Ponkotsu Roman Daikatsugeki Bumpy Trot Original Soundtrack


Review by · March 20, 2006

Hiroshi Ebihara’s original soundtrack to the game developed by irem, “Ponkotsu Roman” can be translated as “Junk Romance,” and “Daikatsugeki” is best translated as “Great Riot.” The game is being released in the US (by Atlus) as “Steambot Chronicles.” If the artwork, screenshots, and game scenario have given you the impression that this game is light-hearted, fun, and filled with simple child-like delights, know that the music stays along this route. The result is music that sounds like a cross between Yasunori Mitsuda’s “Hako no Niwa” and Junya Nakano’s “Dewprism.”

One of the neat things about this soundtrack is that, at certain places, songs will directly transition from one to the other. Tracks 9 through 11 all transition smoothly, as do the first two tracks. This little touch of production to the soundtrack gave me the feeling that someone was going the extra mile to impress me. And, considering the general obscurity of this title, I don’t mind being impressed by the little things.

The folky sound is the other thing that really gets you moving. Fiddle, harmonica, banjo, flute, accordion…the fun American sound behind these songs makes for a spectacular soundtrack: not at all epic, but certainly fun and enjoyable.

Some of the best songs on this soundtrack are the battle themes. Samples provided include the Suumu-Suumu Arena Vehicle Battle theme, as well as “Duel.” The latter of these songs uses some interesting rhythmic syncopation, something found on about 20% of the songs on this soundtrack (“Invasion” is another one to consider in the realm of rhythm). There are some mid-paced area themes that manage to blend excitement and relaxation almost perfectly. For this, may I point you to track 28, “Exotic Atmosphere”? This particular song may be my favorite of the bunch.

Another important thing to remember is that the sampled tracks, while being my favorites, are not the cream of the crap. Nearly every track on this album fares just as well musically. The one exception, in my opinion, is the ending vocal track “Music Revolution,” performed by Ryan Kerwin. Take the opening theme to Kodoma no Omocha, but put on a terrible English vocalist, and use the standard 12 bar blues chord progression, and you have “Music Revolution.” When you have lyrics like “my guitar’s the best there is, it’s an awesome sound!”, you know the song is guaranteed to fail. If you want to hear better vocals, pick up the accompanying vocal album featuring five songs by Nadia Gifford.

Team Entertainment rarely releases crap, and Atlus likely chose to localize this game because of its charm (including its musical charm). Let that be a reassurance to you if you’re thinking about getting this album. I wasn’t disappointed with this purchase; indeed, this was one of the most fitting and acceptable videogame soundtracks published in at least a year. Fun and sand-box-style adventures await you with both the game and the soundtrack, so if you’re interested, don’t hold back! This soundtrack is not expensive, selling at many sites (such as Play Asia) for a mere $20.

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Patrick Gann

Patrick Gann

Therapist by day and gamer by night, Patrick has been offering semi-coherent ramblings about game music to RPGFan since its beginnings. From symphonic arrangements to rock bands to old-school synth OSTs, Patrick keeps the VGM pumping in his home, to the amusement and/or annoyance of his large family of humans and guinea pigs.