Nintendo has unveiled some details on the eagerly awaited "new 3DS game" now known to be officially titled Code Name: STEAM. The "STEAM" acronym stands for "Strike Team Eliminating the Alien Menace", implying that the aim of this game will have something to do with taking on some exterrestrial baddies, a pretty familar game premise right? Wrong, the game actually takes place in 19th century London where you will be accompaning President Abraham Lincoln fight off hoards of H.P. Lovecraft inspired alien invaders while using weapons and tools powered (of course) only by steam.
Needless to say, it's totally bizarre and sounds like something that could only have originated from the daydreaming mind of a 1st grader. But in actuality, this project is being developed by the minds at Intelligent Systems, creators of some sweet Nintendo RPGs like Paper Mario, Fire Emblem, and the cult hit Advance Wars (which I loved). In addition to this studio, the game is being headed by one of Nintendo's historically powerful super heroes, Hitoshi Yamagami. Yamagami has been involved with a huge array Nintendo projects since the Dr. Mario era, but is known most recently for playing more of a producer role at major projects from Game Freak, Monolith Soft, and also Intelligent Systems. But what makes his involvement with Code Name: STEAM so interesting is his role as director, which is unsusal given the man's history of producing a steady line of Pokemon games these last few years. It will be interesting to see how Yamagami's experience with these RPGs flows into the gameplay of Code Name: STEAM, which is also detailed to be an RPG.
Players will be able to control up to 4 different characters at once. Each of them are individually equipped with a gun that reflects their personality in the form of an animal motif. In association with their motif, each character also has a unique ability that can only be used once per map. There are "several" maps in each of the game's campaign missions, and after completeing each map, players will unlock new weapons, characters, and boilers, which are items that utilize the character's steam in a spell-like way. Steam seems to be something along the lines of mana, and is a depletable resource that can only be refilled by using medals, which will inherently punish you by taking away some of the loot you recieve later in the game.
The detail that I think is especially noteworthy revolves around the game's sense of exploration. Apparently, maps in the guise of a map or top-down perspective is something that this game does not have. This means that navigating areas can only be done by flipping through the different perspectives of your four-man squad, and setting waymarkers for yourself pioneer style. Journalists have been reporting that this character jumping mechanic is something that reminds them of the view shifting feature that happens between turns in Valkyria Chronicles, which is intriguing to say the least.
Now, I know that everyone was desperately hoping that this big 3DS game reveal would have been a Metriod franchise entry. Another popular theory was that a Majora's Mask 3DS port would have been shown today. Both of those ideas would have been exciting games for me personally, but a creative new IP isn't so bad, right? I think this game totally has some sweet eccentric vibes coming from it.
Check out these screenshots below, I personally got some Elite Beat Agents art direction feels from them.