The gameplay in the game is somewhat straightforward. You play as a mouse, in a variety of maps with cheese in them. The object of the game is to get this cheese into your mousehole. Many maps have complex puzzles involved that can only be solved with the help of the all-powerful shaman, who is determined every round based on highest scores. In addition, completing these maps will result in being awarded with titles and cheese. Cheese allows you to buy clothing accessories in the Shop.
As a mouse, you have only one goal: to collect the cheese, and navigate back to the safety of your mouse hole with the help of the Shaman. The mice have few and basic controls, using the arrows keys (or, alternatively, W, A, S, and D) to duck, jump, and move.
The Shaman is a mouse with the ability to summon physics objects, and in some cases must overcome an otherwise insurmountable obstacle to clear a path to the cheese for the other mice. The Shaman is separated from the other mice with various markings on his fur and a feather on his head. The array of objects the Shaman has access to varies from map to map; in some cases, the shaman can't do anything at all. As the Shaman, your controls are a bit more advanced; see the complete list of controls here.
Transformice can trace its beginnings back to April 2008, when Tigrounette released Aaaah!, a game with similar mechanics. In Aaaah!, players controlled stick figures and navigated through a dark, silhouette-based map to reach a pharmacy. One player, with the most points, would be designated as a "guide" and was supposed to help the other players reach the pharmacy by drawing a path. Players could press the spacebar to scream loudly and push away any nearby characters. Like Transformice, it had a similar online room system, but does not have an English translation. Aaaah! does, however, feature a map editor, which spawned a rather large community of custom map makers.
Aaaah! was followed by a much closer ancestor to Transformice called Fish. Fish was a short-lived flash game that was effectively an early prototype of Transformice. Instead of mice looking for cheese, there were fish trying to get back into a water bowl. The fish, however, had the unfortunate tendency to slide all over the place. Like Aaaah!, it featured multiplayer gameplay with a guide who was supposed to help the fish to the fishbowl. However, instead of drawing a path to the objective, the guide in Fish had to place physical objects in the world. In addition, the guide had no physical presence and could place objects anywhere on the map.
The objects available were very similar to the ones in Transformice. All the Transformice base objects, plus some additional ones (notably an Up Cannon gift in the first versions of Transformice) were available to the guide in Fish. Unlike Transformice, Fish listed all of the available anchors in the object pool, and did not have as many anchors available as Transformice does. In addition, the Guide had the ability to stop time for a few seconds, which made placing objects much easier without having to worry about the hopping fish. Interestingly, the fish always started on the bottom left and had to reach a bowl on the top right.
Fish was online for a few months before closing pending the release of Transformice at May 1, 2010. Transformice refined the basic concepts introduced in Fish, changing the objective to grabbing cheese and getting back to a hole, with a shaman that had a physical presence and limited powers. Several updates to the game added battle stages for shaman, an item shop, and several other small additions. Most importantly, Transformice added an English translation of the game, which, combined with a viral video about the game, allowed a much larger audience to enjoy it.
List of updates is avaliable at game updates page.
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