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Column: Battle Klaxon

COLUMN: 'Battle Klaxon': The Easy Genius Of Steambot Chronicles

August 15, 2009 12:00 PM |

['Battle Klaxon' is a bi-weekly GameSetWatch-exclusive column where traveling games journalist Quintin Smith fights to win a bit of glory for the beautiful, brave but overlooked games that people are missing in their lives. This week: Irem's dainty non-linear action-adventure, Steambot Chronicles.]

There's been a lot of chatter over the last few years about the death of the adventure game, and that's never sat right with me. It seems a sentiment spread mainly by Schafer-ites who have an unhealthy amount of nostalgia for the point'n'clicks of their youth, folk who'd rather wax sentimental than look forward. I say: The adventure game is enjoying a new lease of life in Irem's Steambot Chronicles for the PS2, and this year the sequel comes out on PS3.

Steambot's lack of recognition as an adventure game can probably be blamed on it getting categorised (correctly) as a mech RPG set in the 1920s. It takes place in a Japanese re-imagining of the past where the rise of the automobile happens side-by-side with the rise of the 'trotmobile'. Imagine the penny farthing of the mech world and you're there. Your rakish, shipwrecked, amnesiac (!!) protagonist owns a trotmobile, and a big chunk of the game is in piloting, upgrading and customising your little machine.

But that's not what I want to talk about, because where the design of this game gets really interesting is in absolutely everything that happens around this central concept.

As I said before, Steambot Chronicles is a great adventure game, and this is because the guys at Irem understand that an adventure isn't about fighting or leveling up or sex scenes or a funny script or idiotic puzzles, it's about a journey. So they made Steambot Chronicles a game with a positively fierce focus on the mundane; a game about all the little stuff that happens on the way.

COLUMN: 'Battle Klaxon': Warhawk's Hidden Delights

July 14, 2009 8:00 AM |

['Battle Klaxon' is a new bi-weekly GameSetWatch-exclusive column where traveling games journalist Quintin Smith fights to win a bit of glory for the beautiful, brave but overlooked games that people are missing in their lives. This week: The difficult PS3 rebirthing of Warhawk.]

"Warhawk?" I said, sitting for the first time on my new roommate's tiny sofa. This was last October. We'd just ordered pizza, filling the dirty room with cheesy anticipation.

"Warhawk," he replied, turning on the TV. "Secret best game on the PS3!"

"...Warhawk?" I asked again. This guy was never wrong, so it's not like I was skeptical. But really... Warhawk?

"Warhawk," he said, finding a match instantly and handing me the pad.

Six months, two failed relationships and one wet winter later and I'd logged a hundred hours into Warhawk. Not only that, I must have happily watched my friend play a dozen more. And it's not like I can blame my addiction on getting really good at it or anything. I mean, I got good, but not good.

So what kept me playing? And, more importantly, what made me agree that Warhawk really is the secret best game on the PS3?