Pink lion men, Fire Emblem permadeath, and steampunk combine in Code Name: STEAM

It’s rare for Nintendo to invest in a new franchise these days, but it’s laying out the red carpet for Code Name: STEAM. Though the steampunk meets comic book story turned me off when it debuted at E3 2014, playing the game is a really fresh, yet familiar, experience that merges real-time third-person gameplay with turn-based strategy.

Developed by Intelligent Systems, the crew responsible for the Advance Wars and Fire Emblem series, the game pits you as a crew of heroes sent on missions by Abraham Lincoln, usually to stop alien attacks. The early levels I played are mostly about sneaking around destructible barrels and other obstacles, hiding, blasting aliens, and advancing toward a goal post of sorts (usually a green door).

The 3D environment is what sets STEAM apart. Because your viewpoint is limited by what each of your characters can see, it doesn’t feel like a traditional turn-based game. I found myself constantly using the right C-Stick (nub) on the New 3DS XL to look around and spot aliens (or coins, which fund upgrades).

You control each of your heroes (up to six of them) separately, moving each on a 3D field with a turn-based grid overlaid on top of it. How far you can move, and how many shots you can take, depends entirely on how much of your supply of steam each character has used. It’s refilled each turn, but moving and blasting uses it up. There are also advantages to holding onto some of your steam: If you have a few extra puffs left during the enemy’s turn, you can fire back when they try to attack your characters.

Each team member has his or her own weapons, which you can equip with primary and secondary functions. For example, I gave my healer, Tiger Lily, a shotgun so she could still deal some damage. One of my other characters had a crossbow that could also launch a grenade several squares ahead. Another team member, who was a sort of pink lion man (his name is “Lion”), could catapult himself into the air, surprising aliens by leaping over obstacles.

I wasn’t able to try them out, but you can use any of the four Fire Emblem Amiibos from Super Smash Bros. Wii U to put characters like Marth and Ike on your team. You cannot alter their weapons, but I’m sure Ike will do just fine with his sword. Keeping with Fire Emblem tradition, if one of these characters dies on the battlefield, you cannot revive it (just the Fire Emblem characters).


Code Name: STEAM is an odd duck, but once you immerse yourself, the gameplay is classic Nintendo. Like a plumber chasing a gorilla, Nintendo’s strengths rarely lie in its themes, but we grow to love its characters because of how fun the games are to play. That’s what STEAM feels like. It hits U.S. stores for 3DS on March 13.

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: camera with A.I. director, robot arm assistant

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!

The hottest Nintendo Switch games you can get right now

The Nintendo Switch's lineup started off small, but games have steadily released as the console continues through its second year. Here are the best Nintendo Switch games available now.

This list of PlayStation 4 exclusives puts its competitors to shame

The PlayStation 4's game library and incredible selection of exclusive games could make anyone with an Xbox One or Nintendo Switch think twice. Here's our list of the latest and greatest PS4 exclusives.

Take a trip to a new virtual world with one of these awesome HTC Vive games

So you’re considering an HTC Vive, but don't know which games to get? Our list of 25 of the best HTC Vive games will help you out, whether you're into rhythm-based gaming, interstellar dogfights, or something else entirely.

Play your games whenever you want with a MicroSD card for your Nintendo Switch

The Nintendo Switch uses cartridge-based games, but its internal storage may fill up quicker than you would think. Here's what you should consider when picking out a MicroSD card to expand your Switch's storage capacity.

Xbox app lets you access your console while away from home. Here's how

Microsoft's Xbox allows you to access your profile information and launch media content directly from your mobile device. Check out our quick guide on how to connect your smartphone to an Xbox One.
Product Review

‘Resident Evil 2' is a terrifying new virus you'll want to catch

Resident Evil 2 brings the Raccoon City incident to a new generation of players, acting both as a nostalgic throwback and a thoroughly modern horror game with some of the best visuals of the generation.

These are the best indie games you can get on PC right now

Though many indie games now come to consoles as well, there's still a much larger selection on PC. With that in mind, we've created a list of the best indie games for PC, with an emphasis on games that are only available on PC.

Goodbye, Machinima: YouTube gaming channel pulls the plug after 13 years

Machinima, a YouTube gaming channel that was launched in 2006, has suddenly shut down, with all of its videos set to private. The #RIPMachinima hashtag is now making the rounds in social media to reminisce about the channel's content.

Overkill’s ‘The Walking Dead’ delayed indefinitely for PlayStation 4, Xbox One

Overkill's The Walking Dead for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One have been postponed without a new release date. The co-op zombie shooter suffered massive delays, then received lukewarm reviews once it launched for the PC through Steam.

How you can give your PS4 a fresh start with a factory reset

Learn the many ways you can factory reset your PS4. From reverting your settings to factory to doing a full wipe and reinstalling the latest PlayStation firmware, we cover it all here, step by step.

Can't stand keyboard gaming on PC? Here's how to use a PS3 controller instead

Properly connecting a PlayStation 3 Controller to a PC is no easy task, especially when you opt for third-party peripherals. Thankfully, our guide will help you through the process.

‘Fortnite’ update makes you the most dangerous snowman ever

The latest content update for Epic Games' Fortnite adds the Sneaky Snowman item, turning players into stealthy masters of disguise. The update also changes the Sniper Shootout game mode.

Having issues with your PS4? Check out our solutions to its most common problems

Just because the PlayStation 4 is a remarkable system doesn't mean that it's immune to the occasional hiccup. Thankfully, we've vetted some of the bigger PS4 problems and found solutions for whatever might ail you.