When it comes to patriotic movies to watch in celebration of America's birthday, there is no shortage of options. You have The Patriot, Glory, Top Gun, Independence Day and countless others — with my personal favorite being Air Force One, starring Harrison Ford as the president of the United States who throws terrorists off a plane.
But what if you want to play an unabashedly American video game? One that makes you feel like fist-pumping the air with one hand and firing your Glock 22 with the other — all while singing the Pledge of Allegiance?
If that's the kind of game you're looking for, good lucking finding it. Not because it doesn't exist (it does) but because it was only released in Japan. For the original Xbox. In 2004.
It's called Metal Wolf Chaos, developed by From Software of Dark Souls fame. Remember the name, because there has never before been and will likely never be again a game so full of star-spangled glory.
Like all the best pieces of patriotic entertainment, Metal Wolf Chaos stars the president of the United States of America. Better yet, his name is Michael Wilson — descendant of (you guessed it) 28th President Woodrow Wilson.
President Wilson is the commander-in-chief during a particularly turmoil-filled time in American history: the year 20XX. Some states have tried to secede from the Union, the economy has taken a downward turn and people just generally aren't all that happy.
It's for that reason the vice president, Richard Hawk, decides to stage a coup d'etat for the presidency. Hawk has the military on his side and he quickly takes control of the country. One of his first actions as president? Reinstating the practice of slavery.
Things aren't looking great for freedom, but Wilson isn't giving up the presidency without a fight. And he has an ace up his sleeve: a mech suit named Metal Wolf. He busts out of the Oval Office window in the armored power suit, fights his way across the White House lawn and escapes to an underground bunker, where Air Force One is waiting for him.
From there, players take control of Wilson in Metal Wolf and go from one iconic American location to the next, liberating each from Hawk and his Insurrectionists as they try to destroy America. The game is a fast-paced third-person shooter, with players dashing around the environment and unleashing an absurd amount of weaponry on America's enemies. If you can name it, Metal Wolf probably has it: cluster missiles, gatling guns, giant shotguns and grenade launchers.
Whether it's fighting in New York City, the Grand Canyon or the White House itself, the game covers all the American bases before one final, climactic showdown between Wilson and Hawk (who, of course, has a mech of his own) in Las Vegas that eventually has the two men fighting it out in space. It is there – in orbit, on a space station – that Wilson saves America from nuclear destruction by finally defeating Hawk once and for all.
You only have to look at the cover to know the game is going to be a lesson in patriotism: the mech suit, the massive chaingun, the fiery explosion. And of course, the giant American flag in the background helps seal the deal.
Seriously, this game is "Merica" personified. It's so ridiculous, over-the-top and unashamed of its Americaness, it only makes sense that the game couldn't be developed by Americans. We would make it too serious, too solemn. We would miss the big picture.
This is the kind of game that could only be made by an outsider looking in. The Japanese get it. Getting swept up in the absurdly pro-American culture is part of the fun. That's the joke. America is just another country, with its own problems and own way of doing things. We all know this, and they do too.
Taking those problems and cultural iconography (the almost divine status of the president, our landmarks, our love of guns and the vague concept of freedom) and ramping it all up to 11 is just a funny way of pointing out America's quirky and over-the-top personality.
Metal Wolf Chaos isn't quite Team America: World Police (it's a little more serious and much less clever) but it does have a way of highlighting America's unapologetic love for everything American in a way that is inspiring and baffling at the same time. Every character in this game (aside from Hawk, who wants to destroy everything America stands for) goes out of their way to talk about how great a country America is and how much they love America. Or freedom. Or justice. Or all three. Along the way, they spout some truly awful one-liners.
It really is a tragedy that this game never released stateside, especially considering the entire game already has full English voice acting. Terrible, hilarious, hilariously terrible English voice acting. The man responsible for voicing Richard Hawk, in particular, deserves a medal for his delightfully evil line delivery.
Because of its insane premise and surprisingly fun gameplay, the game goes for upwards of $100 on eBay — and that's if you already have an original Xbox to play the game. Still, it's definitely worth checking out, if you can snag a copy, or you can always watch a playthrough on YouTube.
As you are celebrating this Fourth of July with friends and family, do yourself a favor and remember Metal Wolf Chaos, the most American game to never come out in America. Be humored by it. Be inspired by it. And above all, reflect on these words from president and mech pilot extraordinaire Michael Wilson, taken from his final speech at the end of the game:
"My fellow Americans, good morning. As Americans, we love freedom, but true freedom isn't a given like the air we breathe or the water we drink. About 240 years ago, our forefathers fought bravely, giving their blood, sweat and tears. And in the end, they won our freedom. And we must never forget this. If anything appears that threatens our belief in this freedom, we will oppose it. We will crush it. In fighting to gain our freedom, we need no reasons.
"We require no just cause or flowery words. In order to protect our neighbors who love freedom and this faith in freedom, we continue to believe in our own justice. We won't abandon any battles, and the reason is because we are all citizens of the United States of America. And as long as you all will allow it, I will be a vanguard leading this fight. And the reason is because I'm the president of this great United States of America."
Like any good American politician, he kind of just says "freedom" a lot and doesn't really add anything of substance. In fact, his whole speech doesn't make much sense. Kind of like Metal Wolf Chaos. Hard to argue with his reasoning, though. After all — being the president of the United States of America is a good enough reason for anything.