Steel Battalion (鉄騎, Tekki) is a video game created by Capcom for the Xbox console where the player controls a "Vertical Tank" - a bipedal, heavily-armed mecha. To control the tank and play the game requires the use of a large controller made specially for Steel Battalion.
The controller has two control sticks and around 40 buttons. The game, bundled with the controller included, launched at a retail price of around ¥19,800, £130, or $200. Only limited quantities were made available. These quickly sold out, making the game a collector's piece. It has since been re-released in limited quantities worldwide, with blue controller buttons distinguishing it from the first edition with green buttons.
A sequel called Steel Battalion: Line of Contact was released in 2004, and also used the game's unique controller.
At the beginning of every mission, the player must 'start up' the machine and operating system; this is handled through a series of switches and buttons dedicated to this purpose. If the player does not eject when prompted, the player's in game character will die, and all saved data will be lost, causing the player to start over. If a corner is turned too fast, the machine will tumble over. If the player's machine overheats, its operating system must be reset. The game even simulates window wipers in case of mud hitting the monitor.
A reviewer on IGN joked, "where MechAssault and Robotech wouldn't let us into the cockpit, Steel Battalion won't let us out".
Vertical tanks (VTs) are the primary vehicles piloted in the Capcom video games Steel Battalion and Steel Battalion: Line of Contact. Essentially bipedal walking weapons platforms, VTs are classed by their developmental generation and sub-categorized by their combat role. Primary combat roles are standard combat, assault, support, scout, and fast attack. VTs are categorized by type based on their weight. There are light, middle, and heavy types.
- The Light VT's main focus is on mobility. It has been developed for use in situations where you are chasing after an enemy that is running away or for attacking enemy bases after their main firepower has been destroyed. Light VTs are capable of being transported by air and are designed to be dropped into key drop spots. Their use can be pivotal for air assaults on bases.
- The Middle VT is used as the main offensive force. One of their notable characteristics is that, while they maintain a balance of firepower and strong armor, they are agile and can move quickly. Of the three types of VTs, this one is the most numerous. This VT has the most possible variations through add-on armor and weapons.
- Heavy VTs employ heavy armor and great firepower, but due to this they have decreased mobility compared to other VTs. With their heavy firepower and armor, these VTs are mainly used to protect key locations and bases.
As the player progresses, new generations of VT will become available each sporting a newer, more advanced operating system, startup sequence, and combat functions, as well as a wider cockpit view and layout. New generation VTs also handle better and can support better firepower than previous generations.
Source: Wikipedia, "Steel Battalion", available under the CC-BY-SA License.