the expensive xbx game

So, for a long time I thought of Steel Battalion as “that expensive game.” Slowly, though, ever so slowly, it wormed its way into the gottahaveit center of my brain. Steel Battalion was one of the big reasons I wanted an XBX, in the end. Less than a week after my wife gave me the XBX, I gave myself Steel Battalion.

It was a big purchase. The game (along with its famous controller) cost two-hundred dollars (plus twelve in tax) and weighed… well, a lot. When I went back to Gamecrazy after a few days, one of the clerks edged over and nearly whispered to me, “Hey. Aren’t you the guy who bought Steel Battalion?” Yes, I said. Yes I was.

Just owning the game made me feel like I’d gained some amount of XP against my Gamer class. After all, it comes with a Controller +1 (+2 vs Mech Combat).

It took me about fifteen minutes to unpack the game, assemble the controller (it has ribbon cables!) and find a tolerable place to sit. Once I’d done so, it took me another ten minutes to figure out which control to use to enter my name. I mean, have you /seen/ that controller? It’s freaking huge!

Once the game started, there was a short (and very underwhelming) intro scene, in which a still image of my drill instructor told me how he’d be kicking my ass up and down the training field. Unfortunately, circumstances forced me to jump into a VT (SBAT’s name for a mech) and start fighting. I was horrified (and happy) when no voiceover told me how to start the VT up. Instead, my character said, “Well, better check the manual!” I ran my first mission with one eye on the screen and the other on the manual. Given that it was dark in the room, I tried to do my reading by the flash of the 100mm cannon.

Oh, it was glorious.

Unfortunately, playing a game that requires two-fisted controller manipulation as well as pedal-pushing does not lend itself to play on a sofa. It also doesn’t help that the right (gun-control) stick is pretty tight. I need to find a cheap, easy-to-stow chair and table. My desk chair might do, but then the desk is left chairless. I guess Capcom could’ve made this a $500 game and included a small cockpit structure. That might’ve been too much, though.

At any rate, I really enjoy the game so far, but it’s going to stay stowed for a while, until I find a good way to sit and play it.

Written on April 15, 2003
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