Rodea: The Sky Soldier – Review
Follow Genre: Adventure, Flying
Developer: Kadokawa Games
Publisher: NIS America
Platform: Wii, Wii U, 3DS
Tested on: Wii U

Rodea: The Sky Soldier – Review

Site Score
5.5
Good: Appeal, Concept, Characters, Story
Bad: Controls, Camera, Concept was not executed properly, Game feels as it was not tested, Should have stayed in the over for quite some time
User Score
6.3
(4 votes)
Click to vote
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 6.3/10 (4 votes cast)

Rodea: The Sky Soldier already struck us as a rather peculiar game, even before we were able to get our hands on it. Not only did the visuals reminds us of the classic title Nights Into Dreams but we also felt a small hint of the more classic 3D Sonic games. When we found out that the designer of the game also worked on those mentioned titles, we were not sure what to expect, as some of the classic Sonic titles were stunning, but the franchise has slowly been pushing out one rubbish title after another. We were hoping this new title was more along the lines of the retro games Yuji Naka worked on. Retro was indeed the right term for this one, but not necessarily in the good sense.

Rodea The-Sky Soldier Logo

Story

Every thousand years two different dimensions overlap, one is the peaceful world name Garudo, whilst the other one houses the Naga Empire. The Naga Empire is inhabited by robotic beings, who are struggling to survive as their resources are slowly dwindling. Nonetheless, they find out that Garudo still has many resources but they have one thing the Naga Empire doesn’t require, namely the general population. Emperor Geardo of the Naga Empire is intent on linking both worlds together during an overlapping phase, so he can keep sending his invasion forces to take over, get rid of the inhabitants and take whatever he can.

This brings us to Rodea and princess Cecilia, who doesn’t agree with the plans of her father, Emperor Geardo. Rodea, even though he is a robot, cares deeply for the princess and aids her to foil the plans of the nasty emperor, but it seems the Naga Empire is on to them. This forces the princess to make a heartbreaking decision, namely to give a piece of the key that links both worlds together to Rodea and force him to go to the other world, sealing the doorway shut. Rodea passes out when entering the new world and slumbers for  1000 years before he is once again woken up by a friendly inhabitant of Garudo. With a hazy mind he is slowly trying to remember, but it seems that Geardo is back, as the new overlapping period is right at Garudo’s doorstep.

The story is brought in a rather simplistic way, making the game accessible for young and old. A certain fairytale like charm can be found scattered throughout the dialogues and cutscenes, making the game have an appealing plot.

Rodea: The Sky Soldier

Graphics

Having tried out the Wii U version of the game, we weren’t all that impressed with what Rodea had to offer. Somehow the game looked like a Nintendo 3DS port and it seemed more like a normal Wii game, rather than a Wii U title. Everywhere there seems to be a lack of detail, with empty environments and hardly any extra eye candy. Nonetheless, the colors are very vibrant and they do hide a lot of the otherwise dated graphical quality of the game.

The cutscenes and the dialogue sequences on the other hand actually look very cute and make us sad that the rest of the game isn’t on par with this portion of the game. You’ll be treated to a very cute cast, with a certain appeal that will make you continue flying through the otherwise bleak, but colorful, landscape.

It’s one thing to have dated graphics, but it’s another to merge with walls, sink into the ground and have other graphical issues that are typical of a game that was released in 2000. All of these minor ‘glitches’ simply reduce the little beauty the game has to almost zero, at least outside of the cutscenes.

Sound

Sound wise the game is just like many of the other NIS America titles, namely great. You’ll be treated to a great voice acting cast, and mood setting music. All dialogues and cutscenes are accompanied by a superb voices, adding a lot of extra value to the otherwise flawed graphical experience. The voices are properly chosen and they help to add another layer to the story, making it a tad more adventurous. Nonetheless, the dialogues are a tad less dynamic than those we are used to in other NIS America published games.

Rodea: The Sky Soldier

The music might not take up fairytale-like proportions, but it suits the game and setting quite well. Adventurous themes, as well as rather relaxing ones are the main mood setters of the game.

Gameplay

Rodea: The Sky Soldier is an action adventure game where the ability to flight is the key mechanic of the game. This means you’ll mainly be flying from one floating island to another to battle mechanic enemies, collect items and find your way to the goal.

The game is divided in several chapters, which are basically different small stages in which you’ll have to reach the end goal, defeat enemies or even beat a giant boss to make the world safer once more. Your abilities are rather basic, as you’ll just be able to walk around, shoot untouchable targets with a very weak rifle, bash your foes and fly around.

As walking around is often not an option in the game, as you’re traversing between different floating landmasses, you’ll have to resort to flying. Even though on paper this concept is quite amusing, the execution is simply horrid. To start flight you’ll have to jump up and target something in order to set your course. When doing the latter, you’ll notice that aiming for open air is not an option because you have no physical target (there is a separate lift off button that lets you rise in a straight line though). This means you’ll always have to lock onto a target, be it an enemy, an item or simply a piece of structure or land. Nonetheless, with the constant shifting camera, the random bounce back when touching something and the very weird angle of approach you’ll more than once miss the target you’re aiming for, get stuck behind something or simply screw up when things seem to be headed your way.  Throw in this title’s very clunky controls, and you’ll be fighting the game, rather than the ingame enemies.

Rodea: The Sky Soldier

Not only do the weird swerves of Rodea often mess up your plans, the camera makes it so that you often don’t see if you’re really close to an enemy or not, and you’ll bump right into them, taking damage. While you could simply use your roll attack, which resembles the one Sonic uses, for some reason you’ll never know if it works, as the longer distance ones tend to fail whenever they feel like it, forcing you to come closer and closer. Shooting is no real option as it hardly does any damage. All of this together tends to make the combat rather tedious and perhaps even dreadful.

Another thing that does not seem to work properly when flying, is the activation of ‘chains’. You’ll be able to collect gold tokens, which are often grouped together in a line, which normally activate a small boost when you connect with one of them, dragging you through them. This normally helps closing gaps, keeping you afloat longer or simply makes sure you collect them all, as aiming for one at a time is nearly impossible to do within a reasonable amount of time. Sadly, this mechanic more often does not work, causing  a discomforting aspect.

Last but not least, there is the camera, which is probably the most atrocious thing in the game. Adjusting the camera angle is not a simple task and when you attack an enemy, Rodea will bounce back, causing disorientation, often resulting in having to find your bearings for a long time, sometimes resulting in death. Many of the problems mentioned above could also be fixed if the camera support was decent, which it sadly isn’t.

Nonetheless, Rodea does have a few fun features, such as the option to unlock special areas or being able to upgrade Rodea’s powers slightly, creating a bit more flow in the game. Whilst these features are quite simple, they give something extra to strive for.

Rodea: The Sky Soldier

Conclusion

Rodea: The Sky Soldier is a very mediocre experience when it comes to the overall mechanics of the game. Luckily beneath it all this game has a bit of a fairytale like charm and even though it might cause a bit of rage from time to time, it does have something appealing that will make you continue. On paper the idea was good, when playing it feels different, which is both positive and negative, but overall the execution is rather atrocious. Worth it for the story, the cute characters and the concept but nothing more.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 6.3/10 (4 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
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Rodea: The Sky Soldier - Review, 6.3 out of 10 based on 4 ratings

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