Steambot Chronicles: Battle Tournament begins with a black screen and the hero or heroine waking up. “We’re here,” a sailor shouts. How should I respond? A.) “Huh!? Already?” B.) “I’m not done sleeping yet..” or C.) “No… Not the tentacles…”
Just like the PS2 game that started the Steambot Chronicles series you choose what your character says. And since this is an Irem game some options are there just for laughs. Steambot Chronicles: Battle Tournament also has more text trees than meets the eye. Before the game starts you pick a gender. This doesn’t affect your stats, but it does affect available text choices. If you select Luna (that’s her default name, the hero/ine and trotmobile can be renamed) option C.) in the opening is “No… Give me back my teeth!” Luna and Apollo, the male protagonist, have their own voice actors too.
The story starts out the same with the hero or heroine dreaming of being a trotmobile colosseum champ in Orion City. After stepping off a ship you meet your first opponent, a bandit picking on an innocent mechanic. Should I step in and help her or try to slip away? Either way the game shifts into arena mode and starts combat. The left analog stick moves your trotmobile. X is for dash and circle makes Milky Way (the default name for your trotmobile) jump. Both of these moves drain a bit of the boost meter, which automatically recovers when you’re not leaping and dashing. Now, it’s time to do some damage to Desperado. Square controls the left arm and triangle activates the right arm. You can customize your trotmobile with different weapons on each arm. A flamethrower/boomerang combo turns Milky Way into a long range fighter. Equip two maces and you’re a melee robot with a special combo. Sometimes you get bonus new moves if you equip the same weapon on both arms.
After I rescued Venus her portrait popped up and she said “thanks” in many words. Unlike other Japanese developed games Steambot Chronicles: Battle Tournament isn’t heavily influenced by modern anime. The character art looks like more like 1970s manga than Dragonball. You won’t see brooding characters with lots of belts here. Everyone, even your opponents, are cheerful.
Venus took me back to her shop and repaired the trotmobile. She also explained I couldn’t enter the tournament yet. I had to build fame and a bank account first. How? By going to the employment office and getting a job (read: missions). So far missions have been fetch quests like leaving town to get lumber or leaving town to retrieve spring water in a backpack barrel. Before I could cut down trees I had to buy a saw and equip a flatbed on my trotmobile to carry the wood. Outside of town, rogue trotmobiles attacked me with missiles and seemed to respawn in the same place. These mechs break after three trotmobile punches. Procuring the lumber is 80% of the mission. The last 20% is talking to the person who filed the job (shown on an in game map) and then reporting to the job office for pay and precious fame points.
Beating around three missions unlocked a story mission with instructions to chop down a giant tree. Hostile bandits appeared after the tree fell and demanded my valuables. Should I confront them? Surrender my wallet? Offer my trusty mechanic Venus? You get to choose, sort of. I picked the most absurd option, giving the bandits Venus. She was rightfully upset, but the bandits didn’t take her. I ended up fighting all three of them at once and they were just like any regular missile shooting rogue trotmobile. To mix things up, I threw them into each other.
Finally, I had enough fame to enter the lowest rung of the tournament. Rank D matches were one on one trotmobile fights, usually against an inept driver. I paid the entry fee, met my first opponent, and crushed him by jamming square and triangle. The second opponent was a ranged fighter with a gun arm. She was more evasive, but as soon as I got in her face it was over. Challenger number three was tricky. This trotmobile had a tricycle instead of legs and kept trying to throw me. I tried the same strategy, but my trotmobile wasn’t fast enough to grab him. So, I just went mace crazy. The CPU stood its ground and blocked. When I finally backed it into a corner it suddenly stopped blocking and stood there. The fourth opponent was the toughest, since he also had two maces and the super double mace bash move. When that battle was over I was declared the rank D champion, but couldn’t move on to rank C.
I just wasn’t famous enough.