despite the game’s reputation, it does serve as a memory for a lot of gamers, including HighGai, the Hightension Gaijin, who has served as a huge inspiration and supporter of my Twitch channel. For a while, it was sort of a gimmick that HighGai would play the game near Christmas time as a bit of a tradition.

HighGai made the first Retro Achiever request on my Twitch channel, returning the favor and sharing the “excitement” of Convoy no Nazo.

Normally a Retro Achiever stream pits me against a game as naturally as possible – using only what the game provides, such as continues and levels, by default without codes. However, knowing what Convoy no Nazo entails, I made the exception of being able to use the game’s continue code and having a map of the stage that acts similar to Super Mario Brothers’ Bowser castle “maze” stages.

Even with these tools, the game is difficult enough, so I wanted to ensure there would be some enjoyment to be had on the stream. I knew if I were to be at maximum salt levels, the stream would suffer for it, so I made these one-time concessions. Also, because the “second quest” only changed the appearance of the main character, I set the clear condition at one loop.

In testing the game prior to the stream, the chunky controls became a reality, and it made me question how far I would get into the game. Magnus controls like a tank in the game, being able to shoot forward and jump, with a command that allows him to transform into a truck. In the vehicle form, Magnus’ bullets fire vertically and his ground speed increases. The game is filled with all manner of small, quick-moving, flying enemies, and, for whatever reason, Magnus explodes if an enemy even breathes on him.

The game starts out with horizontally-scrolling outdoor stages, but it begins to mix in vertical stages, along with the aforementioned “maze” level where you have to take certain paths throughout the stage or else the map loops over. Sprinkle in the odd boss fight against some oddities such as the Decepticon logo (?), and there is some honest variety here. I actually kind of liked the vertical stages because they seemed to play better with the game’s control scheme.


The game’s commercial shows the few types of stages available.

The playthrough started out fine enough, with some struggling on the first two stages, but they were cleared in due time. The unfortunate encounter here is in the game’s third stage, which is brutally difficult. Not only is the player bombarded with those small, quick enemies, but it is lengthy and features no checkpoints whatsoever. The simplest of mistakes puts the player back at the beginning.

There are a handful of powerups the player can stumble upon, and the luck of this draw is what finally got me through the stage. After the stage three struggles, the rest of the game flowed quite well and I even somehow managed to collect the Rodimus letters to trigger the second quest. I made an honest attempt to get through the second quest, but I once again got hung up on stage three and called it a night.


Ultra Magnus in vehicle form.

Convoy no Nazo is an interesting milestone in popular kusoge, but, I honestly think if it weren’t for that third stage, it would be a game I would somewhat enjoy despite its setbacks. However, with the sting of stage three still burning inside of me, revisiting the game doesn’t interest me in the slightest.

One highlight of the game, though, is its “theme song,” for which I found a remix of that looped through my intro video for the stream. It’s quite catchy, and definitely a high point amongst the other lazy game design choices.

Despite the struggle, I still managed to grab 56% of the game’s Retro Achievements, for which I’ll pat myself on the back and call it a day. I solved the mystery of Convoy, and, for now, I’ll stick to the handful of Transformers games that are at least a little bit enjoyable.

Watch D.J. Tatsujin’s special Convoy no Nazo Twitch stream

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Categories: GemuBaka Feature, GemuBaka Retro Achiever


Arcade enthusiast and game collector. Affiliate Twitch retro streamer and games archive writer at Gemubaka ( For business only: gemubaka at gmail


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