FromSoftware’s Metal Wolf Chaos originally released in 2004. It told the story of a fictional American President named Michael Wilson who jumps into a mech to wage a one-man army and fend off a coup d’état led by his own Vice President. The game was bombastic and completely over the top, but it was also an interesting look into Japan’s view of American culture.
When Metal Wolf Chaos released, United States President George W. Bush was nearing the end of his first term in office and the U.S. was in the early stages of its wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The political realities of the time were a far cry from the fictional events of Metal Wolf Chaos. However, FromSoftware’s grandiose action game tapped into America’s patriotic exceptionalism and quickly earn a cult following.
“Obviously, 15 years ago, when we were developing this game, the political situation was very different,” says Metal Wolf Chaos original producer Masanori Takeuchi. “I made it as a very out there, over the top situation. I don’t feel like it accurately portrays America, but it’s not a joke. Japanese people do look at the U.S. and see a lot of patriotism. It’s something that is different from us in Japan, so I saw that and I put that in the game in a way that Japanese people could digest. Obviously, if Americans play this game then they’re not going to say, ‘Yeah, yeah, that’s really us.’ But I wanted to put that in the game in the way that we look at it.”
After Metal Wolf Chaos’ original Japanese launch on December 22 of 2004, the game was planned for a U.S. release – the title was even given a complete English voice over –but it never released stateside, because the Xbox was nearing the end of its lifecycle and the studio feared it wouldn’t sell well. Then in 2016, Devlover Digital jokingly tweeted about bringing Metal Wolf Choas stateside for the first time, and that began a conversation between the two companies.
— Devolver Digital (@devolverdigital) January 27, 2016
“I was not very familiar with Devolver and what they do when they contacted us,” says Takeuchi. “I did some research and I was very happy. There were a lot of business situations surrounding this game that led to it not releasing in the west, so I was kind of happy for this opportunity now. At the same time, I was curious how it would be perceived in the west. Because of your current political state, I thought there could be a risk of releasing a game like this. How would it be perceived? At the same time, I’ve always been curious about how it would do, and I’m happy we can finally release it 14 year’s later.”
Metal Wolf Chaos is a straightforward action shooter, and Devolver hasn’t done anything to update its dated graphics or shooting mechanic. This was intentional, because the publisher wants U.S. gamers to experience this obscure action title as it was originally intended, for the first time. Later this year, PS4, Xbox One, and PC players will get to see for themselves if this game lives up to its cult status, or if it is a product of a different age.