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Steambot Chronicles - Impression

Steambot Chronicles
Platform: PS2
Developer: Irem
Publisher: Atlus
Release Date: May 2006
Help the girl.

Lumbering with lumber.

Taking out the trash.

Choices.

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So you want to be a bad guy? A good guy? A ladies' man? A famous musician? A trader? Maybe just bust some heads together? Steambot Chronicles, "a relaxing, non-linear adventure" by developer Irem, is a sandbox-style game with so much to do it can be mind-boggling at times. Similar to other sandbox games, though much more cheerful and light-hearted, you are plopped down in the world as the appropriately named Vanilla, with no idea who you are and only a brief, yet challenging optional tutorial to start you off. Shortly, you find your main mode of transportation-slash-combat vehicle: an abandoned Trotmobile. In the world of Steambot Chronicles, formerly known as Bumpy Trot, after automobiles were invented, a scientist created the first Trotmobile: A typically bipedal robot with a torso shaped like the front of a car that runs on gasoline and steam. Soon this vehicle type spread and many different types of Trotmobiles were created. With a Trotmobile in your possession, you make your way out into the world, and, well, do stuff. Lots of stuff.

"...this game is steamy robot love."

Most of the gameplay of Steambot Chronicles revolves around the use of your Trotmobile as a both a combat vehicle and a utility machine. As a combat machine, it takes some getting used to. The control scheme is similar to that of Katamari Damacy: You control your Trotmobile with both analog sticks. Each stick essentially controls a leg, and you push them in different directions to initiate various actions such as turning, moving forward and backward at different speeds, moving in a curve, and bringing up a defensive shield for combat. This really gives the feel of controlling a clunky robot. The Trotmobile is customizable, with parts ranging from combat-oriented blades and claws, to utility-oriented flatbeds and pickaxes. Within an hour of play you can find yourself trading goods among different areas as a source of income. If fighting is more your style there are many avenues to explore there, too. Arenas, enemies outside major cities, and many other challenges await you. Not to mention dozens of food types, cooking, different outfits and haircuts, and random quests if that's more to your liking. Oh, and branching storyline paths.

Visually, Steambot Chronicles doesn't disappoint. It's quite a pretty game, though there is some very noticeable slowdown when in towns and when many enemies are on the screen at once. As well, a few localization errors have cropped up, but those should be taken care of by the time the game is released. Aurally, the game measures up pretty well. The voice acting seems very well done, and every character so far is believable. The music is catchy but not repetitive, but the sound effects leave a little to be desired.

Overall, Steambot Chronicles is shaping up to be an interesting game, with many different activities to do, of which I've only scratched the surface. While the controls have taken some time to get used to, they make a lot of sense in the end and have added to the experience. With interesting gameplay mechanics, nice visuals, and good voice acting, there's a lot to expect from this title. If there's one thing to be said about Steambot Chronicles: this game is steamy robot love.



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