Steel Battalion (known in Japan as Tekki) is a sci-fi mecha combat simulation game developed by Capcom Production Studio 4 (in conjunction with Nude Maker) and published by Capcom for the Xbox in Japan (on September 12, 2004), North America (on November 21, 2002), and Europe (on March 28, 2003).
Unlike other mecha games released for home consoles, Steel Battalion makes use of a large, complex cockpit peripheral (with two control sticks and around 40 buttons) that was sold with the game (for about $200 MSRP). This bundle received a limited release and is a rare collector's item.
Set in futuristic 2080, players control a pilot of the Pacific Rim Forces (PRF) as they control large bipedal weapon platforms known as Vertical Tanks (VTs for short) to fend off the invading nationalist force Hai Shi Dao (HSD) in south-east Asia.
The game received two sequels: Steel Battalion: Line of Contact in 2004 (for the Xbox) and Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor in 2012 (for the Xbox 360). Line of Contact was multiplayer-only (via Xbox Live) and made use of the same controller, while Heavy Armor makes use of both the Xbox 360 controller and the Kinect sensor.
The cockpit controller made for Steel Battalion has about 40 buttons and two full-size joysticks, built with everything necessary to control the VT. These are split up into four "blocks":
- Slide Step Pedal - Used for leaping in certain directions.
- Brake Pedal - Used for braking.
- Accel Pedal - Used for acceleration.
- Gear Lever - Used to change gears (Reverse, Neutral, and speeds 1-5).
- Rotation Lever - Used to turn the VT left and right. On the top of it is the Sight Change Stick, which is used to move the main camera.
- Toggle Switches - Five buttons used for the power-up sequence.
- Communication Buttons - Five buttons used to communicate with the current frequency.
- Tuner Dial - Used to change between the five COM frequencies.
- Function Buttons - Nine buttons used for both mission-specific actions and other functions.
- Weapon Controls - Six buttons used for weapon actions (such as reloading and weapon cycling) and some other functions (such as washing dirt from the main camera's lens).
- Aiming Lever - Used for aiming the VT's weapon. On top of the joystick is the Sub Weapon Trigger (which is used to fire the sub-weapon), the Main Weapon button (which is used to fire the main weapon), and the Lock On button (which is used for locking on to enemies).
- Eject-CMD - Used as a last resort for ejecting out of the VT. Unlike other buttons, this one is protected under a
- Multi Monitor Buttons - Six buttons used for toggling the radar sub-screen, cycling between camera modes, and zooming the main camera.
- Cockpit Hatch, Ignition, and Start Buttons - Three buttons used for manipulating the cockpit hatch and for the power-up sequence.
The Vertical Tank, or VT, is the primary vehicle in Steel Battalion. The VTs are bipedal walking weapons-platforms, and they come in three different types. Throughout the game the player unlocks new generations, making them better in every way.
Operating system, start-up sequence and combat functions all change from generation to generation.
- The Light VTs are the mobile class, mostly used for hunting down fleeing enemies, or attacking bases after their main defenses are taken out. These VTs can be airdropped, making them a valuable tactical asset.
- The Middle VTs are the main offensive force. They are both agile, while also having decent weapons and good armor.
- The Heavy VTs have the best armor and firepower. But due to their weight and low mobility, they are mostly used for base defenses and the like.