Steel Battalion – THE Simulation Game

Nov 17, 2011
2011 Nov 17
GregaMan

Man, the original Xbox is ten years old this week. If it were a human, it’d be studying Human Growth and Development in certain counties. That’s about all I remember from being age ten, but it is an auspicious occasion nonetheless!

Capcom’s representation on the original Xbox was admittedly rather sparse, but there was one title that clearly stood out not only as Capcom’s greatest Xbox game, but as one that was–and still is–fundamentally unrivaled.

I speak, yes, of Steel Battalion, or as it’s more commonly known, “the game with the controller.”

By that, I mean the controller.

Just look at that behemoth, that wonder of modern engineering. The Steel Battalion controller, which launched at the mecha-sized retail price of $200, featured some forty buttons, two control sticks, three pedals, and a hell of a lot of blinking lights. With the game costing an extra fifty bones on top, not to mention the spatial limitations found in most Japanese homes, you couldn’t help but wonder why–oh why–Capcom would exert the time, effort, money, and resources into such a project. And to be sure, the peripheral did not break any sales records. But in the words of Producer Atsushi Inaba (of Clover fame), Steel Battalion was not made to rake in a large profit, but rather “to show what can be done in the game industry that can be done in no other.”

And that it certainly did. The game, which was a mech simulator, offered a true “simulation” in the purest sense, with an unprecedented level of control and immersion. From starting up the machine to flicking on the windshield wipers, the players was in complete control. The controller even had an eject button; if you didn’t press it in time to escape your exploding mech, the game would erase your save file. Tough, but all in the name of an immersive experience. And some folks got really immersed .

Also, check out this gorgeous music.

 

The future holds big things for Steel Battalion with the upcoming Steel Battalion Heavy Armor, which will release next year as an Xbox Kinect exclusive. While it may seem strange to swap the most complex controller in the world for a minimalist controller (EDIT: Heavy Armor actually uses the Microsoft Kinect and Xbox 360 controller in tandem), this effectively eliminates all limitations, meaning that the game will allow even more control and deeper immersion–not only over your mech, but over the pilot inside, from opening the hatch to high-fiving your mate. Plus, this time it won’t cost players an arm and a leg. Here’s the latest trailer if you missed it.