|Airdate||October 29, 1985|
|Story by||Jeff Segal and Kelly Ward|
|Teleplay by||Michael Hill|
|Animation studio||Wang Film Productions|
The GoBots are captured by an alien bounty hunter and sold into gladiatorial slavery.
Out in space aboard the Command Center, A.J. successfully completes her first assignment reading star charts. The Guardians all congratulate her, also taking the time to placate a grumpy Nick, who is irritated at all the attention she is receiving. Before they can set course for a new destination, they are blindsided by the Renegades in Thruster, and the damage inflicted to the Command Center leaves it without power. When the Renegades close in to deliver the final blow, however, Thruster's power suddenly drains away as well—the work of a huge, insect-like spaceship that appears overhead and sucks both the powerless Guardian and Renegade vessels into its belly. The two craft are surrounded by alien guardsmen, and when the GoBots and humans emerge, they are immediately bound with energy restraints. The ship's captain introduces himself as B'oosa and reveals that the GoBots are now his captives, to be taken to the planetoid Kolob and sold to its gamesmaster Crespas as fighters for his gladiatorial games. They are ushered into cells with B'oosa's many other captives from across the galaxy for the return trip to Kolob, but Cy-Kill immediately begins plotting to convince their captor that the Renegades will serve better as allies than as slaves.
Upon arrival on Kolob, B'oosa presents the GoBots and the control for their restraints to Crespas. Leader-1 demands they be released, while Cy-Kill tries to befriend the alien—both pleas that fall on deaf ears, as Crespas applauds their spirit and decrees they will fight to the death the next day. A furious Turbo tries to overcome his restraints, but he is blasted into submission by B'oosa's guards and taken to a cell with the other Guardians. When the next day dawns, with crowds of money-hungry gamblers betting on the outcome, the Guardians and Renegades have no choice but to battle four-on-four in Crespas's arena: Leader-1 takes on Cy-Kill, Turbo overpowers BuggyMan, Scooter tries to keep out of Crasher's way, and Path Finder engages in an aerial battle with Cop-Tur. She nearly meets her end between Cop-Tur's rotors, but Turbo zooms to her rescue, while Leader-1 uses his forcefield to protect Scooter.
Concurrently, on Earth, UNECOM grows concerned over their loss of contact with Leader-1's team, so Hans-Cuff takes a Command Center and a crew out to their last known location to investigate. There, the Guardians cross paths with a Thruster captained by Fitor, who is searching for the missing Cy-Kill. Each side presumes the other has captured their comrades, but rationality prevails when a quick scan of the two vessels proves that neither has the missing GoBots aboard. Consequently, Hans-Cuff and Fitor agree to join forces to track down Leader-1, Cy-Kill, and their other lost allies.
Meanwhile, Matt, Nick, and A.J. watch the GoBots' battle in the arena from the cell they share with various other prisoners. Nick believes he can build a device to override Crespas's restraint control device, but has no means of doing so until one of the robotic prisoners speaks up, volunteering some of his own components, and those from other prisoners, to help construct the disruptor. Working quickly, Nick and Matt complete the device just as the GoBots' energy levels are reaching dangerous lows. While Leader-1 shields his troops from Renegade fire with his forcefield, they all combine their firepower to blast a hole in the dome over the arena. As the crowd of spectators scatters, the Renegades realize they are free of Crespas's control and make their escape, while the Guardians pause only to rescue their human allies and the other prisoners from captivity. The flurry of craft leaving Kolob all at once catches Fitor and Hans-Cuff's attention, and as they draw closer to investigate, they are met by Leader-1 and Cy-Kill's teams, fleeing in their ships with B'oosa hot on their tails, desperate to recapture them to avoid giving Crespas a refund! Unfortunately for the cheapskate alien, the Guardians and Renegades combine their firepower to hold him off, then make good their getaway, the Thrusters activating their stealth devices and the Command Centers disappearing into hyperspace. Scooter expresses relief to be away from Kolob; Leader-1 and Turbo jokingly tell him that he put up such a good fight that being a gladiator could be a new career for him, but Scooter announces that he would prefer to be a librarian!
(Numbers indicate order of appearance.)
"I've been waiting a llllong time for this, Leader-1!"
"Don't be a fool, Cy-Kill! Right now, we have a greater threat than each other!"
"Don't kid yourself! You have no greater threat than me!"
- —Cy-Kill and Leader-1
"Hang in, Scooter! Nick's building a jamming device to override Crespas' black box!"
"Better hurry it up... or you'll have to put me in a black box!"
- —A.J. and Scooter
"I was about to turn those Guardian pests into party dip!"
- When Screw Head and Fitor discuss the disappearance of Thruster, the establishing shot for the scene places them on GoBotron, rather than Roguestar. While a little odd, this is not unprecedented within the series; "Time Wars" showed that the Renegades still had a "secret headquarters" on GoBotron despite the fall of their fortress during the pilot mini-series. That said, Cy-Kill orders them all "back to Roguestar" at the end of the episode.
- Kolob takes its name from a planet or star mentioned in Mormon scripture.
- "What, me worry?" Scooter asks sarcastically, quoting the catchphrase of Alfred E. Neuman.
Continuity and plotting errors
- Fitor tells Hans-Cuff that the Renegades "have detected Cy-Kill aboard that Thruster"—except the Thruster is still inside a hangar on Kolob, and Cy-Kill hasn't boarded it yet.
Animation and technical errors
- When Leader-1 orders the Command Center's shields up, his "ear" overlaps the plate at the side of his head.
- A.J.'s lipstick is bright red when the Renegades attack the Command Center, compared to its usual pink.
- As the powerless Thruster and Command Center float into B'oosa's ship, Cy-Kill suddenly bellows "Blow them away!" This is followed by more silence, and then, as the ship sets down, the same audio of Cy-Kill plays again, this time with Crasher replying "We can't, Cy-Kill!" He's obviously supposed to be referring to the guards, but even by the second time the audio plays—the "more correct" placement for the line—the guards haven't yet appeared to surround the ships.
- The grey of Turbo's "belt" blinks out several times as he is blasted by the guards.
- Screw Head and Fitor just straight-up disappear as they talk about their loss of contact with Cy-Kill, just *poof* gone off the screen mid-sentence as their dialogue continues to play unaffected.
- When Nick asks the robot prisoner what will happen after he and the others donate their components, the robot's mouth starts moving a second or two before his dialogue is heard.
- When Fitor appears on Hans-Cuff's screen, his torso is colored purple as if it were part of the background. Then, in the very next shot, Hans-Cuff has no mouth.
- Tank is drawn in place of BuggyMan when the Renegades fire on Leader-1's force field.
- The Renegades make a big show of transforming to make their escape, but when they come through the hole in the dome, all but Cop-Tur have returned to robot mode. Because it's a hole in an overhead dome, so being in their non-flying vehicle mode made no sense! Also, uh, Scooter has been drawn in place of BuggyMan for this scene.
- In addition to the above, the dome is transparent, showing the background painting of the arena below it, but neither the Renegades nor the Guardians can be seen through the glass, only appearing once they come flying through the hole.
- Once the Guardians and human boards the Command Center to leave Kolob, a scrolling space backdrop appears outside its window despite the ship not having blasted off yet.
- As B'oosa pursues the GoBots, the interior view of his ship shows it bobbing up and down as it moves. The contents of the ship's viewscreen do not bob, however, making it seem as if he's watching the Thrusters and Command Centers through a large window in the middle of his computer console!
- Hans-Cuff's mouth is missing again in the final scene of the episode.
- Phew, that's two "alien gladiatorial games" stories less than three weeks apart. Nice job diversifying your plots, there, GoBots.
- Writer Michael Charles Hill was unhappy with the re-writes performed on his script for this episode by story editors Jeff Segal and Kelly Ward, and quickly found a way to tell the story as he intended when was afforded the chance to pitch for The Transformers over at Marvel Productions. The reworked scripted became the episode "The Gambler," which saw broadcast not two weeks after the first airing of "Gameworld." B'oosa becomes Bosch and Crespas becomes Lord Gyconi, while the setting of the episode, Sheol, has a name with religiously-derived etymology like Kolob does.
- An early working title for this episode was "Olympiad Galactica".
- When Hans-Cuff detects the Renegades, someone asks "Have they detected us yet?" Based on who is aboard the Command Center, by process of elimination the line can only have been spoken by Scratch; it is provided by Peter Cullen, who did not voice the character in "Genius and Son," Scratch's only other speaking role in the series.
Home video releases
2015 — Challenge of the GoBots — The Series, Volume One (Warner Archive Collection)