Steambot Chronicles Original Soundtrack
Steambot Chronicles Original Soundtrack
August 3, 2005
Buy at CDJapan
In 2005, Irem attempted to enter the crowded RPG market with Ponkotsu Roman Daikatsugeki: Bumpy Trot (localised by Atlus as Steambot Chronicles) to some success. The soundtrack for the title was created by USP’s Hiroshi Ebihara, a long-term collaborator of Irem on their various franchises. He created a range of compositions for the title in a light folk style, complemented with a few vocal tracks.
Right from the title theme, listeners will gain an idea of what to expect form the soundtrack. Hiroshi Ebihara builds the soundtrack around a folk ensemble focused on acoustic guitar, fiddle, flute, accordion, double bass, and the occasional trapset. Ebihara uses these forces to a range of effects, whether to convey tranquil scenery in “The Port of Reminiscence”, lively developments in “Customise It!”, or springing to action in “Vehicle Battle”. In most cases, he is effective at achieving the desired sound, though not all the tracks are so entertaining on a stand-alone level. Generally he keeps things single by focusing on some lead melodies against a repeated harmony, taking inspirations from the looped compositions of Square’s RPGs.
But make mistake that, while Ebihara sometimes hints at Mitsuda’s compositions, this is no Chrono Cross. While there are plenty of pleasant melodies in this release, few have the memorable quality and special factor to rival the best RPG soundtracks out there. The ecceptions include the liberating flute melodies of “The Bustle of the City” and the chipper fiddle improvisations in “Fly! Flap Flyer”. More significantly, in contrast to Mitsuda’s greats, the tracks don’t really come together to form a cohesive whole or tell a dramatic story. There is a lot of music, but so much of it sounds similar that listeners never really get a sense of direction and start to tire of the folksy styles.
That said, there is a fair amount of diversity in later portions of the soundtrack. The biggest outlyers include the divine pipe organ solo “Solemnity”, the ragtime piano solo “Walking Experiment Workshop”, and the smooth sax-based jazz piece “An Ear Pick”. The battle themes are also quite marked contrasts to the rest of the soundtrack with their lively bluegrass approaches, but prove more transient amusements than dramatic centrepieces. There is also more subtle diversity to contrast different scenes. For example, both “Meadow” and “Transparent Lake” portray soothing scenes using warm flute melodies and acoustic guitar arpeggios in a conventional manner; however, both feature more individualistic touches befitting their individual purposes, particularly the latter which seems to emulate the ripples of water in places.
Some much-needed drama emerges in the last quarter of the soundtrack. “Secret Society”, in particular, creates much tension with its semi-orchestrated approach; it’s not an outstanding composition by any means, but a welcome change nevertheless. “The Great Desert War” and “Decisive Battle in the Sky” develop this orchestral approach and both prove emotionally captivating, melodically rousing compositions. The release ends with one of the songs created for the game, “Music Revolution”. While obnoxious instrumentals, nonsensical lyrics, and out-of-tune vocals, this track surely stands as one of the worst vocal themes in any video game. It was meant to be humorous, but it is actually simply unlistenable. Nadia Gifford’s songs are exclusive to the vocal album instead.
Overall, Hiroshi Ebihara’s soundtrack to Steambot Chronicles is quite effective and distinctive. However, its worth on a stand-alone level might be reduced by its repetitive qualities and unmemorable melodies compared to similar folk-influenced soundtracks in video games. Those who enjoy the music in the game may find this well-presented soundtrack release their time, though.
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Posted on August 1, 2012 by Chris Greening. Last modified on August 1, 2012.