Review by IVZoso83

Reviewed: 06/12/06

An open-ended game that lasts for many hours, but could be better.

Steambot Chronicles is an action RPG where you pilot bipedal cars called 'trotmobiles' and focuses on the decisions you make for the main character, Vanilla Beans.

Graphics: 8

Steambot Chronicles boasts a very unique art style. The backgrounds are pretty standard and uninspiring, but the characters and trotmobiles have a distinctively comic book-like flair to them. The heavy black outlining makes them stand out and really come alive. With all that said, I enjoyed the colorful storybook feel of the game as a whole. The animations for characters are ok but nothing to gawk at, but I find the trotmobile animations to be particularly impressive. Nothing beats picking up a rival trot, throwing it against a wall, and finishing it off with a deadly sword combo. Overall, the graphics do a good job of portraying the designers' unique art style to the player.

Sounds: 9

The exploration music is pretty standard and not that exciting, honestly. Where the music really stands out is the original songs written by Toshiyuki Sakai and sung by Nadia Gifford. Gifford has a beautiful voice that I'll never get tired of listening to. I can see how some people might get tired of listening to so much adult light rock, but the original songs are a great way to relieve the tedium of the standard-fare RPG music that plays throughout most of the game.

The voice-overs are extremely well-done. Each character that has a speaking part is readily distinguishable from the others, and the acting quality is superb. From the heavy Midwest accent of Echinacea to the overly-dramatized Dino, each character has their own unique style and makes playing through the main story a blast.

Controls: 6

This is where the game suffers. The controls seem frantic at first, but it's actually fairly easy to master piloting a trotmobile after a few hours of gameplay. It takes a while to get used to using both analog sticks to control your trot. The problem is that even when you're used to them, the controls are still clunky. The tank-like response from your trotmobile reminds me of trying to dodge zombies in Resident Evil. Despite the shortcomings of the control scheme, however, combat is surprisingly fluid and fun. The use of jump and boost functions also alleviates some of the frustration derived from the controls.

Gameplay:8

There's just so many things to do in this game I don't even know where to start.

After you get to a certain point in the story, most of the world opens up to you and you're free to continue with the story or do the myriad side quests available to you. As I said before, there's just so much to do in this game that you can probably squeeze close to 100 hours of gameplay out of it. There's a trotmobile arena in each of the towns where you can battle other trot riders risking fame and fortune. Victory in the arena will earn you medals, which will help you rise in rank and be able to fight tougher opponents. You can also trade in your medals for prizes. Or, if you're not into battling, you can wager money on other matches and watch battles from the stands. You can buy stocks in local companies and make a fortune in the stock market. You can bee a freelance merchant and use your trotmobile to deliver goods to places that pay top dollar for certain commodities. You can become part of the transportation system and ferry passengers to places around the world. You can play music a la a Guitar Hero-esque interface to earn tip money on street corners, and each different instrument has its own interface and own unique challenges. You can rent an apartment and decorate it yourself. You can also invite several of the female characters over to your place for dates. You can be a fossil hunter and help a local museum rebuild their collection. These are just a few of the things available to do in this game. The menu in this game is excellent and contains a fantastic help section that can help with most of the problems you'll encounter when playing the game. There's a number of factions you have the option of joining, from the rogue bandit Killer Elephants to the mysterious Bloody Mantis Society. The choices you make determine the outcome of the story and how the other characters react to Vanilla.

Overall: 7

This game is definitely not for everyone, but if you enjoy free form RPGs then it might just be right for you.

Rating:   3.5 - Good

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