Steel Battalion was more famed for its controller than it was for its detailed, if dry, take on mech combat. Its 40-button, three-part centrepiece came in at three times the size of the Xbox console itself; its heft and intricacy pushed the price of the game beyond the reach of many, ensuring its status as a coveted curio and the stuff of legend.
Those who've been lucky enough to sit behind this loving tangle of hardware speak wistfully of the complex boot-up procedure that had you flicking multiple switches before you could even get moving, or the eject button that cruelly wiped your save file when pressed. (A button that was, originally, to be sheltered by a glass case that had to be shattered in order to get to it - Capcom, in a rare bout of level-headedness when designing this game, ultimately decided against it.)
The controller was the heart of the experience, so it's strange that for this sequel it's been completely ripped out and replaced with something that's just as novel - but hardly as stirring.
It's a messy transplant that's not entirely convincing at first. Kinect works in tandem with the standard Xbox controller, and the countless functions it enables are an assurance that this is a successor to one of the most brilliantly complex games ever committed to a console.
Bring two hands down and you'll pull on the periscope, allowing you a wider view of the battlefield. Stand up and peek around and your character will open the tank's hatch to gain a better vantage point - at the risk of being caught in the crossfire of Steel Battalion's noisy battlefields.
Reach a hand out and the tank's crowded cockpit can be interacted with; a monitor can be pulled out which gives access to four cameras placed around the exterior, and reach down to your right and there's a lever can be heaved to switch between gears.
It's a brilliantly mechanical interface, all whirring steel, cheap LEDs and occasional spouts of steam; a future war told with the trappings of World War 2-era machinery.
Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor's narrative provides a perfect set-up for its enchanting aesthetic. In 2020, a silicon-eating parasite has wiped out all the world's computers, kick-starting a technological dark age that, by that time of the game's setting some 60 years later, humanity is just beginning to crawl out of.
So Steel Battalion's stars, its vertical tanks (or VTs), are more Panzer than Robotech. Emblazoned on the sides of these bipedal steel dinosaurs are personalised artworks that you'd usually expect to see on a B-52's fuselage; the VT we see has been dubbed by its occupants The Creeping Death, and there's a cute picture of the grim reaper drawn there to hammer that home.
It's not just the tanks that are from a bygone era. The VT crews have stepped straight from a WW2 drama - exaggerated pickings of Americana that only could have been created in Japan. They're an important part of Steel Battalion's make-up, too; accompanying you in the claustrophobic confines of the tank will be three teammates, all serving different purposes.
There's a gunman who provides you with added firepower and a communications man who feeds you with intel. There'll be a selection to choose from, each with their own attributes, and they'll be persistent throughout the campaign. Death is permanent; lose one and they'll be gone forever from your campaign.
Keeping them alive is a task in itself, for if there's anything that Steel Batallion's learned in its long absence, it's how to orchestrate maddening chaos on the battlefield. Like Call of Duty, the war here is loud and pervasive; throughout the course of one skirmish the screen's one red and frenzied blur as shell after shell pounds into the VT.
Panic prevails, and the game's canny enough to acknowledge that - even if its response is a little eccentric. When the din becomes too hellish to bear, crewmembers can make a suicidal bolt for the escape hatch, and - through the magic of Kinect - you can pull them back in and slap some sense into them.
If that's all a bit much - and for me it certainly was, as I couldn't help but laugh out loud upon seeing this - rest assured that underneath Steel Battalion's motion control experimentation there are traditional and very hardcore shooter mechanics. The traditional controller's leant on heavily, with the twin sticks being used first-person-shooter-style, while the triggers are given over to shooting.
It's more traditional in other ways too; in spite of its novel aesthetic, Steel Battalion can feel wearily generic. The one level we see asks little more than you kill everyone in sight, and depressingly, it's a retelling of the Normandy beach landing transposed to a New York that's under siege; two of gaming's greatest clichés conveniently rolled into one overstated mess. A strange one, then. The swipes and exaggerated gestures that Kinect has introduced are no replacement for the lure of black plastic and countless buttons - which, in itself, sounds like a familiar refrain when it comes to motion control gaming.
But there's an invention and enthusiasm to how Steel Battalion embraces Kinect, and as a core game for Microsoft's controller it certainly ticks the right boxes. It may not go on to be as fondly remembered as its predecessor, but in its own way Steel Battalion: Heavy Armor is just as novel - and it's certainly just as eccentric.