We've seen a number of excellent eShop releases in 2015, and a handful of weekly updates that have been rather exciting, but the 10th December Nintendo Download Update is right up there among the best. On Wii U there's Shin'en's FAST Racing NEO while on 3DS there's Image & Form's SteamWorld Heist - both of these games received 9/10 ('Excellent) in our own reviews here on Nintendo Life. Terraria, lest we forget, also lands this week on 3DS after a long wait.

We've covered FAST Racing NEO and SteamWorld Heist a fair bit, including a series of behind the scenes mini-features for the former, and a broader one-off feature for the latter. Now, with Heist's launch day here, Image & Form CEO Brjann Sigurgeirsson has given us early access to a press release that is actually an open letter to SteamWorld fans; we thought we'd share it with you.

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Dear all,

After two years of developing SteamWorld Heist, our biggest effort to date, we've come out on the other side. Towards the end we beat a near-impossible time schedule to have the game approved on the first try by Nintendo of America and Nintendo of Europe. We made it: it would be released in 2015. A week ago we sent out for reviews and wrung our hands in giddy, dreadful anticipation of the verdicts. And we passed that test as well: in terms of reviews, SteamWorld Heist is a resounding success.

SteamWorld Heist is a game that requires a longer explanation than a brief elevator pitch. It's a new game, a mashup of genres where the sum constitutes something unique and larger than its parts. In short you control Captain Piper, who commands a rag-tag band of steam-driven robot pirates throughout strategic, turn-based shootout missions. It's set in 2D, so you can use the environment to bounce shots, take cover and get the upper hand. You'll find weapons and equipment, collect swag and gather experience to upgrade your crewmates, while you're slowly getting tangled up in a war of factions.

Today, December 10, SteamWorld Heist is finally out of our hands. It's strange that we cannot really affect it anymore. From today it will be put to the real test - the judgment of the Nintendo 3DS community. When we released SteamWorld Dig on Nintendo 3DS in 2013, we came from nowhere and were embraced, lifted up. You can't imagine what that's like. Because of that, since then we've been determined to give as much back as possible: to make a game so great that it could change people's preferences, to make them play a game they thought they wouldn't like - and ending up loving it.

I believe we've made such a game, and here it is. With it, I hope we never have to listen to phrases like "It's a great game... for an indie studio," because it implies that indie studios will somehow always be second-rate. With such a preconception, we cannot charge adequately even when making top-notch games, and in turn it means that we can't be brave enough, economically and creatively, to go all in.

Well, we have gone all in this time, and we're not afraid. Games aren't indie or AAA - they're just better or worse. We know we've made one of the best games this year, and we want you to find that out for yourself. Your faith in our promise is the only thing we need to continue creating magic. Thanks for supporting us.

Brjann Sigurgeirsson

Image & Form

SteamWorld Heist has an introductory price of $16.99 / €16.99 /£11.99 until 31st December, with all purchases in that launch window also receiving a free 3DS HOME Theme.