Why did I play this?Why did I play this?

Posted on Dec 29th 2020 at 08:00:00 AM by (SirPsycho)
Posted under RPG, action, sandbox, psp

About 5 years back, a strange and interesting game for the Playstation 2 was reviewed called Steambot Chronicles. It can be described in many different words and phrases, such as mecha sandbox rhythm role playing game. Steambot Chronicles was developed by Irem, a company mostly known for arcade games and especially the R-Type series of shoot 'em ups. The transition to its RPG swan song might be a little unexpected to long time arcade fans, especially given the fact that few people even know about Irem's RPG passion project. Somehow, Steambot Chronicles was successful enough for the company to develop a handheld spinoff for the Playstation Portable. Steambot Chronicles: Battle Tournament would release in Japan in 2008, developed and published by Irem themselves. The following year would see the game's release in North America with Atlus as its publisher.

Steambot Chronicles Review: http://www.rfgeneration.c...ambot-Chronicles-3030.php

Battle Tournament starts off quite simply, with the main character moving into Orion City to join said tournament and climb the ranks. The player can choose between a male and female player character. He or she immediately comes across some thugs accosting a young trotmobile mechanic named Venus and help her. Venus offers to become the player's exclusive mechanic as a means of advertising her business as the main character climbs the letter ranking system of the tournament. A male main character even has the option of flirting with Venus and the other main ladies of Orion City. But, as expected, you never really get anywhere as most video game characters are just a failed casanova.

Since this is a handheld game, the gameplay loop is rather simple. Orion City has a work agency that sends the player on missions to earn some money. Once they make enough money, or run out of jobs, they can decide to then move into Orion City's tournament tower to fight and climb the ranking ladder. Once a new rank is attained then new jobs open up at the agency. Both of these critical businesses in Orion City are basically all the player has to interact with in the early game. However, the game world does open up slowly as the ranks are climbed. Even new trotmobile parts are tied to the player's ranking. This system does feel less organic to unlock a new area to explore and do jobs in compared to the original game in the series. Sadly, the option to play a song on a street corner for some pocket change did not transfer over to this handheld game.

The game looks great for a PSP game. Its in full 3D with some 2D character portrait sprites that pop onto screen during dialogue. The art style of these 2D portraits is a bit simplistic and even more cartoony compared to the original PS2 game. But, they still look good and kind of fit the charming, more whimsical nature of the series so far. The music consists of some new songs with plenty of remixed versions of songs from the original PS2 game, such as the title screen theme. Its safe to say that some of these songs that appear in both games were meant to be the series' theme songs. The PSP's UMD optical discs feature great audio quality, especially through headphones, so the music ends up being quite enjoyable. This is even more true if you enjoyed what the first game offered. Battle Tournament even features a large amount of voice acting in the game, every cutscene is fully voiced and some characters around town even have some voiced greeting and goodbye lines.

The years since the review of the first Steambot Chronicles have seen both of these games just rise in price. This is a case of one of those hidden games that almost nobody talks about, but collectors are going crazy for. Battle Tournament is still affordable, with its price around $30 for a complete copy. However, the original PS2 game has spiked immensely in the half decade since its review, with complete copies going for between $100-120. Now is likely the time to buy Battle Tournament, it may not be long until it is also hammered by a possible price spike that crosses over the entire PSP library. The lower price could also just be from its more limited gameplay options compared to the first game. So anybody who might be interested in Steambot's quirky charms would enjoy the original game more than its stripped down handheld spinoff.

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Good write-up!

I love this series, although I never finished the first game.

This game has a few quirks I will never forget, like how you have to insult Venus to get the good ending. There's also a typo on the end title screen where it says Steamboat instead of Steambot.

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