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Steam-Heart's (Saturn) artwork

Steam-Heart's (Saturn) review

"I'll admit I have pretty low taste in games sometimes especially shooters, but that's mostly due to the fact that the shoot em' up genre is sort of like Black Metal music: it always delivers whatever you're seeking and when a shooter introduces new and interesting concepts or aesthetics, then there's no denying you're getting more bang for your buck. "

I'll admit I have pretty low taste in games sometimes especially shooters, but that's mostly due to the fact that the shoot em' up genre is sort of like Black Metal music: it always delivers whatever you're seeking and when a shooter introduces new and interesting concepts or aesthetics, then there's no denying you're getting more bang for your buck.

While the concept of flying into space and shooting everything has been tried and tried repeatedly, there are few ways a developer can really mess it up and by working from this a developer can bring forth some original gimmicks or style to the game that make it shine from the rest of the crowd.

Steam Hearts is one of those games that does this; though admittedly its execution on the Saturn is crippled a little, Steam Hearts still remains a unique and original shooter despite being a little drab and a wee too kinky.

Initially the premise involves a generic Earth-like anime land consisting of practically every anime fantasy stereotype as its inhabitants such as elven men and women with stupid hair and seemingly natural rainbow hair colors including youthful characters with grey/white strands, cat girls, fox girls, tiger girls and the occasional girls with horns (which I have to admit is kind of cute and really cool) living in an advanced society. Said society is separated into five distinct zones guarded by five separate scantily clad young women each possessing their own defense force consisting of giant robots, kamikaze ships, stationary gunners, boats, cruise ships and cows. However, an unseen party comes in and makes all five of the young ladies go insane with power which causes them to launch an attack on their own zones using their own robot fleets.

Apparently, the sole heroes of this calamity consist of two adopted siblings Fallandia and Blondia, the former being a crazy cat girl and the latter being an underfed male and the only male in the story. These two apparently know that the five guardians have been infected with a virus, but rather than kill the guardians have decided to heal them with a vaccine residing in Blondia's p-

Okay, I'm going to have to cut myself short there, but hopefully you get the jiz- gist of it.

Steam Hearts is a shoot em' up all the way through in that you have no other objective beyond destroying every robot you see and damaging the end level boss' mech so you can have Blondie practice his moves.

The combat consists of the bog standard Raiden weapons including a straight firing laser and a wide shooting vulcan weapon, but there are some notable innovations added to your arsenal. You get a wide variety of secondary weapons consisting of napalm bombs, a pre-Radiant SilverGun laser sword, pre-Galactic Attack homing lasers (only stronger), hunter options, straight firing missiles and such, each of which adds a load of destructive potential no matter what.

The gimmick doesn't end there, because you can collect up to three different (or the same) secondary weapons and you can detonate each one as a Bomb weapon which unlocks a number of unique attacks: the Hunter weapon boosts the speed of your ship and encircles your ship forming a super-powered kamikaze shield, the Radiant SilverGun sword grows in size to the point where ti takes up a tenth of the screen and the homing laser and missile weapons overload, launching a barrage of miniature missiles and lasers.

Rather than collecting speed-up icons, you can boost your way out of danger using thrust jets, but doing so is a little tricky as opposed to just adjusting your speed. You also get a few shooter staple items and weapons such as ground force bombs and a shield icon, but enough on the equipment checkout all ready.

The levels all vary in settings as you start out in an ocean level and you make your way across every other distinct zone such as the desert level, industrial zone, countryside and the sky zone which I kept expecting to be the ice level, but it's hard to do the nasty on top of one's ship at the end of the level when it's freezing, isn't it?

Graphically speaking, the game isn't too bad. It's like Shienryu in that the graphics are definitely passable, but they're thankfully far from crappy. Unlike Shineryu however, Steam Hearts lacks the apparent transparency effects and the sprites aren't as well detailed.

Steam Hearts does have a unique depth perception though as you can notice casual good graphical touches like how ground forces from far below you fire lasers that start off tiny and grow in actuality as they approach you and some explosion effects for the big enemies are nice and distinct, but all in all the graphics aren't jaw dropping.

Speaking of eye candy, the end level cut-scenes are very nicely drawn and are inundated in color and detail. In case you're wondering, no, there aren't any naughty bits to see, even though on two instances nipples would have been VERY present, but thanks to air brushing you won't have to cover your eyes.

The Saturn version however is definitely the weakest of the versions in regard to sexual content which may or may not matter to most of you, but I have to say I was both amazed and shocked at how saucey the PCE version (I wasn't offended mind you because I don't get offended easy).

That being said though, I have to admit that the sexy cut scenes do tend to drag on a little. In an appealingly demented way it's easy to forgive seeing how you're for the most part listening to the action rather than seeing it which can be very effective, but what doesn't work is when the dialogue and story line tend to get in the way of the sauciness. On one occasion, the heroes had a three minute long conversation while the bare naked boss girl was staring at the two of them wondering why they needed her naked for what sounds like a bloody political debate!

Even worse is that sometimes the dialogue cuts in when nothing is happening during the scene. There was literally a moment where the screen faded to black for a minute while the heroes started talking after subduing the boss girl and it ran for almost two minutes before I even saw what the next frame was going to be.

Sadly, the port's drabness doesn't end there as the audio section suffers from a certain blandness that wears a little on the game's action. There are very few sound effects in the game with only one or two sounding unique and distinct. The music on the other hand takes its time in presenting any action. Much like the game's difficulty, the soundtrack won't actually kick in with intensity or pep until the fifth level with the previous songs and boss themes sounding way too silent for their own good and the game's weird electronic jazz sound blaring in at almost random occasions.

Had the game taken a few musical cues from DoDonPachi II's techno beats and Grind Stormer's bizarrely kinky soundtrack (complete with snythisized harmonica), then Steam Hearts would have definitely stood out in the action and slinkiness departments.

Now I know a lot of people are going to be hesitant on getting a home console hentai game especially when you defeat the would-be villainous women through sexual means, but it's really not that offensive. Hell, we live in a generation where we keep expecting the needlessly under-dressed villain to die at the end of their rampages because that's usually always the case in most games no matter what the genre, so anyway to avoid an antagonist cliche for me anyways is a-okay (so long as said antagonist doesn't become a reoccurring villain). Besides, there are few overly destructive games that advocate sex over the sword in general that it's hard not to commend Steam Hearts for at least being original.

So over all, I'd have to say that despite its flaws, you should at least give the game a chance; you may not find it worth more than $40, but it delivers both goods in equal doses and there are so few games like it, why pass it up?

newalone4's avatar
Community review by newalone4 (June 30, 2008)

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