One of the things that I appreciate is when Nintendo comes up with a new IP. Sure I love Mario and will never grow tired of games featuring this landmark character, but there’s something to be said for coming up with new games and new characters. Code Name: S.T.E.A.M. could have easily been just another Nintendo game featuring Mario, but instead the company decided to introduce a whole new set of characters and it’s very welcome.
In Code Name: S.T.E.A.M. you’ll command a strike team of unexpected heroes – assembled by Abraham Lincoln himself – to defend Earth against an alien invasion! The game is a turn-based strategy game where you’ll take turns moving your characters around a playing field. After you make your series of moves the enemy will then take their turn. Winning each stage depends on what you do, and how well you can predict what your enemy will do.
As the name of the game might suggest, steam plays a role in the game. Taking liberty with history, as well as borrowing a few of it’s more notable players, the game takes place in the past in a world where steam is everything. Steam is used to power the world. Steam is the future.
In this way, everything that your characters do in the game, from moving around to firing their weapons, takes steam. Once they run out of steam their turn is done and they’ll have to wait for the next turn for said steam to recharge.
So how does it work?
As most games of the type, the levels are broken up into a grid. Moving one block of the grid takes up once unit of steam, so if you have eight ‘puffs’ of steam then you can move eight blocks. One thing that it nice is that you aren’t restricted in the sense that you can move about freely. Say you move up four blocks and use up four puffs of steam. If you then backtrack you’ll get this steam back, meaning that you can wander around a bit without worry. Having said that though once you do fire your weapon you can’t take the movements back. In the same way if you are stuck with an overwatch attack from the enemy on your turn, you’ll also not be able to back track. You may also be stunned.
As I said before, steam is the name of the game and it is used to power everything. While it may be advantageous to go as far as you can go and shoot as much as possible, at times it may be best to hang back slightly. Some of the characters’ weapons have an overwatch attack ability, which can be used to your advantage as well. For example if it takes three puffs of steam to make one attack, saving three puffs before you end your turn gives your player the opportunity to ambush an enemy unit and shoot them unexpectedly. This is a great move, especially if you won’t have enough steam to get into firing range AND take a shot.
There is a lot of depth to the game as well, with eventually a dozen or more characters to use through the game. Each character has their own strengths, and you can customize the weapons and boilers of each character uses. From short range rifles, long range grenade launchers to healing weapons to heal your allies from a distance, there is a lot to play with.
Code Name: S.T.E.A.M. is great fun to play and takes just as much pace, patience and strategy as any other game in the genre. The game is developed by Intelligent Systems, the company behind other Nintendo classics like Advance Wars and Fire Emblem. (These are both series that I highly recommend checking out.
Speaking of Fire Emblem, the game also comes with amiibo support. The four announced amiibo from the Fire Emblem series will be compatible with the game, meaning that you’ll be able to have Marth, Ike, Robin and Lucina join in the battles. Each character adds a new dimension to gameplay by wielding weaponry pulled straight from the Fire Emblem series—like Marth’s sacred sword, the Falchion, or Ike’s blessed blade, Ragnell. If they fall in battle, amiibo characters must be tapped again in order to add them back to your team.
This feature is compatible with the NEW Nintendo 3DS, which has a built in NFC reader into the hardware. I’m not sure if it will work with the planned release of the NFC reader peripheral for the Nintendo 3DS and 2DS, but I would think that it would make sense.
The look of the game has a strong comic feel, with the animated cutscenes leaping to life in comic-book-style cinematics. The gameplay itself even has a stylized comic look to it.