Review by Keith_da_Hybrid
Wow...so many choices...
When people think mecha, the kinds of mecha that probably come to mind are the ones created specifically for killing the enemy army or some kind of alien threat. However, imagine, if you will, if mecha were created in a more peaceful enviornment, and they become part of everyday life. That's kind of the idea behind the backstory of the world of Steambot Chronicles, and it's a pretty neat one at that.
The game opens up as you, a young lad named Vanilla, awake on a shore near a shipwreck. You're found by a girl named Corriander (or just Connie), who came to pick up herbs for her sick mother when she came upon your body. Shortly afterwards, a mysterious assailent causes the only path out of the beach to be blocked. Not to worry, though, as there jumps happens to be a Trotmobile, a gas-steam powered bipedal vehicle, nearby to help you out.
From the very beginning of the game (and even before), you're given a large array of choices. You can expect to come across areas on a regular basis where you'll be given a list of choice for actions that you wish to undertake. These decisions will make up what kind of personality Vanilla has, wether he be an all-around nice guy, a rude crude dude, or a greedy little son of a gun. These decisions also affect how other people think of Vanilla. While not all of the choices have a major bearing on the game, some of them could very well determine the outcome of the game.
The choices aren't just limited to what Vanilla is like, but also what you can do during the game. You can also customize your Trotmobile to your liking, like a simplified Armored Core. Your can build your mecha from a variety of available parts, as well as change its name and paintjob. You also have a lot of freedom of what you can do while driving your mecha: compete in fighting tournaments, carry cargo from location to location, etc.
Your actions aren't limited to your mecha, neither. You have a lot that you can do while taking a walk on the town: buy some new clothes, rent an apartment, invite your favorite lady over for some "hot cocoa" (don't worry, the game's child-friendly), and play instruments. In fact, Vanilla becomes part of a band early on, and there's a variety of instruments he can utilize, from harmonicas to guitars, trumpets to violins, cellos to even an accordian.
Controlling the mech takes a while to get used to, but after you get a hang of it, it becomes second nature. Battling enemies while traveling between towns can, however, get dull, repetitive, and booring. The boss fights and arena battles, however, are always fun and are a joy to look forward to.
The sound of the game is quite good. Most of the tunes in the game are calm and relaxing, though they don't stand out, and sound is your typical fair of clanks and crunches and booms. What really stands out are the vocal tracks, all of which you will enjoy and NEVER grow tired of. The voice acting is also good, a rarity among games coming over from Japan.
The game is a little short, however, but with multiple ways you can play, the replayability for this game is great.
This is yet another sleeper hit that may never have its day in the sun amongst mainstream gamers, but if you find it in a store, go ahead and give it a try. I promise, this game will not disappoint. :)
Rating: 4.0 - Great
Product Release: Steambot Chronicles (US, 05/23/06)
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