A sidescroller? Sorta; Steam Brigade's ultimate heritage is in games like Rescue Raiders. You and your opponent have bases at opposite sides of an area; you build units at your base, they move horizontally across the screen (which you have to scroll to see the full play area), and the ultimate objective is to take out the enemy base.
Old school gameplay, in other words but, well, very nicely implemented.
Steam Brigade's graphics are amazingly pretty for an indie game, boasting a somewhat goofy steampunk aesthetic. While your base churns out a variety of different types of units, you personally control a dirigible, floating over the battlefield--and while you don't have any weapons yourself, your blimp can lower a huge electromagnet to pick up your units and move them more quickly to key battlefield locations. Moreover, it uses a physics engine to get the feeling of objection motions and responses exactly right... something no old school game could computationally afford to do.
Ryan Thom, the developer, says "Well, we were looking to do something fun with a lot of strategy and depth, but not a lot of conceptual complexity. We took a look at Rescue Raiders (which wikipedia credits as one of the first real-time strategy games) and saw that the side-scrolling perspective provided just that.
"As for the Airship, we knew it was a bit of a risk to have the player fly a ship with no guns, but the more we thought about it, the more we were convinced it was the right thing to do. There are just so many more options availible to the player this way. You can lend a helping hand to your own forces as well as mess with the enemy in creative ways. You can still shoot stuff of course, you just pick up a vehicle with your magnet and approach the enemy.
"Lastly, we went with a steampunk theme because well, we always wanted to."
Steam Brigade is a quirky, stylish combination of retro gameplay with modern technique--and a clear demonstration of how much the conventional game industry has lost by focusing on a handful of bestselling genres and losing sight of the enormous ferment of creativity in its own past.