PAX East 2015: IMPRESSIONS: Code Name S.T.E.A.M.

Saturday, March 7th, 2015

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Code Name S.T.E.A.M. | oprainfall

One of the more unique games to be announced by Nintendo recently is Code Name S.T.E.A.M. This is a weird turn-based strategy game that pits heroes of Americana against an alien invasion. In fact, in Japan, the game is subtitled Lincoln vs Aliens.

The demo playable at PAX East was the same one that’s available in the eShop. It starts with your character, Henry Flemming, facing off against a few hostile aliens. There’s no grid for the battle movements, however, your actions are limited by the amount of steam you have. Moving uses steam, as does firing your weapon. While it seems like a good idea to just blast away at your enemies until your out of steam, it’s actually more beneficial to conserve some of it. When your enemy takes it’s turn, if it fires upon you, and you have steam leftover, you will use the Overwatch mechanic, which fires upon enemies as they approach, greatly reducing the danger they impose.

Aiming isn’t automatic, and there is no auto-targeting—at least, not that I could find. You need to manually move the target to the enemy you want to shoot. It wasn’t always easy to get the target precisely where you want, but I did manage to figure out that boxes which were blocking the way could be destroyed, so there’s that. There is a range limit, as some enemies wouldn’t take damage since they were so far away.

After clearing the first area, I got a second party member, John Henry. He uses a type of grenade launcher, which deals large amounts of damage to everything, friend or foe, in a certain range. This works really well when the enemies are bunching together to try to target you. Since sometimes the scenery can obscure you from the aliens, they move to the same area so they can get a good angle to target you with.

Code Name S.T.E.A.M. - Targeting | oprainfall

The New 3DS being Nintendo’s new system, Code Name S.T.E.A.M. and all the other games at their PAX East booth, this was the only way to play the game. I have to say, I’m not sure if it was the fact that the game was made for the regular 3DS, but the 3D feature, which I normally ignore, looked amazing. In fact, it looked so natural, I could barely tell I had the 3D turned on.

Despite a lot of hype and interest surrounding this game, I was not quite sold at first. As a new IP, it’s hard to get a gauge on what it’s going to be like. And then there’s the fact that this game is off-the-wall with the Abraham Lincoln fighting aliens stuff. I definitely got a better sense of it here, and I’m actually looking forward to this now. Not only does the combat description make more sense, but there was a certain tongue-in-cheek feel to the dialogue, almost as if the game knows how ridiculous it is. Which, of course, will save it some embarrassment. Can you imagine if a game like this were to take itself seriously?

Code Name S.T.E.A.M. will be out next week in North America for the 3DS. But you can check out the demo for yourself right now.

About Eric Chetkauskas

Eric has been playing video games for longer than he can remember. His interests skew toward retro games with an emphasis on Japanese RPGs like Chrono Trigger and the Dragon Quest series.