It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s a soldier?
Rodea the Sky Soldier has had a bit of a troubled history, and almost seemed as if it would never be released. Its initial origination started back as far as 2010 with mention from Yuji Naka, who has worked on Sonic and Nights previously. It’s been a long time in the making, but does that ultimately turn into a good game? We take to the skies to find out if this is one flight worth pursuing.
A brave new world
Players take on the role of Rodea, a sky soldier who has the ability to traverse and take flight against the bad guys. Taking place in the world of Garuda, Rodea will have to explore various regions in his pursuit to take down the Chronos towers and defend the land, all while re-discovering who he is and what is his purpose. The story is presented via cut scenes and in game dialog that move the plot forward. Presentation wise, it’s probably one of the better aspects the game has going for it, and I won’t spoil that pleasure for players. Rodea has a cold feeling to him, but it makes sense within the context of his character arc, and the support characters are fun as well.
Platforms: Wii U
Price I’d Pay: $20.00
How long to beat: Ten hours
Rough take off
Where Rodea seems to be extremely mixed is almost in every other facet of its gameplay. Rodea controls like no other platforming game before it, and might be hard to explain but this is the best way to sum it up. Rodea is able to jump into the air, then hover while the player aims in the direction to take flight, initiating it by hitting another button. During flight he can shoot his gun, aim somewhere else, take off in that direction, or dash into enemies for attacks.
Direct flight control is limited in that aiming and selection are a big factor into it. Of course, upgrades exist and these do in fact make things a bit more enjoyable. Killing enemies, exploring, and finding items all add to collection that can be used in the store for purchases; from faster flight time, sticking to walls for aiming, and more damage, there is plenty to focus on. As players explore they also have to be very mindful of the flight ring that they use to aim. The longer players fly the more it drains, and once out completely Rodea falls from the sky. The only way to keep it going is killing enemies or landing.
Rodea has a huge learning curve, and because it’s not a typical platforming game, with it will come some huge initial and rough first impressions. It’s wasn’t until I had played a few hours and received a few upgrades that things started to click, and the flow of the game started to become more apparent. Yet that isn’t the only thing working against it.
The camera can be pretty horrible at times, with a hard time trying to see where to fly, and during one boss battle I couldn’t even tell where I was for parts of it. I looked like a tiny dot, as it was panned extremely far out. Add in the fact players are trying to glide around, not lose the ability to fly, and hitting a weak point for damage, the frustration can creep up rather fast. Visuals are a huge bust also, and from what I understand this is a port of the 3DS version, and I could believe that as on the TV the textures can look entirely bland and blurry, but gameplay off the gamepad looks better with flaws not as apparent.
Prepare for landing
Rodea the Sky Solider has an interesting story and cast, with a colorful world that is fun to fly around in. Yet that flying around should feel even better, and it just lacks that polished feeling. It’s a unique game and one that reminds me of early era games I played back the Playstation or Nintendo 64. It’s 2015 though, and I can’t overlook all the various issues that bring the experience down, making it feel like more of a relic then a new game released today. It’s tries to do new things and soar high, but it ends up staying rather grounded and is only recommended to folks looking for a unique but flawed experience.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.