Steambot Chronicles review

  • Free-roaming gameplay
  • Customizing, painting your trot
  • Utter, sometimes unbearable charm
  • The music mini-games
  • Two-bit graphics in a $50 game
  • The controls in combat

This is not a good game to play when you're sleepy, unless you have trouble with insomnia and don’t like to take medication to deal with that problem. Even the most blisteringly action-heavy parts of Steambot Chronicles - the gladiatorial arenas, if you're curious - are pacifying and tranquil because they're just so simple, quirky and adorable. The game's simplicity and charm are what will make it so easy to go back to after it's sent you into controller-flinging fits of frustration.

Less aggressive parts of the game include waiting at traffic lights; discovering the reasons for your amnesia; choosing to be a hero or a cad; touring with a band or practicing an instrument; customizing your giant robot (aka Trot); or just dressing up your character until he's got a look worth taking a scrapbook photo of.

The customization of your character and his Trot is the best-realized of the plethora of things to do in Steambot, with meaningful, gameplay-affecting decisions mixed evenly with choices like whether to dress like a cowboy or a robber. Go into the garage and design the most devastating Trot possible or craft one with a custom kitten license plate and the ability to ferry people or products around town. There are no gang-bangers, gats, cyber-fetishism or even a cool, dangerous name that only an RPG character would have. You're Vanilla Bean, and that's that - you will be adorable! Bad, maybe - but adorable all the same.

This is a great open game, giving you a titanic number of things to do that all look and sound charming. The visual design all but grabs you around the neck and whispers indulgently, "You're the main character in an anime, now." The appeal of being sucked into this little world is intense.

Unfortunately, it all comes at the expense of visual quality and real meat on the gameplay bones. In motion, the art isn't just charmingly old-fashioned - it can get cheap and sloppy. Each of the gameplay types is just another layer of OK to unrewarding, from Trots that control like drunken tanks to the utterly insipid music minigames. If you can wince past the presentation and repetitive, child-simple gameplay, though, you'll find a real gem here. Even with its lumps, Steambot Chronicles is still full of lovable personality.

More Info

Release date: May 23 2006 - PS2 (US)
May 23 2006 - PS2 (UK)
Available Platforms: PS2
Genre: Adventure
Published by: Atlus
Developed by: Irem Software Engineering
ESRB Rating:
Teen: Alcohol Reference, Crude Humor, Fantasy Violence, Language, Suggestive Themes

1 comment

  • CH3BURASHKA - May 9, 2010 7:09 a.m.

    I played a demo once and was hooked. I can't find it anywhere, and buying it for more than 50 bucks on Amazon isn't an option. To the craiglist!

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