Code Name S.T.E.A.M., the new strategy game from the studio behind the Fire Emblem games, is set to release on March 13th with a cast of characters pulled from every corner of classic American fiction taking on an alien invasion. As its release on the Nintendo 3DS draws near, let’s look at all of the announced characters that you can recruit for your squad and not only examine their roles in the game, but also the famous stories that they originate from. The only ones I’m leaving out are Abraham Lincoln and the Fire Emblem characters as I’m fairly certain you’re already familiar with the great emancipator while Marth and friends are merely making cameo appearances.
The main character in the Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane, Henry Fleming acts as the field leader of the team and is the most prominent character in the game’s marketing. A fictional soldier serving in the American Civil War, Henry fled in fear during his first battle, but gained the courage to return to the battlefield and stood his ground even when he was left without a weapon. As a member of S.T.E.A.M., Henry is a balanced fighter with the assault fire of his Eagle Rifle. Whatever the mission, Henry is sure to be a valuable addition to the team.
A famous American folk hero, John Henry is known as the man that fought the machine to prove the value of good old-fashion sweat and tears in the face of automated assembly. As a member of S.T.E.A.M., John has embraced the machine for the greater good and takes on the alien menace as a powerful assault character. Armed with a hammer and a supply of grenades, he can burst through crowds of enemies with ease.
One of Dorothy’s companions in L. Frank Baum’s The Wizard of Oz, the Lion is a fearsome beast with his share of self-esteem issues. However, given that he’s dropped the ‘Cowardly’ part from his name, it looks like he’s already found his courage and will have no problem facing down the alien threat. In fact, Lion will be able to tank damage and leap directly into the fray with his Lion Launcher ability. Also, looks like he didn’t step out of Oz to aid S.T.E.A.M. on his own.
Another hero from The Wizard of Oz, the Scarecrow provides area control with his supply of pumpkin-based landmines and health pick-ups. The Scarecrow has been given a Halloween-style makeover and bears more of a resemblance to fellow Oz denizen Jack Pumpkinhead than his own classic depiction. He’s never been the sharpest tool in the shed, but he was able to rule as the new king of Oz for a short time following the events of the first novel. Given that both the Scarecrow and the Lion are in S.T.E.A.M.’s ranks, its a safe bet that the Tin Man will join in on the action as well.
I’m not sure why S.T.E.A.M. would ever arm up a child and send him into battle with savage extraterrestrials, but I probably shouldn’t be surprised given how frequently kids are used to pilot giant robots in this exact situation. The titular character from Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, he is street-smart trickster known for manipulating people into getting what he wants. That cunning carries over into his appearance as a member of S.T.E.A.M. as he is fairly weak in direct combat, but he can stun enemies with his Punch Gun and can scatter mines across the battlefield.
Including a minor character from Peter Pan while no other characters from the story have been announced is a bit of an odd move. Than again, S.T.E.A.M. has been built up as an all-American team while Peter Pan is a British tale and Tiger Lily is simply one of the most famous Native American characters in fiction. On the other hand, the action of the game is primarily set in Britain and we haven’t seen all of the playable characters yet, so Tiger may have a few friends waiting just around the corner. As a squadmate, Tiger is the team medic with abilities focused on healing teammates.
I bet you weren’t expecting a whale-hunting cannibal to show up on this list. Well, Queequeg is exactly that. One of the main characters in Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, Queequeg is the most fearsome member of a crew trained to slay giants of the deep. Still, he does have a softer side to him as he quickly became good friends with main character Ishmael. Apparently, Codename S.T.E.A.M. will represent this side of him by arming him with a supply of explosive, clockwork penguins. That would certainly have given Moby Dick a different tone, but I can see Melville dedicating about ten pages to explain exactly how it works.
If you thought the cast couldn’t get any stranger than a cannibal wielding penguin-shaped explosives, how about someone straight out of Lovecraftian horror? Randolph Carter is a recurring character in the works of H.P. Lovecraft and often considered an avatar for Lovecraft himself. Given that the villainous aliens take a good deal of inspiration from Lovecraftian monsters, Randolph is certainly the kind of expert that S.T.E.A.M. would want. He is a utility character with the ability to bait enemies with his Unspeakable Lure and protect teammates with his Eldrich Shield. Just don’t ask where he got the meat for that lure; it’s unspeakable for a reason.
The female sniper Fox is easily the most mysterious of the current cast with no clear literary inspiration. As such, the following is purely speculation. For one, there is an official screenshot of her standing in front of what appears to be a Mexican flag or at least an alternate universe version of it for the game’s stylized take on the world. Now consider that the Spanish word for fox is ‘zorro’ and it’s a fairly safe bet that she is here to represent the famous swashbuckler Zorro, who was one of the major inspirations for comic book hero Batman. The only problems with this idea is that she isn’t referred to as Zorro while every other character is directly named after their inspiration and the fact that she is a she while Zorro has always been male. It’s probable that Nintendo and Intelligent Systems are concerned about copyright disputes surrounding the character and opted to create the Fox as a tribute to Zorro rather than try to use the original.
The most recent character revealed in the official sing-along trailer (yes, that is a thing and this game is quite weird in case you haven’t already noticed), Califia is a pagan warrior queen of the fictional Island of California and the namesake of the actual state of California. She joins S.T.E.A.M. armed with a powerful rocket launcher that can blaze down groups of enemies with massive damage. Unfortunately, there’s currently no sign of the griffins that she and her exclusively female army were known to ride into battle. We can still hope.
That’s all of the playable characters that have been announced so far. Given the diversity that we have seen, there is almost no limit on the characters that we could see join the roster. Who do you hope to see added to the line-up? Personally, given the concept of figures of classic American fiction battling monstrous aliens, nobody seems more appropriate than pulp sci-fi original John Carter of Mars. After the infamous Disney film, he could certainly use some good press.