September 20, 2007 // 5:41 pm
- The PS2 version of the game looked perfectly fine -- more refined than the original, smoother gameplay and a less jarring frame rate -- but on PS3 the game shines. It's not the best-looking title on the console, but the cell-shaded visuals are somewhat similar in quality to Eternal Sonata, albeit with more subdued colors and less fanciful character designs. The "trotmobile" mechs retain their sense of real-world practicality, more closely resembling actual utility vehicles than the baroque robot suits common in most video games. Characters seem like normal people -- both of which seem important to selling the story, which (going by the game's trailer) revolves around an impoverished young man in ragged clothing who falls in love with the pretty flower girl he sees while working as a shoeshine boy on a frigid, snowy street.
The Bumpy Trot 2 video showed off a bit of gameplay, which seems very much in keeping with the original game: the hero sets out in a trotmobile along a girl and man who closely resembled Steambot Chronicles' Connie and Basil. The trio find itself in combat with a massive river-based mobile platform operated by the Killer Elephant gang -- a sequence that seemed almost directly lifted from the first game, and undoubtedly included in the trailer for the sake of comparing the series' PS2 visuals to the PS3 upgrade. Verdict: it's a favorable transition, no question.
The rest of the trailer shows a game world very much in keeping with the aesthetics of the original. The setting feels very rustic in a turn-of-the-20th-century European sense, with cobbled streets in the cities and simple farms in rural areas. Minor pop star Nadia Gifford again provides the music, which sounds much livelier this time around.
There's no way to know if Bumpy Trot 2 will make the jump to becoming Steambot Chronicles 2, but the jump to PS3 should give it a better prospect of coming overseas for American audiences. Irem never quite seemed to get the hang of programming 3D engines for PS2, but hopefully the added power of the new console should make shaky visuals a thing of the past. The company seems determined to turn the series into a cornerstone of its future (a PSP-based Bumpy Trot mech battling game was also on display at TGS), so the extra effort could definitely pay off in the long run.
In any case, the most unique aspect of the series -- its sense of quiet warmth and modest scope -- seems perfectly preserved in the transition to PS3, while looking much nicer.