In the first new game announcement we’ve seen since the Great Kanto earthquake, Konami has unveiled a new mech battle game called Steel Chronicle. Not content to sit around while Namco and Sega have all of the mech fun, Steel Chronicle appears closer to Sega’s Border Break than something like Gundam. From what I can tell by looking at the flyers, it looks to be a sort of Border Break meets Earth Defense Force as the primary villains are apparently some sort of alien bugs that you must exterminate using your powered mech suits (almost like a Dalek, get it?). The cabinet design isn’t too far off from what Sega did with BB either but the control scheme is – while Border Break uses something that’s like a joystick/mouse combo, this uses a unique set of dual joysticks (pictured in the thumbnail to the right). The game is currently on test in Akihabara, assuming it does well it should be released in Japan sometime later this year. You can see a bundle of flyers at the AM-Net Blog
One question I do have to ask though is why Japan gets all of the mech fun these days? I wrote about this in my article entitled: “Missing In Action: Tanks, Planes, Mechs and more“, discussing how anything involving some sort of mechanical device packed with firepower is a match made in heaven for the arcade format. It’s a similar reason why driving games are so well-loved in this industry, because the racing game done right has all of the advantages that the arcade cabinet provides, giving the player more to interact with thus recreating a more tactile experience that blurs the line between reality and the virtual, more so than a home experience typically does. I think it also applies to war machine games revolving around mechs. It has been done before outside of Japan but especially in the mech genre there hasn’t been much to talk about over the past decade, just BattleTech (which is very rare to find) and a port of Mechwarrior 4 to the Tsunami motion multi-game systems(also uncommon).
There haven’t been a tremendous amount of mech games on modern home consoles either and one could say that it’s because people don’t care for mech games like they do for first-person shooters which is true but I think that mech games on a console generally leaves you wanting for more. Something that an arcade experience could provide, with proper controls, a nice surround sound system and screen, perhaps with some thumping force feedback in the cabinet. Granted that there are a couple of nice mech games I’ve played on PC or console – most memorably Mechwarrior 1 & 2 (PC – didn’t care much for the console adaptations I played of 2), Iron Solider 1 & 2 on the Atari Jaguar, and Steel Battalion on the Xbox. Out of those Iron Solider felt the most “arcadey” to me, perhaps because it doesn’t involve a lot of planning into how your mech is designed or used during play. Either way what I’m getting at is that it’s well time for a mech game to make it’s way to arcades outside of the Land of the Rising Sun.