T (Teen) Release Date:
June 30, 2009Screenshots: LinkAmazon: Buy Now!Written By:
Atlus is known for releasing titles that that donít fit the traditional mold of what American gamers are sue to playing on a consistent basis, which result in their titles either being alienated or scrutinized for its originality. Case in point with Steambot Chronicles, an epic PS2 title that was well done, but not well received. Looking to bring this unique action/mech experience to a new audience, Atlus released a sequel for the PlayStation Portable known as Steambot Chronicles: Battle Tournament. While equally rewarding of an experience, one too many issues with game design has forced this sequel to take a backseat to the original.
For those steampunk enthusiasts, you will be happy to know that Steambot Chronicles takes place within the world of steampunk. The world has two classifications for vehicles, either being your normal run of the mill cars or a Trotmobile, a bi-peddle mech. Battling Trotmobiles is a huge sporting event known worldwide, and one of the primary focuses of Battle Tournament. There are several different missions to take on throughout the game, however most of them lead you straight back to arena battles.
When you fire up you copy of Battle Tournament, you are given the option to play through the story of the game with either a male or female character. Once you decide on your gender, you tasked with naming both your character and your Trotmobile, which isnít a daunting task at all. With no history to speak of, your character is poised to set up a future for him/her as the story moves along. Early within the game you will meet up with a Trotmobile mechanic by the name of Venus, who instantly falls in love with your mech and ultimately becomes your best friends. Venus will instantly proposition you to become your personal mechanic, which is of course nice of her. No matter how much you argue about women not knowing much about vehicles doesnít matter, she will become part of the team keeping you and your mech in tip top shape. At the end of the day, you are definitely glad you have Venus by your side instead of anyone else.
Battle Tournamentís action is setup in two distinct fashions; either servicing your Trotmobile or in some sort of battle. For your character and Trotmobile to rise the ranks and become uber famous, once must have money. As well all know, money is the currency known worldwide and because of this, you must take on jobs in order to earn your fair share of that currency. While the game calls these missions Jobs, for the sake of the review I will call them missions. While performing these missions, watching your back, front and sides is key to survival simply because you can be attacked at without warning. Iím not sure about you, but the last job I had didnít have me being attacked by anyone or anything except the harmful sun-rays. Anyways, these missions will ultimately serve as good practice to prepare you for the tournaments as well as getting use to the controls.
Speaking on the controls, Steambot Chronicles: Battle Tournament features one of the best control schemes you will find on the mighty handheld once you get use to the controls of course. The one and only analog stick controls your movement, while pressing either shoulder button --L or Róin order to turn the camera left or right. Each arm of the Trotmobile will be controlled with the square and triangle buttons, while also being able to perform a quick dash with the X button. The D-pad pulls double duty as itís used to pick up items and to also lock onto targets. Spending a few minutes to get all this down is all it takes and once you do, all your attention will be on the action within the game and not the pressing of the wrong button.
Getting back into the gameplay, once you have a couple of missions under your belt, you can head back to Venus to retrofit your Trotmobile in preparations for harder missions and the looming tournament battles. The further you progress through the game, the more body parts you will have access to in order to customize your Trotmobile. Soon enough your Trotmobile will be fitted with some of the best and most damaging equipment money certainly can buy. This includes flamethrowers and some nice wheels to help you get around a lot quicker. Once you feel that you are mentally and physically prepared for your daunting task, itís time to enter the Battle Tournaments.
In order to move up and through the multi-class tournament, once must put in the work both on and off the tournament battle fields. Starting out within the tournament, you are a Class D Trotmobile pilot who must show the world why they will be soon chanting his/her name. You will be required to move through the each and every Trotmobile pilot within Class D before you can move up to the next class within the tournament. The tournament battles will take place within a variety of battle arenas with their own themes and obstacles to overcome. The different environments make for some interesting battle moments. One example is simply being able to hurl wrecked cars at your opponent to do damage to their Trotmobile, making the battle all the more quick and humorous at times.
Seeing as the PSP is more powerful that the PlayStation 2, it was kind of odd to see that the visuals within Battle Tournament are not on par with that of its PS2 counterpart. It seems that Irem Software didnít take full advantage of the mighty handheld, which resulted in some fairly bland textures utilized throughout the game. The saving grace for the visuals comes in the form of the characters and robot fights. The character models are nicely detailed, allowing the player to have a focus point to focus their attentions on despite the lack of detail within the environments. On the audio front, things are held together nicely with solid voiceover work and a musical soundtrack that will strike a chord with your inner dancing demon Those who are fans of Atlus past works will recognize some of the voice talent from past Persona titles.
Taking a page out of the Nintendo DS playbook, if you want to get down in some 4-player bot battles some of your fellow PSP owners, you can do so with only one copy of the game. While this is definitely a plus and can actually help sell future copies of the game to those still on the fence about the game, itís very limited on what can actually be experienced. If there is only one copy of the game in play, then only standard Trotmobiles are used within the multiplayer. Now if everyone has his/her own copy of the game, then everyone can used their tricked-out Trotmobile to see who has the ultimate battle mech.
When I first got into Steambot Chronicles: Battle Tournament, I didnít really know what to expect from the game. I never played the PS2 version before, but had to have a history lesson on the game before I could truly embrace all that Battle Tournament had to offer. Practically the game is spot on with everything from gameplay mechanics, audio work and even the multiplayer experience. The visuals could of benefited from some extra time, but overall is was a solid gaming experience for the PSP.7.5/
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