Steel Battalion was a fairly revolutionary game when it came out, as it was a VT (Vertical Tank, or mecha/mech) simulator that used a huge controller that one might have actually seen in the cockpit of such a machine. A set of three pedals- gas, brake, and a handy strafe pedal- as well as a bank of buttons, toggles, and joysticks. The first time I flipped those switches and started up my VT and all the buttons lit up, I was so excited. It was amazing.
Now, if I remember correctly, the peripheral for this game ran about $100, so it would have cost a lovely $150 for the game and controller. I managed to take them off of a friend's hands for just 10.
For ten bucks, it's totally worth it. It's outrageously challenging (...It's hard.) and is a bit difficult to get a hang for the controls (especially if you don't have the manual, like me), but the controller provides a much more realistic simulation than any other mech game out there. That was Capcom's big thing in this game, realism. If your VT blows up and you don't eject, you lose your pilot and have to start over. If you lose enough VT's (but eject each time) you can run out of money and get fired. New file time.
Each VT has a range of primary and secondary weapons you can choose from to give your tank the most firepower, or speed and maneuverability. But you've got to be careful, you can put on too much weight and make it unstable, causing you to be more prone to just tumping over in game. There is also a max weight that cannot be surpassed.
Unfortunately it loses its novelty a bit quickly, after having to play the same mission 10 times only to not have enough money to buy the better VT you need for the next mission. I haven't gotten past the 9th level and haven't touched it in weeks. None of my roommates have either, though one has gotten closer to the end than I.
If you can manage to get the game and controller for less than $50, I'd say go for it. Any more than that and it's not at all worth it. It's huge amounts of fun at first, but once you've gotten bored with it, you then have this monstrous controller sitting around taking up space. Which is why I was able to get mine so cheaply to begin with.
Reviewed by- Cap'n Commie