Eric Kelly On March 18, 2015 at 10:36 am

Code Name Steam LogoA lot of people complain that Nintendo doesn’t make enough new IPs. While Intelligent Systems is a second party developer, and equally doesn’t innovate as much, they’ve finally made a new IP. And Nintendo should at least get some credit for fostering their efforts. While Codename: S.T.E.A.M. is a fun approach to the strategy RPG genre, it is somewhat flawed in a couple places. But for a first effort, it’s pretty solid.

The game is a Strategy RPG that takes place in the late 1800’s during the Victorian era. And much like The Order, it uses an alternate version of History where society has advanced tremendously due to a unique steam technology. However the real reason for this progress was born out a need to wage a war against an alien invasion. The group called S.T.E.A.M. is a Special Ops organization that is led by ex-president Abraham Lincoln. And the members of S.T.E.A.M. are a unique bunch, mostly composed of people from literary works. Like The Lion from The Wizard of Oz.

The game doesn’t seem to take itself seriously as it acknowledges this inherent weirdness. The missions will have S.T.E.A.M. fighting the aliens across many 3D maps. To perform any action, you will consume steam in varying amounts depending on what the characters do. Even movement uses steam, but you can recover steam by backtracking to their initial position. This is good for picking up medals, which are used to unlock new weapons. Other medals are dropped by defeated enemies or found in destroyed crates. Also reserving steam and placing your characters in the right positions will let them intercept advancing enemies which can provide characters a chance to stun them. This is provided that their currently selected weapons are capable of using Over-watch. Of course the enemy can do this as well. Stunned targets receive significantly more damage, so it’s a good strategy to set up ambushes. But since steam is a valuable resource, you have to decide how to best proceed before ending the turn. Enemies have weak-points to exploit as well, marked by glowing spots. Although the aiming in the game is a bit off at times, this can cause misfires. That’s just one of the game’s issues.

While the game has no level up system, characters do seem to have inherent stats based on their weight class. So to get stronger, you need to unlock more weapons from medals, and boilers through gears. The trouble with this system is that the game doesn’t tell you how your newly acquired gear even works. Not even the manual is helpful. This extends further in that you are thrown into most maps blind, so preparation is somewhat meaningless, as you setup in the Liberty, and not right before a level starts. This leads to some trial and error. The game isn’t terribly difficult though, so thankfully retries shouldn’t be frequent. It is annoying that you can only replay missions and not levels though. But the length of the enemy phases go on for entirely too long. Add to the fact that you can’t see what’s going on at times, or that it can’t even be skipped, like in Fire Emblem: Awakening.

The quality of the music is pretty good, but battles through the first four missions and the first level of mission 5 use the same battle track for some strange reason. Later maps have their own tracks, so it just seems odd. It’s interesting as, the tracks dynamically change based on the phase or whether an enemy sees you. There are modes apart from the single player campaign, so if players tire of the story mode, there’s local and online multiplayer to check out. There’s even some Amiibo support where you can use Fire Emblem Amiibos to bring new team members. Of course this feature is only available on the New Nintendo 3DS. As of right now there are only two available, but it’s a nice little addition nonetheless. The game is a pretty fun experience but those issues hurt it a bit. But when it hits the right notes at the right moments, it’s a pretty worthwhile Strategy RPG that’s a bit on the lighter side, which accommodates newcomers to the genre.


Third person perspective Strategy RPG which plays like an XCOM- light.


Very colorful cel-shaded 3D models that look really great on the New Nintendo 3DS.


The music is somewhat catchy rock, but there’s little variety in track selection for the first few missions.


A very fun new IP from Intelligent Systems, but it has some hiccups in it’s design that ding it a bit.

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