💾Bubble-era cannonball
boy🖥️ (pls comment on lists/reviews, I don't bite)
I play just about everything, but especially Japanese, Korean, & Chinese PC games which the West has overlooked or underappreciated. These range from the turn of the '80s to current day, from classics to kusoge, spanning the earliest JRPGs to the most experimental visual novels. Every month I like to hop between the decades, reviewing games across the medium's history.
If you're interested in classic Japanese PC (J-PC) games specifically, I cover them on Twitter & soon on my website/YouTube channel. You can hang out with me & other East Asian PC enthusiasts on our public Discord server, too:
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Favorite Games

The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind
The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind
Doom II: Hell on Earth
Doom II: Hell on Earth
Xanadu Next
Xanadu Next
OutRun 2006: Coast 2 Coast
OutRun 2006: Coast 2 Coast
The House in Fata Morgana
The House in Fata Morgana


Total Games Played


Played in 2023


Games Backloggd

Recently Played See More

MotorStorm: Pacific Rift
MotorStorm: Pacific Rift

Jul 19

Assetto Corsa
Assetto Corsa

May 02

Deus Ex Machina
Deus Ex Machina

Apr 16

Cortex Command
Cortex Command

Apr 15

Deus Ex: Zodiac

Apr 14

Recently Reviewed See More

Six unlucky victims of a plane crash somewhere in the Pacific Ocean. One island full of hunger, secrets, indigenous peoples, and more. No rescue in sight—just the hope of salvaging the wreckage and radioing for any help out there, or somehow completing one of a few viable vehicles to escape in. It's a rough life, surviving on a deserted island leagues away from home, but Mujintou Monogatari (or "Deserted Island Story") livens up this cute Crusoe-de with raising sim tropes and an optimistic aesthetic. Years before the Survival Kids and Lost in Blue series (plus The Sims 2: Castaway Life!), KSS & Open Sesame produced one of classic Japanese PC gaming's best strategy adventures, and I've played enough to say that with confidence. Its lack of exposure and fan translation, even within the PC-98's Anglosphere fandom, saddens me.
| Marooned in Blue |
The story begins like any good disaster movie: a Boeing passenger jet drifts through stormy weather, doing fine until its systems fail for some reason. With pilots scrambling to avert the worst and the civilians on-board panicking at their descent, it's a small miracle that the player-named protagonist awakens intact on a sunny summer beach. Guiding our high-school boy across the coast, we bump into a motley band of castaways: young and precocious Ayase, girlboss sophisticated flight attendant Erina, overbearing but helpful team dad "Professor", talented college-level computer diva Rika, and dependable tomboy student Saori. Teamwork ensues! They set up a simple shack, promise to put aside their misgivings and differences, and set about collecting the food, water, tools, and know-how to thrive here and eventually return home. As I mentioned earlier, this involves drafting plans (blueprints, in fact) for a few potential vessels, from a sail-less boat to a MFing zeppelin! Story scenes happen as you explore more of the island, earn enough trust with your co-habitants, and inch ever closer to the fateful day.
Where to begin with all the systems Mujintou Monogatari throws at you? The game largely revolves around a top-down view of your current location, usually the beach camp where you'll need to return to for rest and planning. Moving the cursor's pretty much required, some hotkeys aside, as you select commands from a sidebar and then many deliciously decorated menus. KSS wisely avoided any minigames or sequences revolving around reflexes, let alone the typically awkward numpad key controls of contemporary PC-X8 software. Instead, players just have to manage a wide variety of stats, both for characters and the camp's resources. Collecting potable water and fruits becomes a daily ritual, even for the exhausted. Raw materials needed to craft even basic tools, like machetes and rope, require extensive forays into the jungles, streams, and plains of this seemingly untamed land. Everyone can build up new and current skills over time, but at the cost of temporarily lower yields or wrecking someone's mental state. It's the kind of careful juggling act you'd expect from Princess Maker 2, with just as many variables for thankfully more predictable outcomes.
| Deserted Island Foibles |
Unlike in Gainax's iconic raising sim series, though, KSS and the developers offer more plot and cast interactions to maintain the opening's strong pacing. For example, I met the island's major tribe a bit before halfway through the game, a pleasant encounter with locals just as curious about us as we are about them. The Professor gets giddy at the sight of seemingly unexplored ruins; Erina struggles to adapt to a life without Western amenities; Ayase and Saori both vie for the title of Genki Girl, if only to mask their loneliness; and an aloof Rika, seemingly the most capable of the bunch, confides her self-doubt with the protagonist she's starting to fall for. There's enough crisscrossing threads and details that the often repetitive tasks and ventures into unknown territory remain intriguing. As the player nears any of the endings they're pursuing, Mujintou Monogatari also starts to probe interesting ideas—mainly the discomfort of both living here and soon having to depart and leave this tight-knight, caring group of people. Additional interludes like a drunken going-away party (which the whole band participates in, concerningly), plus evidence of WWII-era Imperial presence on the island via a long marooned serviceman, enrich the narrative.
All this gets reinforced in the game loop itself, as you must set up search parties with each person's compatibility in mind. Pair the wrong two characters up and they'll fail spectacularly! On the flipside, smart combinations can lead to discovering secret areas or items earlier, and these dynamic duos also do better at item crafting. Almost every aspect here conveys the importance of communication, compromise, and cooperation in desperate circumstances. The group hardly avoids conflict, but they work through these ups-and-downs in a naturalistic manner, which matches the occasionally silly but serious tone of the story. And this really helps because Mujintou Monogatari, though not brutally hard, is still a demanding piece of software. Players have to not just understand the island, its residents, and where you can forage from, but they also need to raise the "civilization" rating back at camp to progress further.
Crafting becomes increasingly important even before you've fully mapped out the island, and it's the clunkiest system for sure. Every team member can equip various items to aid in exploration, most of which are only accessible after checking out enough hotspots or surveying a given range of the wilderness. Once you've found key items in the wild and added them to a ramshackle crafts shop, then the manufacturing can commence! This involves a lot of less-than-satisfying fiddling around in menus, flipping between screens to assess resources needed for creation vs. what's available at the moment. Still, this spate of poor user interface design didn't bother me for too long. Arguably the trickiest section in this game is the opening hour itself since you've only got a lifeboat's worth of rations and liquids to work with. Moving quick and taking a few risks early on pays off.
| All the Pretty Sights |
Beyond how well it plays and immerses one in this torrid scenario, Mujintou Monogatari has lush, memorable audiovisuals and style to accompany players through their journey. I think people had to work harder than usual to make an ugly PC-98 pixel art experience, and KSS certainly succeeds at visualizing a gorgeous, inviting tropical realm. So many UI windows, land textures, and background CGs pop out in their 640x400 resolution glory, working with the platform's system rather than against. Maybe the music could have been catchier or better developed to match, but it's still a nice set of tunes, ranging from poppy marches to pensive background orchestration. A lot of people clamor to these mid-'90s "aesthetic" PC-X8 adventures and xRPGs for the character designs, among other often pervy reasons. I'm glad to report that the characters here are distinctive and as fashionably dressed as expected from the genre; illustrator VOGUE renders all the men, women, and woodland critters in glittering detail, yet still portrays them in dirty and less flattering situations without issue. So much thought clearly went into how the game looks, sounds, and portrays its subjects, more than I'd expect from a '94 raising sim targeting a largely male otaku audience.
And that's another area in which this excels: a general lack of pandering to any one market. There's a couple raunchy moments (yes, there's the Obligatory Hot Springs Episode), and something of a romance towards the end with one of the leading ladies, but it's tame compared to even KSS' other raising sims back then. We're far from blatantly erotic Wrestle Angels or sussy Princess Maker stuff, for better or worse. Sequels to Mujintou Monogatari would dabble with more fanservice, sure, but it wasn't until Mujintou Monogatari R and then a separate 18+ series that KSS and the remaining developers settled for easy money. The original game acquits itself nicely, balancing the occasional red meat for otaku gamers with no-nonsense, respectful treatment of each heroine's agency and complex characterization. (It's kind of weird how the Professor gets the least development here despite his age, but at least he's not just an oji-san stereotype played for laughs. Cold comfort, I guess.) I'd hesitate to deem this entirely wholesome, yet I'd be more justified in recommending this to anyone curious about PC-98 ADV/proto-VN soft than, well, a bit under half the commercial library which sits firmly in NSFWville.
KSS had found a strong niche by '94 thanks to intimidating but rewarding sims like Mujintou Monogatari, and they wouldn't be going anywhere awful for years to come. They remained one of the last well-balanced publishers releasing PC-98 exclusives into its waning years, and their exploits on Sony's ascendant PlayStation proved even more fruitful. While the first sequel to this desert-island fantasy largely reused the premise and tried out a different set of tropes, Mujintou Monogatari 3: A.D. 1999 transplanted the gather-craft-escape format to an earthquake-ravaged Tokyo, evoking the majesty and it-can-happen-here horrors of kaiju media and certainly the '95 Kobe quakes from that period. Sadly, like many once acclaimed but overlooked Japanese PC game franchises, this one ended up in the easy-horny pit, a victim of cash-grabs and hastily made ero-anime from KSS' own in-house animation firm, Pink Pineapple. Let's not allow that to become the legacy of this obscure series out West. Rather than settle for that or the downgraded (though admirable) Super Famicom port, I hope communities like this endeavor to try out and appreciate the PC-98 original, and ideally get some fan translators interested. Mujintou Monogatari earned a kind of prestige few other sims on the system could, hence its console successors, and it'd be a shame if this didn't get the historic reappraisal it deserves.

Name's right, I love me so googly-eyed Giger bois. Video pinball should try to be this homoerotic more often. I mean, we're whacking balls around in a dungeon, what more can I ask for?! The Crush Pinball series has this almost sexual energy to it, an addictive game loop I find hard to resist. You quickly understand all that's possible, desirable, and repeatable with just one main table and a few mini-tables to spice things up. It's the familiar rhythm of the plunger, flippers, bumpers, and multipliers throwing the odds across screens, from 0 digits to 999 million, threatening us with imminent loss but also the possibility of success. And I think there's something delightfully sleazy about the thrill of it all. Forget the joysticks, the video nasties, the banes of "concerned parents" and the policymakers who answer to them with curfews and dress codes. We want the real thing!
Whether you're just giving it a 15-minute try or aiming to counter-stop, Alien Crush remains as fun and relevant to the genre as it must have been in 1988. This was the best pinball romp of the '80s, stacking up to ye olde Black Knight 2000 and Pin-Bot in presentation and execution. The counter-cultural, tongue-in-cheek pairing of eldritch horrors with a well-balanced table design allowed developers Compile and Red Company to take risks other microchip adaptations hadn't. Unlockable "boss" stages and multiple ways to nab new balls, or toggle safety zones amidst the chaos, makes for a very fair experience overall. Most importantly, though, the pinball physics here are impeccable. Rarely does it feel like sloppy coding's the source of a failed run, and there's almost always some way to recover by smartly timing flips and tilts to control your trajectory. This may not have the sheer amount of stuff that Devil's Crush and its progeny brought, but this inaugural entry in the "not quite pinball" style has held its own against those successors.
| Lunar Eclipse |
Whoever at Compile led development on this, Devil's Crush, and an ever-overlooked Jaki Crush clearly loved post-WWII pinball and similar amusements. (Interviews with ex-Compile staff suggest that Takafumi Tanida was the Crush Pinball games' lead developer, supported by his work on The Pinball of the Dead a decade later) (Szczepaniak 2018, 112). Arcades, dive bars, movie theaters, and other third spaces benefited from the blaring clangs and klaxons these four-legged monstrosities put out. Before our age of eye-straining, dexterity testing shooters and eSports curricula, skill-based bagatelle was the next best way to hone one's reflexes and proudly scream to the world "I'm a creature of leisure!" with enough carpe diem to make Robin Williams blush. It's fitting that pinball video carts and disks would struggle to replicate, let alone enhance, the electromechanical stimuli and complexity of contemporary tables from Bally, Williams, Stern, Gottlieb, and other manufacturers in and outside of Chicago. Few console or micro-computer examples of the genre had much success until the late-'80s, when the likes of Pinball Quest and then DICE's Pinball Dreams showed how upgraded ROM chips and clever design could allow richer, more complex tables and player progression than even the priciest cabinet competitors.
Ironically, though pinball has always had more presence in the U.S. and other parts of the Global West, it's mainly Japanese video game creators who pushed the limits of this style of arcade staple for home audiences. I'm not downplaying the revolution that was Pinball Construction Set, either. Bill Budge's proto-amateur game dev toolkit offered many options to players, from building layouts to tweaking gravity, but it strictly adhered to the possibility space of mid-1900s pinball. Replicating the flashy LED banners, sampled audio, and exuberant light shows popular in '80s arcade-adjacent spaces wasn't going to work on an Apple II, not without compromises. Even virtuosic pseudo-replica tables in releases like System Sacom's Moon Ball still fell prey to wonky physics or a lack of variety. It's telling that the earliest signs of video games advancing pinball tropes came via genre hybrids like Toru Iwatani's Bomb Bee, combining Breakout into the formula to some success. Realistic pinball recreations, on the other hand, wouldn't arrive in force until the '90s, when works like Little Wing's Tristan from '91 became popular on various PCs (Fujita 2010).
Though Sacom and their star coder Mark Flint brought Moon Ball Magic to the Famicom Disk System, expanding the original into a multi-level adventure with some deft, it was a nascent Naxat Soft who'd publish the first majorly acclaimed contender to the video-ball throne that same year. The newborn publisher contracted Red Entertainment, then working on other big PC Engine projects like Far East of Eden, to design and produce an action-packed crowd pleaser alongside technical staff from the ever-reliable Compile. Even if Red was still just as inexperienced with making their own games as Naxat was to publishing, they clearly made a lot of smart decisions. Tanida and co. needed roughly a half-year to craft and gold-master Alien Crush, which gained a global cult following unlike Sacom's product. It may not have been a launch title in Japan (though close enough in concept and legacy), but the Turbo-Grafx 16 localization was a boon for the platform, already struggling against the NES despite its advantages.
| Demon's Undulate |
Alien Crush boots into a minimalist, fleshy-formed splash screen with ominous HuC6280 waveforms purring in stereo. Tap Run, choose Fast or Slow, and then choose one of two music tracks to regale you as the ballistics begin. The opening pull-and-plunge does a proper job of introducing players to an otherwise troublesome quirk, its fade-to-black flipping between halves of the table. Split-second blanks take a bit of getting used to if you've only experienced newer full-scrolling pinball games; any fading here feels unobtrusive after a minute or two, thankfully. Despite the busy visuals, it's easy to keep track of the silver ball leaping from corner to corner, top to bottom, at least on the main table where one can actually lose it. Two sets of flippers, multiple point indicators baked into a grotesque root system, portentous open aisles leading to either the motherlode or the next ball down…it's plenty to take in, but never too much.
The core loop takes our metallic traveler around a circuit of enough cybernetic guts and gnasties to make Ridley Scott proud. In the center-bottom rests the phallic-formed demiurge, with its retinue of x-number panels and fallen angels in the gallery for you to strike down. Contrast this with dual brains and their head henchmen on top, vying for control and kept at tendrils' length by the standard four pass-thru switches. It's the very model of a modern major pinball table, corrupted and reshaped into a torture device for completionists. "Beating" this nets only the most barebones of endings and bragging rights expected from a big-budget machine, the kind you'd just walk away from to find something else worth playing. Playing this with today's content-first mindset is a trap. While there are innovators like Flipnic: Ultimate Pinball and Yoku's Island Express which effectively meld scoring and completionism paradigms, Alien Crush works as much as it can from its limited but compelling set-up. Some would call this a "vibe game", in fact, which is close enough to describing the thick atmosphere roping me back into this hellscape.
Activating each nib, greeble, ramp, and gargoyle nets you some numbers, but also access to a few interesting "secret areas" which break up the pacing in ways a non-console table can't. I wish Tanida and the rest had gone even farther with this idea, which is why I suspect I'll enjoy the sequels more for doubling down on them. These diversions all use the block kuzushi style of ball-and-paddle play that Breakout had popularized in Japan a decade earlier, just using proper pinball physics. It's crunchy and satisfying to bounce skulls back into their hidey holes, or figure out how to juggle between sets of bumpers without the ball jumping down right between the flippers. Unlike the main table and its perpetual endurance tests, players can actually complete these side areas for a perfect score bonus, plus a hidden extra ball in one of the rooms. It'd take Devil's Crush and beyond to really iterate on this concept, but everything works here despite the repetitive, somewhat underwhelming amount of unique bosses and baddies to bop.
| The Best Five |
Most of the PC Engine and TurboGrafx-16's initial lineup suffered from stinkers and well-meaning but flawed software. I can't think of many out there clamoring to play Victory Run or Keith Courage in Alpha Zones nowadays, except myself maybe. Hudson Soft and NEC did their damnedest to make this platform work, though, and their third-party talent scouting paid off with classics like Alien Crush, Blazing Lazers, Cyber Knight, and CD-ROM extravaganzas like, uh, J.B. Harold Murder Club. OK, not all of these are so prestigious, and rarely did the most well-received games venture out of genre norms. (Hudson's own catalog did well enough to avoid obvious blunders, even if they also weren't rocking the proverbial boat with Bonk's Adventure or Nectaris.) Still, if you had to get any of the original four TG-16 HuCards back in '89, this once cutting-edge take on pinball was the smart choice. What better means to showcase the advanced spriting, scrolling, and thematic exploring one could create on this new hardware?
For reasons both selfish and convenient, I wanted to start my PC Engine journey off with a Certified Hood Classic™. All the Crush Pinball titles would have worked, so starting with the original made too much sense. But imagine how difficult a sell this would have seemed in '88 or '89. Who needs video pinball when high quality tables are available at every laundromat, community center, etc.? The highest achievement this series reached was justifying its genre's relevance beyond the realms of coin-boxes and carnival barkers, largely by hooking players with what the big pinball companies refused to provide. I love me some blockbuster '80s cabs from Williams, followed by the lofty heights Stern reached heading into the '90s, but they couldn't sweep the main-table ideal off its feet like Alien Crush did. This underdog of a printed circuit soon had its own imitators, like the oft-maligned Sonic Spinball and similar mascot pinball-ers. It showed to a developing enthusiast press that even the most seemingly impossible of genre hybrids weren't just possible, but laudable! Just as the PC Engine/TG-16 had to prove itself against Nintendo and SEGA's status quo from start to bitter end, so too have creations like this needed to justify their relevance from one era to another. I think everyone working on this at Compile, Red Company, and Naxat Soft outdid themselves.
Fujita, Yoshikatsu. “Tristan.” LittleWing PINBALL Official Website. LittleWing Co. Ltd., November 2, 2010.
Accessed via Internet Archive.
Szczepaniak, John. “Takayuki HIRONO & Satoshi FUJISHIMA.” The Untold History of Japanese Game Developers Vol. 3, 112–113. SMG Szczepaniak, 2018.

Citizens! Look around! Can you hear that fearsome sound? It’s that corpse of a game done dirty, killed off by the 3DS' closing! Enjoy the meme, that so-called Code Name S.T.E.A.M.~! (Load up your drive to fight back the reductive menace) What a dream~, why hate on Code Name S.T.E.A.M.~?! United they stand with every Valkyria, XCOM, and—[record scratch] erm, just those two and Fire Emblem mainly.
| Trouble Brewing |
I speak of Intelligent Systems’ 3DS character strategy experiment that debuted alongside Splatoon yet couldn’t have had a worse fate. It came a long way from rocky origins and launch reception, yet now so few are interested. At best, physical copies go on sale at different stores, retailing far cheaper than any other evergreen Nintendo titles I know. Then people pay attention, or remark that the game deserved its bomba-stic fate. With the death of the 3DS eShop and any pull the system had outside its fans and retro enthusiast press, there's an increasing risk of this becoming a mere footnote, something misunderstood back in 2015 and only a bit less so now.
Code Name S.T.E.A.M. deserves better, both because it plays well and because it’s a great example of the developers' ambitions, even as the Awakening/Fates gravy train steamrolled all in its path. We’re talking about an alternate late-1800s steampunk Earth where Lincoln’s alive, everything looks like pulp fiction, and public-domain American literature heroes work together to defeat Lovecraftian horrors before everyone’s dead. Yes, the premise sounds as bonkers as it gets, including a multi-stage trip to Oz and invading Antarctica with the likes of Tom Sawyer and Tiger Lily in your crew. Compare this to the florid, but often predictable, heightened medieval exteriors of most Fire Emblem worlds. Int-Sys gets extra mileage from fresh settings like late-Victorian London, the bowels of Miskatonic University, and what might as well be the Schwarzwelt from Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey.
This wargame’s more puzzle than adventure, but it feels like both. Due to challenges like relying on units’ sightlines and exploring every nuance of each map to progress, I had to really apply myself in ways I'd expect mainly from a classic Jagged Alliance title. Here’s a game where replaying missions becomes more comfortable and advantageous because nearly every character and strategy can become viable. Want to turtle through long maps, abusing overwatch during the enemy phase while moving across every inch? How about rampaging through on the first try, surviving close calls and leaving collectibles untouched for a replay? It all works! The final set of maps epitomize what’s great about this mix. Elevation conflicts, alien baddies acting in cycles, sightline control, and clutch aiming for weak points are all so satisfying to juggle. Intimidating, also, since your lack of a top-down view, or any map really, enforces a fog of war linked to your guys' individual and combined vision. (Those who hold this decision against Int-Sys when it's clearly a way to solve the age-old problems associated with FoW in Fire Emblem's paradigm will always amuse me!)
I have to admit the game’s pacing isn’t all there, same with do-or-die motivation to complete it (and I only completed this a few years after buying it full price…). The problem almost everyone had around launch—enemy phase speed, which got patched up not nearly quick enough to cool down the anti-hype—didn’t help at all. I think waiting around to see enemies move, take position, and wreck my last move keeps my interest, but it doesn’t appeal to everyone. Beyond that, it’s hard to get in the mood for maps featuring constant reinforcements or intimidating boss encounters. Adding the ABE mini-game at story intervals makes a bit of difference, though, as do the shorter, more puzzle-slanted maps. Code Name S.T.E.A.M. strikes a good balance of map types, mission designs, and introducing new element when needed. Maybe they could have tightened up the mecha mini-game's controls and given it a lot more substance, though.
S.T.EA.M.’s strengths take a bit to properly describe, likely the reason why this will remain a cult classic. The game’s frustrating but rarely unfair, presenting a ton of maps where you find new ways to abuse your party’s advantages. It’s got excellent replayability thanks to later character introductions (meaning new ways to replay earlier maps) and extra modes like Merciless or multiplayer. Eschewing traditional strategy game tropes, like an overhead map or the inability to extend visibility and movement for a unit, gives this game a strong identity. Peeking around corners, hoping to not aggro a counterattack or worse, means there's almost always some healthy morsels of tension to feed on. And the presentation’s quite excellent: catchy progressive rock, the comic-book story sequences, and a short but very memorable eldritch-invasion steampunk story works so well for me. (Shout-out to the voice acting! I loathe Adam Baldwin’s involvement, but everyone fits their roles perfectly, especially James Urbaniak as Randolph Carter.)
| Deadly Dance |
Here’s a list of awesome things you can do in Code Name S.T.E.A.M.:
•Launch bomb aliens onto mines (using John Henry or another explosives user) to create a domino effect of explosions that tears through spawners and enemy lines
•Stun literally every enemy, then have a scout fighter pick them off thanks to extra damage on stunned foes
•Jump from wall to tower to behind the enemy’s weak point using Lion, picking up Gears and plenty of extra steam packs along the way for maximum damage in a round
•Explode enemy squads from afar with penguin droids; waste them with specials like Queeqeeg’s harpoon
•In general, do ridiculous stunts with North American literary legends (plus Abraham Lincoln) that are super silly yet serious—you might call this camp, even
| Intersection: Me vs. You |
I highly recommend trying this bad boy out if you want something like Intelligent Systems’ 3DS puzzlers, wrapped into a wargame premise that’s rather unlike the games it’s frequently compared to. Yes, you have interception fire and squad-level combat like in XCOM or Valkyria Chronicles, but this game emphasizes exploring very precisely-designed environments with stakes changing a lot of the time. Reinforcements, too, are a big No to players who tried or wanted to try this, but I think they’re more manageable here than usual because of your skill pool. Knowledge of character skills, shot-to-hitbox detection, and the foibles of managing your steam gauge makes for a satisfying feedback loop.
Quick note: play this on a New 3DS for maximum enjoyment. That system gives you a 3x enemy phase speed toggle for situations where you really need to skip enemy actions or replay a mission. I used an OG 3DS + Circle Pad Pro to get analog camera movement, so consider that if you want to minimize stylus or face button use. Consult a guide when necessary to find all the Gears so you can get different steam boilers early on. Getting better equipment up through mid-game helps a lot later on while pushing you to understand each map in depth.
In oh so many ways, Code Name S.T.E.A.M. was Int-Sys' attempt to prove they could bring their wargame design chops outside the Fire Emblem mold, synthesizing many well-appreciated aspects of other big-name character tactics games into a unique whole. Woeful release-period impressions. and a lack of retrospective coverage from outlets that ought to have one or two writers interested, basically sunk this title's reputation and left it unable to resurface. It's hardly the fault of some conspiracy of journalists or FE fanboys as some will resort to suggesting. Nor is this (or any) Nintendo software exempt from incisive critique, as I can understand where the detractors are coming from WRT no map, slow between-turn waits, and an emphasis on puzzle solving over constantly improvising to hobble through the campaign. Yet I'm hopeful that this and other 3DS-era experiments like Rusty's Real Deal Baseball can eventually attain some prominence and reevaluation in the system's library, an era of tumult and risk-taking uncommon for the publisher.
(In case you couldn't tell, I wrote this review a few years before joining Backloggd, hence the somewhat different style. Alas, ResetEra wasn't too interested in *Code Name S.T.E.A.M. at the time, and anyone wanting to give it a go now might as well visit a certain website rhyming with "ache chop" to get a digital copy for Citra or their homebrewed 3DS. Thankfully the game runs and plays like a dream in emulation, as this detailed r/FireEmblem poster can testify. I'm sure a replay would reveal some bullshit to me, but also various things I couldn't appreciate at the time.)