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Video Game: Steambot Chronicles

A relaxing non-linear adventure! Get ready for... STEAMBOT CHRONICLES!!

Steambot Chronicles is an Action RPG made for the PS2, known as Bumpy Trot overseas. The game is set in an Steam Punk Alternate Universe where most daily tasks are handled by steam powered mechs, affectionately known as Trotmobiles. The main character, Vanilla, wakes up on the shore of Seagull Beach with amnesia, awakened by a girl who's part of a band called the Garland Globetrotters. Finding an abandoned and beat up trotmobile nearby, he agrees to help her reunite with her friends in the nearby town, while also trying to rediscover his lost past. Supposedly.

Said to be like Grand Theft Auto if you removed every shred of psychopathy from the mix, Steambot Chronicles offers a cheery Cel Shaded world with a massive amount of SideQuests, MiniGames, fashion, music, and myriad other ways to completely waste your time. The game has a massive array of choices, from what Vanilla says, to what Vanilla wears, to what Vanilla does, ninety percent of which does not actually matter as far as plot is concerned, but are quite effective as a means to... completely waste your time.

The game didn't sell particularly well, at least partially thanks to its incredibly laid back style, as well as load times and occasionally wonky controls. But the world is interesting, and there are far worse ways to do.. ... uh... whatever it is you do in this game.

It was later followed by Steambot Chronicles Battle Tournament, a PSP game taking place sometime after the first game. It did away with most of the elements Steambot Chronicles was known for, focusing purely on the Trotmobile battles and the side quests.

It attracted a small cult following, and was going to get a proper sequel due in part to this, BumpyTrot 2, was announced in 2006. It was in Development Hell for years before finally getting cancelled along with a slew of other games, shortly after the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami.

This game provides examples of:

  • Adam Smith Hates Your Guts: The Bloody Mantis takes over the only oil refinery, sending prices for fuel, parts, and repairs sky-high.
  • An Interior Designer Is You: Halfway through the game, you're given the opportunity to rent one of several apartments, which you can decorate at your leisure. Although you can just buy furniture, you can make them really fancy if you're willing to tromp around some optional dungeons for treasure (and don't plan on handing them to the museum).
  • American Kirby Is Hardcore: The Japanese boxart used the same cutesy art style you see at the top of this page. The American boxart, on the other hand, features a more serious-looking Vanilla outfitted with goggles (which can be obtained in the game, but not worn on your on your head), a hotter-looking Connie, and a more badass trotmobile.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: All the giant robots Vanilla fights.
    • The first boss of the game, the Don Elephant ll. Its a giant steam-powered mech that is covered in mounted cannons and takes a huge amount of damage before its destroyed. The catch? Once you jump onto its back you can just beat it to death with little resistance. Also it moves so slow that its no real threat even to the weaker trotmobiles.
    • The giant spider mech in the forest has an easy to hit weak point in its center. It main form of attack, it's spike feets, cannot hit Vanilla as long as you stay in its center.
    • The battleship fleet that you fight outside of Happy Garland. Similar to the Don Elephant they can be destroyed by attacking their weak points on their backs where their guns can't hit you.
  • Beware of Hitchhiking Ghosts
  • Book Ends: After the end of the game, you have one last mission : find the various members of the Garland Globetrotters, one year after Vanilla left. For doing this, you have to travel to every location you visited during the main game, in the reverse order of how you got there. You finally reunite with Connie on the very beach where Vanilla awakened on at the start of the game.
  • Cel Shading
  • Char Clone: Elder the White Phantom.
  • Crapsaccharine World: Wow, this world is so bright and cheery! Hey, this cute girl likes me! Hey, that song she's singing is.. pretty damn depressing, actually. Wow, this backstory is.. that's pretty awful. Oh, geez, these people lost their livelihood. Oh Crap, these people are dying.
  • Cynicism Catalyst: Late band member Chicory's death caused a pretty huge ripple of dysfunction through its members... some way more than others.
  • Dastardly Whiplash: Bergamot, the face of the Bloody Mantis. He starts off pretty high class, but then he starts talking. And if you take the hero path, the final confrontation with him is practically a parody.
  • Dialogue Tree: Everything Vanilla says is selectable, although most of it doesn't actually matter. It does, however, provide you the ability to make him anything from a pure hearted hero to a vaguely heroic jerk to a disaffected villain to a complete psychopath... through dialogue.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: The Hot Cocoa option in the dating minigames.
    • A serious example - when Vanilla and Connie have to go through the shack to reach the trotmobile, Connie seems very unhappy to be in, near, talk, hear or even think about the shack. It has very little connection with Chickory's death by getting hit by a car and if you ask her some more about it, she'll say she used to basically play with her dolls in the shack, but "a lot of things happened" and now she doesn't like going in there. Other than some old memories of Chickory being in there, to someone who isn't hip to the plot it almost looks and sounds like a setup for some Lifetime movie type of story about a little girl being raped by some pedophile. Though nothing like that ever happens in the game. Especially with it being a rated T game.
  • Downer Ending: The hero ending, believe it or not. Even though you've saved the country from certain doom Savory is shot dead by Bergamot, Dandelion is executed for his attempted coup, and the world's society remains as corrupt and apathic as it was when Chickory died. Vanilla departs on the Juniper Berry, leaving all his friends behind, and the Garland Globetrotters break up and go their separate ways. When Vanilla returns a year later he can reunite with Connie, but the band remains broken and Basil is left a broken man living under a bridge.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: For all his importance to the story, you only find out that Dandelion was executed for his crimes in your absence through an offhand remark and a new grave site.
  • Edible Theme Naming: Many of the main characters are named after herbs and spices (Vanilla, Coriander, Dandelion, Savory, etc.).
  • Evil Pays Better: Subverted. Although you can become evil halfway through the game, doing so prevents you from acquiring most of the best equipment. Including the Infinity+1 Sword, wielded by Elder, which you can only get from being a "true" hero (meaning you can't choose the bad guy path at all). Plus, you end up in prison for a year and lose half your money once you finally get out.
  • Face-Heel Turn: Savory if you decide to stay on the hero path, or you if you decide to join up with the Bloody Mantis gang halfway through the game.
  • Five-Man Band: Vanilla and the Garland Globetrotters are a literal five-man band. Connie is the lead singer and guitarist, Savory provides backup vocals and piano accompaniment, Marjoram plays the drums, Basil plays bass, and Vanilla plays... whatever the hell you want him to play (though his signature instrument is the harmonica). Fennel was originally a member of the band, but he quits to seek out his own sound about a third of the way in.
  • Flight: A pair of brothers at Vision Ranch work throughout the game to make a flying trotmobile, to the chagrin of Dr. Nutmeg, the inventor of trotmobiles, who continually attests that he did not design trots to fly. If you follow the hero storyline, though, you can help create the world's first flying trotmobile, to the delight of Nutmeg and the brothers, and to the shock and awe of the villainous Bergamont.
  • Floral Theme Naming: Virtually every character of any significance is named after some sort of plant — most are also seasonings, as mentioned above, but some are just plain old plants.
  • Foreshadowing: In Dandelion's house, you can see Elder's jacket hanging above his bed.
  • Funny Afro: One of the barbers gives only funny afros to his customers.
  • Gotta Catch Them All: The license plates. There's 30 of them and a few can be easily Lost Forever. And they do nothing.
  • Guide Dang It: You will not be able to get 100% on your first try. Items can be Lost Forever, quests can become Unwinnable, and the game can become Nintendo Hard when trying to find all the trotmobile parts, plates, children's story books, instruments and so on.
  • Hot Coffee Minigame: Sort of. You can invite a girl over to your apartment for a date and the minigame begins when she arrives. You start with a set number of hearts and various actions use up hearts. If you increase the number of hearts enough and select the right actions the screen will go blank while a short "hot coffee cutscene" plays where the girl compliments the quality of the hot cocoa you serve her.
  • Humongous Mecha: All the non-trotmobile bosses you fight are these.
  • Identity Amnesia: Vanilla, the main character, wakes up at the beginning of the game with no idea who he is. Interestingly, you get to choose his background about halfway through the game, and it makes absolutely no difference for the rest of the game.
  • Inevitable Tournament: One you're not actually required to win.
  • Inexplicable Treasure Chests: All over the place from farm houses to city buildings to the middle of nowhere the entire world has these stashed about everywhere. Some do make a little sense by appearing in people's rooms and containing stuff like clothes or books, but random chests appearing out on wooden walkways and containing things like fresh bread are pushing it. This trope really gets taken Up to Eleven in the ruins though, where Vanilla can find ancient artifacts inside fancy treasure chests. (Though he can also find spoiled food that can make him sick if he eats it.)
  • Interface Screw: Combined with Damn You, Muscle Memory as well, a somewhat subtle example of this exists in the fossil mining aspect of the game. Every menu in the game starts with the cursor on the first menu option, except when extracting fossils, where it defaults to the bottom menu option instead. As well, there's a short input lag before the game will recognize any input on this menu and this one only, meaning that inattentive players who already know about this "feature" can easily select the bottom option anyway. And of course, there are numerous bugs surrounding fossil mining that can easily result in the Museum Plate being Lost Forever, including abandoning a fossil load. Which is exactly what you do if you pick the bottom option.
  • I Have Many Names: Vanilla will receive titles usually based on what your mech is and how full you are.
  • Karma Houdini: Dandelion to the extreme on the villain path. He literally just goes back to his day job after it's all over, despite being the mastermind who was running the show, and nobody even so much as suspects him.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: Good luck completing the photo album.
  • Loads and Loads of Loading: That and the combat controls killed the game for some people.
  • Lyrical Dissonance: Actually, despite their upbeat attitude, most of the songs sung by the Garland Globetrotters are pretty damn depressing. You probably won't notice the first time you hear them, though.
  • Mask Power: Elder, the "White Phantom", hides the upper half of his face, and holds the championship title for mech battling. His Reveal as Dandelion marks a surprising shift in personality as he reveals his Axe Crazy goal.
  • Mini-Mecha: The Trotmobiles are basically two-seaters on legs. Most emphatically not the bosses.
  • Not Evil, Just Misunderstood: The Killer Elephants. Their boss just wants to go to the moon, but the only way to make the money needed to make his dream possible is banditry.
  • Nintendo Hard: The instruments, believe it or not. While the Harmonica and Trumpet are so simple you could play them with one hand (almost), things like the Accordian, Organ, Piano, and Electic Guitar will likely test even some of the die hard Rock Band players.
  • Noodle Incident: It takes a huge amount of digging to get even a the barest details on the incident involving what happened to Chicory, and even then, you don't learn all that happened.
  • Now, Where Was I Going Again?: In case the article didn't clue you in, it is entirely possible to end up with five different SideQuests active, get distracted playing music on the street corner for half an hour, and end up with no idea what the hell you were supposed to be doing for any of them. The game does have an in game journal for this purpose, but it's not at all organized or helpful with hints.
  • Outdoor Bath Peeping: If the player completes a particularly frustrating sidequest a hot springs will open up for Vanilla and Connie to visit in the year after mode. Sadly, there isn't a cutscene or any sort of reaction from her programmed into the game... so the only reward the player gets for all their trouble is just being able to spy on her. Also, the game doesn't actually show any naughty bits.
  • Previous Player-Character Cameo: In Steambot Chronicles Battle Tournament, Vanilla appears as the final Rank A tournament match along with the trotmobile he used in the first game, Chamomile II. Apollo/Luna does not get the chance to actually speak with him, however.
  • Red Herring Twist: About the first half of the game is dedicated to Vanilla trying to regain his memories. After being reunited with Mallow, though, Vanilla suddenly regains his memory (the player can determine what kind of past he had), then the rest of the game is devoted to the machinations of the Bloody Mantis.
  • Rhythm Game: Playing music, whether with your band or on the street corner, takes the form of this. The actual input method varies based on what instrument you play, so dependent on your choice you can make things really easy on yourself (Harmonica, Trumpet), or pointlessly hard (Accordion).
  • Science Is Bad: Or at least Dandilion seems to think it is.
  • Side Quest: What the game actually means by 'non-linear'. And there's a ton of them. The main plot is somewhat more firmly on rails.
  • Steam Punk: Well, there's definitely steam going on, but the punk part is pretty subdued.
  • Stepford Smiler: Connie. Big time.
  • The Chick: Connie.
  • The Short Guy with Glasses: Basil.
  • Timed Mission: The desert battle against the Bloody Mantis.
  • Tragic Villain: Dandelion founded the Bloody Mantis and donned the identity of Elder out of anger at an apathetic technology-dependent society and revenge against the one he deems responsible for Chicory's death.
  • Virtual Paper Doll: Vanilla, your avatar, can mix and match various clothes, accessories, and hairstyles to create a variety of styles. Occasionally, NPCs will even comment on them.
    • For example, if you wear a full set of Cowboy clothing (clothes, boots, and hat), Coriander will remark positively on how you look in them if you talk to her.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Many characters won't hesitate to call you out for saying rude or mean-spirited things. Some will also get quite angry if you try to extort money from them.
  • Wide Open Sandbox

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alternative title(s): Steambot Chronicles; Bumpy Trot
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