From Bubblegum Crisis and Macross to MechAssault to that epically epic Robojocks, to Pacific Rim and finally toTitanfall, mechs have been eating up a choice piece of real estate in our culture’s imagination for nearly thirty years.
For the record, we’re talking about a machine that has never existed outside of the entertainment industry, a hypothetical idea that for all sorts of reasons (excluding looking badass) will never be an efficient combat machine. That doesn’t matter one lick because if the genie ever grants me one wish, I’ll be dropping my kids off at school in my Ogre.
There’s just something about the mech that keeps people coming back for more. It’s got all the fossil fuel machismo of a V8 muscle car. Mechs are baked together with enough firepower to take over the Ukraine, but more than that, it’s a walking, fire spewing metaphor.
The melding of man and machines, wherein our instincts are still valid is one part of the appeal.
“Still no plug for my iPod”
It resonates on the screen, even when it’s not a central part of the movie (Aliens, Avatar, Matrix, Suckerpunch…) but where they really shine is in games, because who wants to watch someone pretend to pilot one when you can do it yourself?
And people take it seriously too.
In 2002 there was enough interest in the genre that Capcom decided to fund and release a game for the Xbox. The title could only be played with a boogie board-sized, special edition controller.
The Steel Battalion “controller” was the most obtrusive piece of peripheral hardware this side of a Guitar Hero drum kit. And easily the coolest thing in the world, ever. It was, and is, the pinnacle of devotion to the genre and was, tragically, way cooler than the only two games you could use it for.
A Steel Battalion controller will run you about $200 on Ebay if you want one today. Twelve years later. “It’s… beautiful…”
Fast forward a decade. We’ve experienced the Armored Core salad days on last gen consoles, the insanely under-appreciated Front Mission Evolved, and the disappointment of Mechwarrior. We’ve been through the million-year wait for a full version of Hawken, but frankly come March 11 you can set them all on fire.
All I want to play is Titanfall.
“Yeah yeah, we'll keep waiting for a console release”
The buzz surrounding Titanfall is deafening.
It’s not only promising to buttress “not-lagging-at-all” Xbox One sales, but it’s being toted as a COD killer. Why would you ever waste time playing a FPS where you don’t get to jump into mechs whenever you want?
We can’t ever remember this sort of build up to an original title, and by all accounts the good people at Respawn appear to have delivered something pretty goddamn spectacular. It’s a little early to call it, but if this isn’t the best selling mech title of all time we’ll be surprised.
Regardless, the prospect of near seamless gameplay transition from ground fighter to “Titan” is enough to get us riled up,
On a side note, if anybody at Respawn is reading this, I’m an adult now, so my wife says I can have a dashboard controller if you make one… just saying.