Code Name S.T.E.A.M
Intelligent Systems is Nintendo’s go-to subsidiary when it comes to making turn-based strategy games. The developer is the creator of both the Fire Emblem and Advance Wars series, and is also well known for being the developers behind the Paper Mario games. And it looks like Intelligent Systems is ready to strike strategy gold again with the upcoming Code Name: S.T.E.A.M. for Nintendo 3DS.
The most unique aspects of Code Name: S.T.E.A.M. would have to be its artstyle and setting; which are far different from the norm of Nintendo games. The world of S.T.E.A.M. is set in 1800s, in an alternate timeline from ours where great advances in steampunk technology have been made. The visuals of S.T.E.A.M. are cel-shaded, but the design of the characters are heavily influenced by the Silver Age of Comic Books and the work of American comic artists such as Jack Kirby and Bruce Timm. And the cutscenes are done in an “animated comic” style, complete with onomatopoeia appearing visually for sound effects. You play as the team members of S.T.E.A.M. (which stands for Strike Team Eliminating the Alien Menace), an international team of warriors formed by President Lincoln, who are tasked with fighting the H.P. Lovecraft-inspired alien invaders that have recently shown up. The game starts off at the American embassy in London, where Captain Henry Fleming of S.T.E.A.M. is situated, when a massive alien, known only as “Devastator”, attacks and forces Henry to meet up with his squad and defeat the invaders attacking London.
Code Name: S.T.E.A.M.’s gameplay is a mix of two main genres: Turn-Based Strategy and Third-Person Shooter, drawing some parallels with the Valkyria Chronicles franchise. Each character on your team has what is known as a Steam Gauge, which powers your movement and weapons. Although you can move freely, the levels are tile-based, and moving from each tile to the next will drain one part of your Steam Gauge. Firing a weapon costs a lot more steam, and so you must plan your movements and attacks wisely to make the most of your steam. A usual feature is that steam use is not permanent until you attack or finish your turn, meaning you can scout out several paths before deciding the most efficient direction to take. Each character also has a unique ability that can be used without steam, at the price of only being able to be used once in a level. Unlike Intelligent System’s other strategy titles like Fire Emblem, the goal is getting to the exit at the other end of level, rather than killing every alien on the map.
Each squad mate has his or her own unique stats, weapons and abilities, each of which makes a difference to your team and effects how you would approach the enemy. Some units are better for attacking, while others are more suited to a support role. Choosing the right team for the right level is critical for success. The game also has a mechanic known as Overwatch. If a unit has enough steam leftover from the player’s turn, he can attack the enemy on their turn. This adds an extra layer of strategy that makes steam management even more in-depth. Should you try to use as much steam as you can in a level, or save some up to attack during the enemies turn? It’s up to you. It also makes you think more about where you move on your turn, as the enemy can also make use of the Overwatch mechanic.
Code Name: S.T.E.A.M. looks like it’s shaping up to be a solid strategy title. It’s unique visuals and setting make it stand out against other Nintendo IPs, and we can look forward to fighting the alien menace on 3DS in 2015.