Steambot Chronicles: Battle Tournament is slightly smaller in scale than other games in the series; it only encompasses one very large town and the areas around it. In a world where mecha, or "trotmobiles," serve as cars, your character seeks to become the king of mecha combat by winning tournaments at the city coliseum. You also need a day job, and that bipedal mech's handy for all sorts of standard MMO quests: deliver packages, throw packages into volcanoes, taxi service and good old-fashioned fetch quests. Admittedly, it's nothing too creative, but it's not devoid of fun either, especially since all require the use of your mech.
In Battle Tournament, your quests have visible effects on the town. If you collect ice for the coffee shop and grab a random chunk, you'll hear people complaining about the shop making very bad frappuccinos, as one of Atlus' staff described it. Quests like this introduce the option of challenge, such as finding the best interesting ingredients for the chef, as an example. Even if some don't immediately pay you more, it can be a heady experience to hear people talk about things that have improved because of you.
The actual combat is in real time and doesn't run at a ludicrous pace. Your mech can walk, jump and use its two weapons with simple assigned buttons, with the shoulder buttons guiding the camera. The combat is rather basic, with a strong encouragement to run in and bash things until they stop moving, with very little subtlety. Fortunately, the rewards for winning are nice, and the mech is fairly customizable. In the demo build, it used two blade arms, but several other melee and ranged weapons were available to fit onto the mech's arms. This sort of customization helps add to the game's length.
Battle Tournament's graphics do not present anything especially top-notch, but on the build I played, it ran with minimal load times and was perfectly serviceable, with most of the attention going to the mechs.
On a console where many of the RPG offerings are simply upgraded ports of decent PS2 RPGs (including two of Atlus' other PSP releases, Disgaea 2 and Persona 1), it's nice to see a series getting a proper dedicated release for Sony's portable. Steambot Chronicles: Battle Tournament takes advantage of the PSP format nicely and is very easy to pick up, play for a bit and then stop — a format well-suited to, say, playing on the train. Battle Tournament should be a fine addition to the PSP library.
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