The Twitch stream has started. Both teams are ready to rumble, and after months' worth of heavily edited videos from the MegaBots team (and precious little from Suidobashi), we're about to see if the state of the art in 2017 mecha-fighting has any potential as a Real-Steel-type sporting spectacle.
Sponsor-hype videos abound. It's genuinely impressive how many different companies, from Howe & Howe, to NASA, to Autodesk and a ton more, have chipped in to get the MegaBots effort off the ground.
Driver safety testing with the MegaBots team … Boy do these guys look like they have fun. Giant paintball cannons and wrecking balls to simulate the rigors of combat.
More hype … A sportscasting commentary team. There's 152,000 viewers tuning in. I'm not sure we can handle this level of excitement.
Here's how the win is to be decided: either the opponent's robot gets knocked down, it stops working, or the opposing team taps out. Team MegaBots has brought two robots, the MkII Iron Glory, and the gigantic Eagle Prime.
Kuratas is much smaller than the MegaBots robot, and much less powerful with just 87 horsepower. But it's a lot faster, and has a 1/2-ton punching fist ready to rock. Round 1 will be against the smaller Iron Glory. Gee, I wonder where this is going.
Round 1 … Fight! Iron Glory slowly stands up, as Kuratas comes charging forward at top speed in the confines of the warehouse arena.
Kuratas closes the gap very quickly, and with one mighty, anticlimactic punch, knocks Iron Glory flat over on its butt. We have a first-round knockout within 10 seconds. Iron Glory's piddling paintball cannons didn't do a thing.
The MegaBots team seems a little shaken, having just fallen backwards from a decent height. But then, Iron Glory is really just the Mk.II MegaBots robot. Eagle Prime is much, much bigger, heavier and more powerful.
I think it's safe to call this one a sacrificial lamb, a bone thrown to team Japan.
Round 2 … Here comes Eagle Prime. 18 times more powerful. Kuratas takes cover behind some barrels as Eagle Prime shoots paintballs at them.
Kuratas launches a drone, which doesn't seem to do anything. There's some smoke. Eagle Prime punches a car off the top of a stack of cars for some reason, then the two robots come together.
Kuratas delivers the biggest punch it's got, but Eagle Prime grabs hold of the punching arm with its claw, and starts pummeling the Japanese robot's armor to bits, using its cannons as battering rams.
The fight grinds to a halt as the robots get stuck together. We take a break so the teams can separate them and do some weapons swaps.
Kuratas has had its right hand knocked off, which its pilot and creator feels is an insult. He swears to get the Americans back for this. The MegaBots team, on the other hand, are delighted.
It's on again! Kuratas starts off in a defensive position. Eagle Prime has returned with a rock-chopping chainsaw for a left arm.
But as the robots approach each other, Eagle Prime turns around and grabs a piece of scaffolding from a lighting truss, sending lights and sparks showering everywhere, then starts spinning it as if it's going to whack Kuratas on the head with it. Cool!
Not cool. Eagle Prime drops the scaffolding before attempting a hit, and moves in for a physical clash. That chainsaw is ripping Kuratas' armor to bits. The force of the MegaBots robot's enormous motor starts pushing Kuratas backwards …
The commentary team makes a big show of crapping its collective pants and running for cover as the robots push forward, knocking over a bunch more lighting rigs and scaffolding. It's chaos.
And then … It's over. Kuratas grinds to a halt. America wins. In the post-fight interview, the MegaBots team admits it has been very careful not to use some of its more effective weaponry, because they wanted to make sure it was a spectacle, and they didn't want to kill the Japanese pilot.
This … was a lot more fun to watch than I, or many others, might have expected. Yes, the robots are kinda slow and awkward. Yes, the paintball guns are completely pointless. Yes, they used a thousand camera cuts to amp up the action. Yes, it felt completely staged. Yes, each short break between rounds was actually a day or two worth of repairs and wrenching to get the things up and running again.
But pro wrestling has been around for decades, and that's kinda what this felt like. And even the defeated Japanese pilot agreed, it was an awesome thing to be a part of.
It's clear that if this is to continue as a sport, a ton of money's going to need to be spent making robots that can genuinely compete with the giant American Eagle Prime and whatever comes after it.
Apparently there's a couple of dozen other competitors waiting to take on the MegaBots team, so I guess we'll see what happens next!
You can check out the entire fight video below.
More information: MegaBots