Not many people played this one, so here's the cheat sheet. Steambot Chronicles, aka Bumpy Trot, aka That Weird PS2 Mech Game Set In The Twenties Where You Play A Harmonica Or Something, is the story of an amnesiac boy who finds a big robot, but don't hold that against it. By now no-one's more allergic to this particular brand of immorally predictable Japanese storytelling than me. Steambot's different. For starters, your robot is not just used for fighting. It's also lorry, a taxi, a stage, whatever you need. And if I was going to compare Steambot to anything in order to make people sorry they didn't buy this, it'd be Harvest Moon.
"Look out for more PS2 Cult Classics in future, following a break for GDC." Well, we didn't say how long the break would be. Finally, then, we return to complete our mission: to dig out the quirkiest and least-publicised gems in the PlayStation 2's monstrous back catalogue. Today and tomorrow we'll complete our mammoth rundown following parts one, two and three, published in February, as we turn the EG Retro light back on at the spearhead of a minor revival. Backward and onward!
Developer Irem has puffed out its chest and confirmed that Steambot Chronicles is in development for PS3.
Having tied up Sony Japan's Rule of Rose earlier this week, 505 Gamestreet has announced that it will publish IREM's Steambot Chronicles for PS2 in the UK this September.
Even if the game turns out mediocre at best, you have to admire publisher Atlus for repeatedly taking risks in bringing some of the most curious, interesting and leftfield Japanese games to a western audience. Having scored its greatest coup with Strategy-RPG wunderkind Disgaea, bringing Nippon Ichi to a quickly enamoured audience, Atlus has gone on to champion titles such as surgeon ‘em up, Trauma Centre: Under the Knife to become one of the most notable diminutive publishers today.
As you might expect from a company that cherry picks strange Japanese games no other publisher wants to take a chance on, the translations are usually lovingly transposed from the original text with wit and flair and each game has a unique hook to make it stand out from the competition, at least in terms of ideology or execution, if not sales.
Steambot Chronicles is the latest title to fit this bill and, brilliantly, it's far from mediocre. Originally known as Bumpy Trot (or, more comprehensively, Poncotsu Roman Daikatsugeki Bumpy Trot) in Japan, Atlus, when trying to decide how to rename the game for the West, first settled on "Relaxing Non-Linear Adventure: Be A Bad Guy If You Want". It's not a great joke - evidenced by the change to the easier on the oxygen, Steambot Chronicles but it encompasses the game's primary aspiration: GTA meets Harvest Moon.