Code Name: S.T.E.A.M.
Developed by Intelligent Systems
Published by Nintendo
Available on 3DS
A new IP in the world of Nintendo is a rare thing indeed. One such title Nintendo is unleashing is entitled Code Name: S.T.E.A.M. Developed by Intelligent Systems (Fire Emblem, Advance Wars), Code Name: S.T.E.A.M. is another fine turn-based title. What initially seems like a game lacking in content, continually opens up throughout the various missions. Players looking to invest in everything S.T.E.A.M. has to offer will find deep gameplay variations and ridiculous characters.
Code Name: S.T.E.A.M. comes across like a hybrid of Valkyria Chronicles and the X-COM series of games. Unlike those games, characters in Code Name: S.T.E.A.M. are revived after every map. Each mission has players controlling a team from one end of the map to the other. Characters move through the map in turns and are restricted in their movement and actions by how much “steam” they have available. Once the player has made their moves, the alien team makes their movements. Adding an extra wrinkle to the proceedings, if players save “steam” they will be able to enter “overwatch” mode. Overwatch allows the characters to strike if they see enemies moving.
In addition to enemies, each map contains various other collectables. There are save points positioned on the map and if players are able to reach them they are able to save, save and heal, or save and heal the entire team. What players ultimately decide, will be based on how much currency they’ve acquired throughout the map. Currency can be found in random places including crates, but can also be acquired from defeating enemies. It is important to learn exactly how the system works in order to get the most movement and attack opportunities out of every turn. Also included in the collectables are “Gears”, which unlock new items to use in combat.
The story for Code Name: S.T.E.A.M. is ridiculous at best. In a steampunk alternate reality, Herny Fleming is a member of a task force called “Unit S.T.E.A.M.” which literally stands for Strike Team Eliminating the Alien Menace. The team is overseen by Abraham Lincoln and many colorful and strange teammates are along for the ride to defeat the alien menace. These new characters show up often enough to make continuing through the various missions exciting, as there’s always different variations to the play style. Lion has the ability to jump during his attack which makes hard-to-reach items and enemies that much easier to access. Whereas, Tom has the ability to stun enemies with the power punch. Many of the characters are based off of classic children’s stories, as Lion is supposed to be from The Wizard of Oz. Not only are characters unlockable from the main story, but players with Fire Emblem Amiibo Marth or Ike can add them into the mix as well.
Code Name: S.T.E.A.M. feels really good, but some problems shine through. Most of these actually occur when the aliens are in control of the game. In order to see the movement of the enemies, heroes must have their field of vision pointed on the enemies. This makes for long bouts of waiting while the enemies make their tactical moves, and often, not even be able to see what they are doing. Not only does it slow the gameplay down to a crawl, but the music selection is painful. Normally, it wouldn’t be so much of a problem, but considering how much time is spent waiting for the A.I., it quickly becomes tiresome.
Another area of concern is attacking enemy weak points. Many of the enemies have spots on them that take more damage. The problem lies with lining up the reticule to hit the proper spot. On the New 3DS XL, that can be controlled with the new joystick which adds some precision. On the older 3DS, the face buttons act as the camera and it is really difficult to line up a shot. This can mean life or death for the party, so it would’ve be better if it was a little more forgiving.
Code Name: S.T.E.A.M. is an exciting new franchise for Nintendo. It is challenging enough to entertain those familiar with perma-death games like X-COM, but also opens up to have a plethora of combat styles and options. Above all else, playing Code Name: S.T.E.A.M. is pure addition in that it has that “one more move” feeling deep in its core. Code Name: S.T.E.A.M. provides plenty of entertainment and despite some minor issues, shines through as a must-have title for the 3DS.