Boasting an exaggerated comic-strip presentation, steam-powered weapons, Abraham Lincoln, Queen Victoria and a host of literary characters, it’s clear that the diminutive size of the 3DS was no bar to the imagination behind Code Name: STEAM.
But what appears to be a fantastical and flippant adventure also conceals a well-engineered, finely balanced, turn-based strategy game.
Here, developer Intelligent Systems revisits the detailed battles of its Advance Wars series with a new first-person perspective, real-time elements and a game-changing overwatch feature – in which saving enough “Steam” action points offers the opportunity to counter-attack enemies during their turn.
The frustratingly slow opponent phase has been speeded up with a patch ready for the UK release, but even this doesn’t detract from both the game’s steady difficulty curve and welcome accommodation of newcomers. Strategy purists may balk at being able to undo mistaken movements but this is a helpful (and optional) feature for learning the ropes. Fire Emblem amiibo figurines also add the Marth, Ike, Robin and Lucina characters to your team with new weapons and minor tactical advantages.
Put together, it is hugely successful, not only offering an accessible strategy adventure with charismatic heroes and a fistful of innovations but one that in doing so refreshes the somewhat tired turn-based genre.
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