1. Metal Gear Ray – Metal Gear Solid Series
Of all the mechs on this list Metal Gear Ray is the most iconic. Not only for its design but for the way games it appeared in shaped the gaming industry. The legacy of the Metal Gear series looms so large in gaming history that it is easy to forget that Metal Gear Solid was a bit of a surprise hit. Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty (MGS2), the game where Ray first appears, on the other hand, had a massive pre-release marketing push. The hype for that game was so massive that even a full featured demo couldn’t slake the gaming community’s thirst. While MGS2 wasn’t the first game to have a massive marketing machine behind it, the success of the game definitely made that marketing strategy more viable. Another game industry trend we can thank MGS2 for is the prevalence of absurd levels of secrecy in game development. In MGS2 this secrecy was justified because Hideo Kojima, the game’s director, was planning the famous Solid Snake, Raiden bait-and-switch but in most modern games it makes less sense to hide the state of its progress. Metal Gear Ray also exemplifies the more is more attitude that sometimes plagues the triple-A game space. In Metal Gear Solid the big boss fight is against one Metal Gear so naturally in MGS2 the player needs to fight twenty Metal Gear Rays. These impacts of MGS2 illustrate why Metal Gear Ray is so important. Metal Gear Ray isn’t the first Metal Gear, and in many ways it isn’t the strongest metal gear, Raiden suplexes one in Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance for crying out loud. But Metal Gear Ray is the one we all remember because it’s the one from the game that changed everything about video games.
Honorable Mention: The Custom Robos – Custom Robo
Custom Robo may seem like an odd choice for Honorable Mention instead of the main list, considering this whole article is about cool-looking robots that beat the hell out of each other. The thing is, while they’re robots, the Custom Robos themselves aren’t “mecha” per se. For one thing, they’re bite-sized, no taller than a plastic Gunpla model. Secondly, they aren’t actually manned by any pilots; while the player characters can mind meld with the robots, that more or less just makes the bots extensions of the player themselves. Where a mecha pilot controls the robot, in Custom Robo, the robot is like a suit of armor. We couldn’t just leave them off the list entirely, though. The game offered countless options for designing your super robot and allowed for players’ imaginations to run wild. You want a bulky robot with the fastest legs in the game? Sure, go ahead! You want to have a really cute design with the deadliest weapon possible? Go for it! The possibilities felt endless whenever you were on the customization screen. They may not be mecha, but the Custom Robos are close enough.