21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
"Steambot Chronicles" (known in Japan as "Bumpy Trot") is a hard game to classify. It's equal parts adventure, Bemani rhythm game, and mech combat. There are RPG elements but it's not a true RPG, as there are no experience points, no levelling up, and the only fighting is done atop battlemechs (known here as Trotmobiles). It's set in a version of the Industrial Revolution in which the first World War seems never to have happened. All with anime-style characters. The back of the box mentions a comparison to Miyazaki's films, and that's actually pretty accurate.
Vanilla -- that's you -- starts out by salvaging an old Trotmobile, which can be upgraded with different parts at garages, to suit your needs. The Trot controls utilize both analog sticks, much like driving a forklift... or a Katamari. Although it starts out on one of the worst RPG cliches ever (lead female finds hero, and he has amnesia), "Steambot Chronicles" quickly became one of the most unique and endearing PS2 games I've come across. I felt a real attachment to the characters, even though there's not a lot of depth to most of them. You're given the choice of how to play the main character -- nice guy, a jerk, or a money-grubbing moocher.
In fact you can pretty much play the entire game however you choose. There's a story weaved through it, with a significant plot branch about 2/3 of the way through, but most of the time you're free to wander around and do whatever you want. There are some randomly-generated dungeons to explore, and arenas for battling other Trotmobile pilots. You can dig up fossils, transport people or raw materials, or play one of several instruments in a band -- that's where the rhythm game aspect comes in. The songs (translations of the original Japanese lyrics) had a nice timeless folk quality to them, although the timing almost always felt a little off to me.
Graphics get the job done. The Trots themselves look fine, but the textures and character models aren't very detailed, and I'm sorry to say a lot of the game looks a little bland. Sometimes when you're moving through a city your Trotmobile will pass right through pedestrians and other vehicles. Same with environmental objects in the countryside. It's doesn't affect gameplay at all, but it just doesn't look good. Another problem is that sometimes when there's a lot of activity onscreen, particularly during a massive desert battle scene, the framerate drags and the game becomes very sluggish and difficult to control.
There are multiple story paths leading to different endings, and a ton of optional side quests, most of which can be gone back to after you complete the main story. Unfortunately, I found travel between all the different places just too tedious to complete most of them. In order to get from one city to another, you need to pick either an exit gate or the train station as your destination, then sit back and wait while your Trotmobile moves through the streets to get there. (You can speed it up with L1 but it can still take over a minute with the load screens.) Then, depending on where you're going, you may also have to navigate through multiple outdoor areas, all the while fighting off the exact same enemies who reappear every time you come through. This was tolerable for the story phase of the game, which isn't terribly long, but I just didn't have the patience for it during the free-roaming sandbox mode that comes after. If only there were an unlockable "instant travel" feature to skip all that, it would have encouraged additional exploration so much more.
Overall though, the game is a real treat. The world of Steambot Chronicles is one you'll want to immerse yourself in, and visit again and again. If you're one of those people who likes to thoroughly explore and find every hidden secret in their games, you will be entertained for months. This is one of those games that people will always have fond memories of. It saw a relatively low production run (typical of Atlus fringe titles) so it'll likely become highly sought-after and collectible once the PS2 fades and the next-gen fully takes over. Pick it up now while you still can.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
We've all seen and played the games that are said to be a "vast non-linear adventure" and things of the sort. Many times this isn't quite the case. Luckily with Steambot Chronicles this is the main calling point of the game.
Steambot Chronicles was just localized from Japan (where its original title was Bumpy Trot) due to enormous support from fans shown to Atlus Publishing. The game is about a young man named Vanilla Bean who is found washed up on the beach by a young girl named Connie. Vanilla has lost his memory but you can probably infer much of what may have happened by looking at the shipwreck just off shore (plus you can learn more by playing the tutorial before beginning your game).
While there is a driving story cultivated throughout the game, there is a time system that allows you to freely explore and pass the time. Day with slowly turn to night as you go about the days activities and in order to turn night back to day you must stay at an inn, so theoretically you can stay up in an everlasting night playing music or playing billiards to hustle people. Most of the story progresses at specific times leaving the rest open for you to do as you please.
So what is there to do? Well, for those of you who like a bit more action, you can customize and battle your trotmobiles. What are trotmobiles? Essentially they are mecha used for transportation, work, and battles. Exactly which is up to you. You can customize all your parts from cannons to running legs, or even convert it into a bus or flatbed for transporting people and cargo. There is a battle arena for when you have down time in which you can win different awards and titles throughout the game.
On top of the trotmobiles you can become a member of a band and play one of numerous different instruments and music scores. By practicing and perfecting your skills on the street, you will get better and make some money from those passing by if you do well enough. Of course though this is all optional. You could decide to spend your time doing services for others to make money or even perfecting your skill at billiards in the local bar to become a well known hustler, it's all up to you.
Graphically the game is nice to look at. While the characters aren't the type of realistically renderred CG that many characters seem to be going with, Steambot Chronicles characters are more cartoonish with bold outlines and vibrant colors. But within the context of the world they fit in just fine. There are some issues with frame-rate slow downs here and there. It is enough to be noticable but unless you are really picky, it shouldn't be enough to deter the player.
The controls are also very good. There are only a few minor issues with some of the music techniques (every instrument is different and some are much more difficult than others) and the trotmobiles will take some time to get used to. To drive the trotmobile you use both control sticks (ala Katamari Damacy) and the shoulder buttons to dash, jump, and attack. The only trouble is to lock on you use square and to change targets you use the directional pad. Normally it isn't an issue except for if you are in a battle with multiple enemies, making it fairly awkward to move and target the way you really desire. Aside from those few things, the controls are quite tight and natural.
Overall, the game is very entertaining. Aside from a few minor things that can be complained about it is a truly solid adventure game. There is enough options available that should be able to keep the player busy and entertained for a good while. From mech combat to music and even a bit of comedy here and there it is a good-feeling adventure that isn't so story heavy as to get convoluted or depressing. I recommend this game to any one who loves open environments and not being pulled through a game against your will. As well as for those who enjoy "mini-games" and want something a bit outside of the mainstream. It's not as good as it could have been, but a fun game never the less.
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
Steambot Chronicles is unlike a lot of RPGs out there. It has a non-linear gameplay scheme - basically, you choose what you want to do by how you interact with others and how you customize your Trotmobile.
At the start of the game, you're awakened by a girl named Connie who found you unconsious at the beach. Also in this early start, you get to start forming your personality - caring, greedy, nosey, indifferent, shy, or outgoing - it's up to you and how you answer questions and react to situations. On the beach is where you also find the item you'll use most in the game no matter what you choose later - your Trotmobile, a fully costomizable mech. After a few favors for Connie, you'll end up in Nefroburg, see a concert, and help fight off the local gang, The Killer Elephants, a group of thieves with a pretty big mission.
After that, though, what path you take is completely up to you. You can join The Killer Elephants, or Connie's band, The Garland Globetrotters. You can excavate fossils and work for the meuseum, or join the Bloody Mantis. Rent an apartment, or live on the road. You can help develop a flying Trotmobile, or an electric guitar. Once again, it's up to you.
As you progress in the game, you learn that there are a few major questions that need to be answered, though - Where did you come from, and why were you on a beach? Who gave you the pendant that you wear around your neck? Who shot at you on the beach, anyway? All of these are answered in due time as you progress through the game natrually, regardless of the paths you choose to take.
All in all, the game is really fun, and provides hours of gameplay and literally a million ways to play. Highly reccomended for anyone looking for something new. ^_^
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
It's fair to say that Steambot Chronicles is unlike any other game you'll have played, and it's probably best suited to fans of eclectic games. It is a fusion of game styles using elements of a sim-type game, a few economic principles, vehicle combat, roleplaying story, with some emphasis on musical performances. In other words, it's hard to define by normal game labels.
The game is not a big-budget production, and I would not want to pay full price for it. But as a collector of off-the-wall or niche games, this one is a perfect addition to my library. It makes me laugh, keeps me curious, and is usually relaxing.
You can only play as a boy character, a teenager who has lost his memory during a cruise ship accident. The technology is early 1900's, in a fictional country similar to the US. However, this world has developed the splendid Trotmobile, a sort of 19th century robot that requires a pilot. Your trotmobile can be used for commerce or combat and is the focus of the game. However, you will also spend a good deal of time meeting people, running errands, and raising money to support your other habits.
The game should not be taken too seriously, partly because is intentionally light, and partly because it's a bit choppy in places, and you'll be disappointed if you depend on every plot twist to make sense, every action to have a logical result. But if you can take the story with a grain of salt, it is wonderful and very charming. The graphics are not first-rate, but they do have a unique style and simple charm.
Technical prowess is not one of the game's strong points. There are sometimes load lags, as you pass into new territories, which seem unreasonably long. The camera work is sometimes choppy, and the camera angles are occaisonally frustrating. I find myself able to forgive these weaknesses for the sake of playing in this game world, but it is something to consider, if technical finesse is important to you.
Parents: Language used in the game is almost completely mild (there will be the occasional minor expletives). There is no graphic sexual or violent content. There are mild references to romance, as dating is a part of the game. There is also violence, as you'll be clubbing and shooting mechanical opponents fairly regularly, but it's all within tasteful limits, in my opinion. I would let a small child watch me play without any worries. A lot of girls might like this game, so it's a real shame they didn't allow for a female lead character.
The reviewers here critical of this game should probably be playing a more mainstream, less artful game. This game is for the rest of us, who enjoy a break from the dull, repetitive products that come from the major game houses.
- Published on Amazon.com
I wanted this game for some time and I came across it at a local game store after years of searching online for a good price. And this game does not disappoint... much...
See, this is an open world game with giant robots and RPG elements and dungeon crawling. It has a rhythm game that is fairly good and a customization system worth mentioning on both your player character and vehicle. The story is nice, something that might be in a well budgeted anime. The animation, as well, is anime-esque. The story holds up on it's own and is worth playing to discover the happenings in this world. The Vehicles, TROTBOTS, are interesting too, having elements of Armored Core customization and combat.
But the vehicle controls are a pain. Each toggle controls the respective leg. Left toggle for left leg, right toggle for right leg. When you are trying to maneuver around enemies, missiles, and obstacles it can be quite a chore. What should be a tutorial battle becomes a fight for survival, much less the later levels difficulty.
Get this game because it is a beauty on PS2 and a great deal of effort was put forth to bring it to us in the states. It is a terrific title worth playing, especially if you are a giant robot fan.
If you need a score, then I give this an 8/10.