Platform: Super Nintendo
Following the success of Starwing, Argonaut sought to find a new title to utilize the Super FX chip once more and prove that the SNES still had plenty of life in it yet against the newcomers of the Sony PlayStation and SEGA Saturn.
Super Play magazine reported in 1994 that Argonaut had signed the Transformers licence, and this was to be their next big title on the platform. It was felt that producing large scale robots would work perfectly with the Super FX chip and something special could certainly be created.
The article though was mostly just fluff though, with no real concrete details about the development, apart from that the characters and powers would be from Generation 2 (1994) range. Additionally, it was reported that work had already begun on sculpting all the major Transformer heroes into 3D models.
After the article, nothing was to surface at all. However, Argonaut completed a title called Vortex which had staggering parallels with Transformers. Surely this was the Transformers game, but with a different name? Maybe because Argonaut lost the licence?
Well, many it seemed thought exactly that – but when Retro Gamer magazine spoke to developed Michael Wong-Powell, he confirmed otherwise. Whilst at Argonaut, a Transformers game was indeed on the cards, and seeing parallels with his own ideas, he even suggested merging them into the licenced game. However, Jez San decided to keep Michael’s game separate as he wanted a few games put out with the Super FX chip – hence Vortex was born.
I have to say – when you look at Vortex, this just seems incredible that the opportunity was passed to attach the licence. Had Transformers gone ahead and been released – surely there would have been direct comparisons between it and Vortex, especially if released so close together. Hopefully Jez will be able to shed some light on what happened exactly and just how far the proper licence game had got.
The Edge article that Ross Sillifant dug out recently also confirms the same thing that the developments were very separate, even though they were looking very similar.
With thanks to Ross Sillifant for highlighting the title + scans. Sources: Nintendo Life – No, SNES Super FX title Vortex was never a Transformers game.