Steel Battalion is an infamous 2002 game for the Xbox in which the players take the role of a rookie pilot charged with maneuvering a “Vertical Tank” on the battlefield.
The game came packaged with a brilliant conceit: a custom controller featuring two joysticks, three foot pedals, and some 40 buttons, all of which had in-game functions. Brand new, it retailed at nearly $200 US.
The “Vertical Tank” was notoriously difficult to control, and was prone to tipping over, overheating, and exploding. If the player didn't initiate the eject sequence in time, a “perma-death” feature would erase their saved progress. Truly, Steel Battalion is a game for mecha-masochists.
Now a group of fans led by David Shuff have taken the Steel Battalion experience to the next level with the B.S.B.B. (“Big Steel Battalion Box”) Mk II. This custom-made immersion cockpit puts the player in the cockpit of a “Vertical Tank”, complete with flashing lights, a rumble-seat, and numerous other bells and whistles.
Shuff and co. have also introduced a new element: asymmetrical cooperative game-play. While one player pilots inside the box, another player outside of the box acts as a “coach” by viewing their progress on monitors and attempting to explain what the various buttons do via a land-line phone connection.
Check out the B.S.B.B. Mk II in action below:
The original B.S.B.B. debuted in November of 2014 in Brooklyn, New York. The Mark II version will be on display at the Bay Area Maker Faire on May 15 and 16, 2015, in San Mateo, California.
Official B.S.B.M. Mk II home page
Paul Chapman is the host of The Greatest Movie EVER! Podcast and GME! Anime Fun Time.