Steam Pirates

Steam Pirates is a game from , originally released 31st December, 1969

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Exclusive: Steam Pirates Preview

Since Mecho Wars hit the App Store earlier this year, we’ve been waiting to see what the next game from director Luc Bernard would be. On our recent podcast, Luc described his upcoming game Steam Pirates, and now we’ve got some of the very first screens and character art as well.

On our podcast, Luc Bernard described Steam Pirates as a turn-based, side-scrolling platformer/RPG featuring “fat cats, pugs, and pirates.”

“I guess it’s probably one of the most ridiculous ideas ever,” Bernard said. “But I think it’s going to work. I guess I just decided not even to think what kind of market there will be for the game… I’m just going to insert whatever I want in it, and see what happens.”

We were amazed to hear about “scary-looking skeleton mermaids in fish bowls”, giant ship battles, an ex-rock star main character who has done too many drugs and thinks his sword’s talking to him, and a mask-wearing villain whose face has been burned off in a fire. The combination of wacky and macabre in Steam Pirates makes it seem like it will have an entertaining sense of humor.

“I don’t even know what makes sense in this game,” Bernard admitted on our podcast.

The battles will be turn-based in Steam Pirates, which Bernard describes as being a calmer, more thoughtful approach compared to most action games on the iPhone. He also described the platforming sequences to be Metroid-like, with a Lost Vikings-like mix of different characters.

Ships will be upgradable for a separate set of battles as well, and a part of the game where you have to defend a “pug pub” from cat pirates will be similar to the flick-based Knights Onrush.

From this insane description, we can’t wait to play Steam Pirates. It’ll be out sometime early next year, and we hope to bring you more details soon. In the meantime, tune into our podcast to hear about Steam Pirates directly from Luc himself.

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Steam Pirates Review

Steam Pirates has plenty of hallmarks of a great game: entertaining characters, a creative world, rollicking music, and top notch art. But an excellent RPG also requires a stand-out story and engaging combat. These areas are where Steam Pirates stumbles.

At the start of the game is a pictorial prologue that tells you the main character, a human named Kat, was adopted by feline parents in a world where animals can talk and hold jobs. As she grows up and it becomes apparent that she isn’t a cat, she starts wondering about her parents. Cut to present day: Kat is a kind-hearted pirate and, as the story begins, she sets off on an adventure to find out where she came from. Or so we’re told.

At this point, you’re plopped into a bar run by a dog and quickly sent on your first mission, which has nothing to do with looking for your parents. Instead, you’re searching through a cave for a rock band that has been captured by vicious mermaids. As you make your way through the level, you’ll get acquainted with the gameplay. This is a 2D side-scrolling game, and you navigate the levels by tapping where you want to go. Moving works pretty well, although jumping to and from moving platforms can occasionally get dicey.

Good doggies!

This first cave, like many of the levels in the game, is pretty enormous. That would be a good thing, except that it has lots of branching pathways you need to explore, few identifiable landmarks, and no map. All of which is to say that it’s easy to get lost. Making matters worse, the enemies respawn, so backtracking becomes doubly aggravating.

Speaking of enemies, as soon as you get within range of one, it rushes toward you, initiating combat. There’s no way to avoid the fights, and no way to run away once you’re in them. On the plus side, the combat menu system is intuitive and easy to pick up, and you unlock new abilities as you play, giving you additional attack and magic options. On the other hand, enemies are everywhere, so there’s tons of fighting, and you’ll probably end up using just a couple of moves that deal massive damage (Kat’s sniper shot, for instance).

But the real problem here is that fighting even the most basic enemy takes a long time. For each attack, the name of the attack is displayed for a few seconds, then the attack’s animation happens, which often drags on longer than it should, and finally you have to wait a few seconds as the attacker settles back into his or her at-rest position. Viewed once, this isn’t a big deal. But when you consider all of the attacks that take place in all of the fights (which usually include multiple enemies), plus the backtracking and occasional grinding, it becomes apparent quickly that you’ll be spending much of this game wading through slow-moving combat.

Just your average mermaid spider fishbowl.

And if you get a phone call or die a half hour into one of the longer missions, you have to start back at the beginning of the level, supposing you remembered to save the game there. Like the RPGs of old, saving is a manual affair that you can only do at certain points in the game. That doesn’t mesh well with handheld gaming, which often takes place on the go.

Finally, there’s the story. After the excellent prologue, we were eager to help Kat find her parents, but the story veers off course immediately. With just a few lines of dialogue at the beginning of the game, you’re sent on your first mission with hardly a word from the characters you’re supposed to care about. The same thing happens for the second and third missions. You don’t get to any meaty dialogue until nearly halfway through the game.

When you do get into the more dialogue-heavy parts, however, it’s great. The conversations are goofy and fun, and the characters turn out to be surprisingly well-drawn. There’s even some meta humor, when one of the characters acknowledges being in a videogame. If more of this type of conversation was presented early in the game, players might be more forgiving of the slow-moving combat or, for that matter, make it to the game’s halfway point.

The developers have created a beautiful and interesting world in Steam Pirates, but issues with the combat and the pacing of the story keep the game from realizing its potential. It starts getting good about four hours in, but reaching that point is something that only the most patient of players will bother to do.

Steam Pirates Hands-On Preview and Video

Developer Luc Bernard has been hard at work since releasing Mecho Wars. His latest creation is Steam Pirates, a traditional RPG with a unique artistic style. Forgoing the massive battles of Mecho Wars, Steam Pirates is a much more intimate engagement.

You’ll play as Kat, a human orphan who was left at the doorstep of a charitable family of cats living in the Cat Empire. Kat doesn’t really fit into the Cat Empire, and is mocked and teased for being human. Kat becomes a mercenary, traversing the high seas in search of coin and adventure. Kat’s journeys takes her to some strange locations swarming with menacing adversaries.

The combat of Steam Pirates is turn-based and similar to the Final Fantasy games. The pacing is much slower than the combat in Mecho Wars, but it still requires strategy to survive.

Kat and her crew will have a number of abilities to use in combat, including leadership, which increases your party’s speed, which means more chances for you to deal damage. Your crew will level up over time, giving you more offensive and defensive skills. You’ll have some powerful tools as well, including bombs of the fire, ice, and acid variety.

The combat is a blast, but the real star here is the world Bernard has created. You’ll meet some strange and lovable characters along the way, including a Pug named Jean who will give you new missions. Your enemies range from cats with cannons to robo-nurses that act as healers. The atmosphere is strange and wonderful as well, and the levels seem vast and detailed.

Steam Pirates is really shaping up to be something special. In a world with a thousand movie tie-in games and old franchises chugging along, it’s refreshing to play something so original. Steam Pirates will be released soon.

Steam Pirates Delayed

Oyaji Games has announced today that their highly anticipated follow-up to the fantastic Mecho Wars will unfortunately be delayed.

Stating that the team is unhappy with the current battle system, studio head Luc Bernard told Pocket Gamer that the game has been delayed without offering a new release window for eager fans to look forward to.

Steam Pirates is a bit of an absurd game, and just about anything goes in this game’s universe.

“I guess it’s probably one of the most ridiculous ideas ever,” Bernard said in Slide to Play’s exclusive preview. “But I think it’s going to work. I guess I just decided not even to think what kind of market there will be for the game… I’m just going to insert whatever I want in it, and see what happens.”

It sounds as if the team is going to be scrapping most of the battle system, which probably means this is a good delay for fans anticipating Bernard and Oyaji’s next work. It’s no fun when a major game gets pushed back, but if it’s being done to improve the end product, then in the end it’s probably for the best.