Remember Steel Battalion for the original Xbox?
Of course you don't. My friend Ward was the only person in Portland who actually owned a copy and that was because he was manager of the video game store I worked at when it was released and gave himself a massive discount on the game's $200 retail price.
Plus he was stoned out of his gourd when we convinced him to buy it.
Wait, did I just say it cost $200? Yeah. I did. And why did it cost $200? Because Steel Battalion shipped with the massive controller you see below.
So, despite including the most
ridiculous awesome peripheral ever created, it didn't exactly burn up the sales charts. For the last eight years it had been commonly assumed that the series had gone the way of Gunvalkyrie and Rival Schools.
Capcom however, had other things in mind for their underloved mech simulator. Hit the jump for details.
Alongside a handful of other rad game news (Tron Bonne and X-23 join Marvel Vs Capcom 3 and the awesome 2-D, Xbox Live Arcade Bionic Commando game from 2008 is getting a sequel), the currently ongoing Tokyo Games Show saw Capcom unveil Steel Battalion Heavy Armor, the company's first game designed for Microsoft's upcoming Kinect system for the Xbox 360.
There's lots of explaining (though no mention of crucial details like a release date, or how the game actually plays) so I'll let the official press release do the talking while you let your eyes do the listening:
Capcom, a leading worldwide developer and publisher of video games, today confirmed that Steel Battalion Heavy Armor is in development exclusively for the Xbox 360 video game and entertainment system from Microsoft. Steel Battalion Heavy Armor will utilize Kinect, controller free games and entertainment only on Xbox 360, to deliver an immersive battlefield experience like no other.
Steel Battalion Heavy Armor was officially announced by Keiji Inafune, Capcom’s Head of R&D Management Group and Contents Management Division, earlier today to an audience of media from across the globe at Microsoft’s Tokyo Game Show Keynote Address. “The announcement of Steel Battalion Heavy Armor is further testament to Capcom’s commitment to produce innovative titles that take advantage of the latest technology”, commented Keiji Inafune. “With Kinect’s ability to track your joints and movements and understand where the player is in 3D space and the development expertise of From Software in partnership with Capcom’s own personnel, we are confident of delivering a truly immersive experience for Xbox 360 gamers.”
“We are thrilled to once again work with our partners at Capcom and From Software to develop exclusive, innovative titles,” said Matt Barlow, General Manager, Interactive Entertainment Business Marketing for Microsoft. “It’s exciting to see publishers evolve renowned franchises like ‘Steel Battalion’ with Kinect to create gameplay that you can only experience on Xbox 360.”
Set in 2082, Steel Battalion Heavy Armor depicts a world devoid of computers, where war is waged with rudimentary weapons as new superpowers struggle for dominance. In a twist of fate, the US army has been forced to begin major landing operations on what was once its own soil. In this low-tech era there is one weapon class that will determine the course of the war — the Vertical Tank. VTs are guaranteed to instil fear in enemy forces when they burst onto the battlefield; but they are nothing without the crews who man them. Lacking computer aided weapon and piloting systems, these brave men and women must now rely on skill, intuition and each other to ensure victory.
Long story short, this sequel utilizes the Kinect system to allow gamers to play the game sans controller. Instead, the movement of one's own body controls the huge war robot you'll be piloting. Whether this means 1:1 translations of human body to mech body motions, or if you pantomime pulling a lever or moving a throttle to steer the machine remains to be seen, but it seems like a cool idea in theory.
As a bonus, the use of Kinect means Capcom won't have to shell out big bucks to create another albatross of a controller and consumers likely won't collapse when they see a $200 sticker price staring back at them from the game's retail box.
Also, anyone who read through that whole press release might have noticed the involvement of From Software in Heavy Armor's development. Excited? You should be.
From Software is the Japanese company who brought us the underrated 3D Dot Heroes, the phenomenal Demon's Souls, the hasn't-been-good-in-years-despite-a-fantastic-premise Tenchu series, and most importantly for the purposes of this article, the fan favorite Armored Core line of mech combat games.
Though the Armored Core series hasn't always been great, even its worst entries are still cult classics, and I'm happy to see Capcom drafting From Software into the development of Heavy Armor. If you're going to revitalize a series like this it helps to have the genre's leading authority on your team.
It's like building a car and using the skull of Gottlieb Daimler as a hood ornament; The whole project instantly gains a whole new level of class.