With Steel Battalion Heavy Armor due to hit store shelves on June 19, Capcom has ramped up promotional efforts for the title. As it lacks the gigantic, expensive controller that made its predecessor immediately notable, the Publisher That Mega Man Built had to think outside the box to draw attention to the latest entry in the series, and the result is initially exciting, then sort of baffling, then something of a let down.
Don’t get us wrong, it’s both intensely cool and quite fitting given the game’s giant robot-centric gameplay that Capcom tapped Ghost In The Shell director Mamoru Oshii to create a short film set in the Steel Battalion universe that doubles as both a promotional trailer and an entertaining vignette in its own right, but fans of Oshii’s anime work may be a bit let down by the short. The first thing you’ll likely notice about the clip is that instead of being animated, it’s all live-action. What’s more, instead of featuring lithe, superhuman cyborgs with severe existential crises, the cast of Steel Battalion Heavy Armor: Gosha is comprised entirely of Polish actors who swear like sailors.
Steel Battalion Heavy Armor: Gosha focuses on Polish Vertical Tank pilot Gosha who, like Sgt. Powers from the game, commands her own VT squad. Follow Gosha as she goes to war, but it’s not just a war between global factions,but also the conflict that exists among those under her command.
Despite those qualms we pointed out above, the plot works quite well with established Steel Battalion canon, and certainly trumps the vast majority of video game trailers. Those coming into this thing expecting Oshii’s trademark stylish anime will be disappointed, but if you can put that expectation on the back burner and view this vignette as the dual-purpose trailer/mini-feature it’s intended to be, it’s not a bad effort.
That said, we miss the quirky appeal of the original Steel Battalion controller. Yes, it was $200, and weighed as much as a small child, but when you flipped the toggle to activate your mech’s windshield wipers in an effort to clear off the accumulated grime of a massive battle, you really got a sense of unrivaled immersion. It was a costly stunt that didn’t work out great for Capcom, but it was still one of the coolest peripherals ever created. It remains to be seen if the new Kinect-enabled Steel Battalion Heavy Armor can match that same level of niche appeal, though regardless Capcom seems quite serious about pushing this thing with every trick the company’s PR agents can imagine.