Nintendo announced new property Codename: STEAM at an E3 2014 event tonight.
A turn-based strategy with third-person shooter action elements, Codename: STEAM was developed by Intelligent Systems, the Nintendo studio behind Fire Emblem, Advance Wars and Paper Mario.
The new property is set to launch on 3DS in 2015, and boasts a cel-shaded, steampunk aesthetic which seems to be influenced by Silver Age comic books, and has been compared to Valkyria Chronicles. Set in London – isn’t all Steampunk? – it stars a character named Henry Fleming, who is caught up in a mysterious invasion by creatures from outer space.
The task force the player takes control of was put together by Abraham Lincoln, for some reason, to combat the alien threat. Our excited correspondent’s notes aren’t entirely clear, but there seems to be something called the Devastator involved. The enemies are original designs but inspired by H.P. Lovecraft, so expect a Cthulhian feel, but with a twist – all the enemies are ice elementals.
Described as similar to XCOM but viewed from a third-person, over-the-shoulder perspective, Codename: STEAM gives players a limited number of actions per character per turn. The number of actions remaining to a given character is shown by a gauge filled with steam (of course).
Players can move about the map freely to the limits of their steam gauge, but they don’t have to commit to an action until they’re ready – or they’re spotted by an enemy. If spotted, the amount of steam used so far is considered depleted, and players must decide how to utilise their remaining actions. There is no undo button.
The final size of the party has not been locked down but Nintendo expects it to be four. So far only Henry and a second character, John, have been named, but a party of four was demonstrated, and nine characters have been created with the possibility of more to come. Characters shown included both men and women, of a variety of ages, races and body types, as well as more fantastic options like a lion. Sweet. Each character is unique and many have an animal motif on their weapons and equipment representing their personality and abilities.
Nintendo said it wanted to make a turn-based game that was less intimidating than competing titles, with fewer HUD elements and a more intimate camera. In this way it hopes to expand the audience for strategy games.
As such, there’s no minimap or compass to distract you from the action. Instead, players can switch between the viewpoints of different characters to get a sense of the map’s layout. Hint boxes on the map will help players target weak points and embrace other tactical advantages offered by the verticality of the terrain. By juggling movement, attacks and overwatch states, players can control the battlefield.
Unlike Fire Emblem, which is known as a pretty hardcore series, Codename: STEAM will be quire user-friendly. A series of checkpoints will allow players to save their team’s status, or spend medals to restore health and steam. Medals will not be available via microtransactions.
The presentation was led by Hitoshi Yamagami, who apologised for not being Shigeru Miyamoto – the man behind the vast majority of Nintendo’s most successful properties, and who is apparently involved in the creation of the new IP. Paul Patraschcu will serve as creative director and Takako Sakai is the art director; both were in attendance.
Nintendo is not allowing photography or video to be taken at the event. Watch this space for assets and more details if and when they emerge. The image above is a placeholder taken from Eddie Mendoza’s art blog.