The original Xbox tried its hardest to create a firm footing in Japan, and the momentum couldn’t have been stronger with some great third-party support from Japanese developers, who had dedicated some pretty major titles to be exclusive to Microsoft’s first foray into the console wars. Xbox scored the likes of SEGA’s Crazy Taxi and Panzer Dragoon, Capcom’s Steel Battalion and Dino Crisis, Namco’s Spawn and Breakout, and even games by FromSoftware such as Otogi and the once-in-a-lifetime mech action game: Metal Wolf Chaos. Most of Xbox’s Japanese catalogue saw a worldwide release, but the one glaring exception was sadly Metal Wolf Chaos, which made absolutely no sense.
A few reasons are cited as to why Metal Wolf Chaos never saw a worldwide release among them: 1) poor sales in Japan, 2) the Xbox nearing the end of its lifecycle by the time a worldwide release would have materialised, and 3) the over-the-top satire and parody of American politics would likely have not garnered appreciation from players in the United States – or at least so the publishers thought. In any case this was a missed opportunity in every sense, but it didn’t stop the game from becoming a cult hit among importers.
What should have occurred in 2005 has now finally been righted in 2019, as this title once left in Japan has now been born anew as Metal Wolf Chaos XD, fully updated and optimised for Xbox One (not to mention One X ready). Xbox’s best kept secret has finally found the worldwide audience it always deserved.
Metal Wolf Chaos XD takes place in the United States where players step into the shoes of Michael Wilson (yes, there is a relation to 28th President Woodrow Wilson) as the 47th President of the United States (we are currently on the 45th by the way), who is dealing with a country knee-deep in economic downturn and civil unrest, to the point where there has been a revolution of sorts from the double-crossing Vice President to overthrow and takeover the government. As a one-man government, President Wilson arms himself in the titular Metal Wolf mech and is aided by his secretary, Jody, who provides intel. As the President of the United States, it is now up to Michael alone to save his country as the Metal Wolf, and the only way he can win the internal war is by believing in his own justice. If reading all that was enough to get you interested in Metal Wolf Chaos XD, then by all means stop reading right here, and just go grab the game right now.
Metal Wolf Chaos XD is the most self-aware, outlandish, and energised satirical political parody of the United States that pop culture has ever seen. A mech-piloting President who personally has to put a stop to the civil unrest as a one man army is as great as it sounds, and while the world may not have been deemed ready for such a crazy satire on American politics in 2005, in 2019 the timing couldn’t be better as this is arguably the dream we all have now: a superhero, almost Iron Man-esque President saving the world. The writing and dialogue are so deliberately bad that they become part of the entertainment, with voicework typical of the slow-speech seen in SEGA arcade titles from the ‘90s. Imagine every action movie line from the ‘80s and contextualise them for a U.S. President piloting a mech, and it’s even better than what you’re imagining right now. It’s as if the game’s writers challenged themselves to come up with the corniest action hero one-liners they could possibly conjure for a President, and then pushed themselves to add even more cheese. The end result is quite possibly a gift to all gamers, if not all of humankind. Anyone who feels otherwise can suck on a missile punch.
Metal Wolf Chaos XD has a pretty wild setup and premise, and luckily the gameplay is just as wild and explosive as you would imagine. As a one-man vigilante, there can’t be a more badass feeling than conducting presidential duties from a mech instead of from the old desk at the Oval. The titular Metal Wolf mech is easy to control, with a great sense of mobility and plenty of big weapons to play with. Given that it is a game by FromSoftware, it borrows mechanical sensibilities from their Armored Core franchise and retools them for an arcade style experience; needless to say Metal Wolf Chaos XD plays amazingly well with the Xbox One controller (arguably the best way to pilot a mech).
Ultimately that’s what Metal Wolf Chaos XD is – a noisy and energetic arcade game that was commonplace during the ‘90s with an emphasis on blowing stuff up in creative ways. And of course chasing that high score. Metal Wolf Chaos XD is fast, frantic, and always so very epic in its set pieces. There’s never a dull moment as you blow up wave after wave of military vehicles and take on gigantean bosses.
Early on it’s easy to fall into the mistake of going guns-blazing in Metal Wolf Chaos XD, but very soon the mech runs out of ammo and there’s very little in the way of replenishing opportunities. This can be a bit jarring and mildly disappointing at first, but as a mech action game by FromSoftware the experience wouldn’t feel right without a layer of strategy amidst the chaotic action. It doesn’t hurt the arcade pacing in the slightest, and instead it forces you to play a little smarter by optimising your arsenal to not only complete the mission, but also achieve the elusive high score. It’s satisfying once you work out how Metal Wolf clicks, and even more so thanks to the sheer variety of weapons and upgrades which can be built and acquired ala Armored Core. Unlike FromSoftware’s mech simulation classic though, Metal Wolf Chaos XD doesn’t place any weight limits as the mech can carry any combination of eight oversized weapons to battle. The weapon variety is absolutely immense, with lots to discover and build, covering all the bases with the likes of handguns, flamethrowers, snipers, rifles, machine guns, and all sorts of grandiose guns clearly not limited by realism or practicalities.
Gameplay variety is strong in Metal Wolf Chaos XD too, and there is plenty of replay value as working out the right pacing and flow can allow you to chain together attacks for a score multiplier, all while also accumulating currency, materials, and the tech needed to invest in upgrades and manufacture new weapons. With a bigger set of guns to play around with, it becomes easier to improve your score and time in subsequent replays.
The missions themselves have plenty of variety, but never at the cost of compromising the arcade style pacing and flow. The objectives range from destroying enemy areas, to diffusing weapons of mass destruction, and of course taking on a range of boss battles. What’s handy about the level design is that it lets you tackle objectives in any order, and within each stage there are also hostages to rescue which comes in handy with upgrades and improving President Wilson’s popularity in the public eye – which is much needed given the biased media coverage from DNN. The level design also explores different layouts, terrains, and surroundings which keeps the mech action varied and strategic.
Graphically Metal Wolf Chaos XD retains the look and feel of the original game, which may sound dated, but these arcade style visuals harken back to the days of NAOMI arcade games (think Virtual-On and most Dreamcast games) and they still manage to retain their vibrant charm even when running on an Xbox One X. The textures may feel dated, but this is a visually colourful game with plenty of explosions and destructive environments to create a grandiose presentation of a mech going to war.
The sound design is perhaps the most memorable aspect, with deliberately corny voice acting bringing the cheesy dialogue to life in such an eccentric manner that it’s practically an achievement in satirical comedy. The music is great too, delivering good old-fashioned American country, rock, and plenty of patriotic metal.
Metal Wolf Chaos XD on Xbox One is a faithful reproduction of a lost classic, and while the graphics are updated and upscaled rather than being remastered, it helps to retain the visual charm. What’s important is that it performs and plays extremely well on Xbox, and while the challenge may seem a bit much for those who have grown up with the excessive checkpoints and save states we see in video games today, Metal Wolf Chaos XD is a satisfying arcade mech romp with plenty of replay value thanks to the massive array of upgradeable weapons. It’s satisfying to play and replay each of the game’s thoughtfully designed action-packed missions.
Metal Wolf Chaos XD is quite simply a once in a lifetime video game. This is a game we should have got back in 2005, but now in 2019 it reaches a worldwide audience in its most authentic form. It is worth it just for the satire and writing alone, but thankfully underneath the supercharged politics there also lies a supercharged mech action game which gives you so many guns to play with, in so many different ways that you can’t help but feel like a kid in a candy store.
Metal Wolf Chaos XD is as fun as video games can get.