Review by Eric Kelly

Review: Rodea the Sky Soldier(3DS, also Wii U & Wii)

Review: Rodea the Sky Soldier(3DS, also Wii U & Wii)

Note: While this review is intended for the 3DS version, there are scores for the Wii U and Wii versions highlighted in bold, respectively.

While Rodea was originally planned as a Wii game, numerous delays almost saw the project canceled. Years later the game finally released on the 3DS and Wii U, but it had undergone many changes, many of which were either negative or just plain unnecessary. Chalk up another title to those that become worse due to publisher meddling, because Rodea the Sky Soldier is one such game, with the 3DS version being the worst of it.

The game is about a robotic soldier named Rodea that has been granted the ability to think and feel like a human thanks to his friend, the princess Cecilia. Unfortunately, a villain named Geardo decides to take over the kingdom and capture the princess for the time key she possesses. Before getting captured she gives one half of the key and sends Rodea to the future to save him and protect the key. This action leaves Rodea completely distraught and without any memories. Of course he's eventually picked up by a girl engineer named Ion, and after some time, regains some of his memories. This is a good thing as Geardo apparently tracks him down. Now filled with determination, Rodea fights back against the Geardo Empire.

The game plays out like a 3D platformer where Rodea can fly into the air and air-dash enemies with speed boosts. There's also some powerups like a gun to shoot things with, or powerups that grant extra hits before Rodea goes down, with each hit resulting in another lost powerup. It plays like a lightgun game with a mix of Sonic and NIGHTS, proving Yuji Naka's old Sega roots. But I'm getting ahead of myself, as this only applies to the Wii version. The 3DS version made by Kadokawa throws out Naka's original vision by hamstringing the flight elements and adding an unnecessary skill progression system. There are also some technical and audio-visual issues, but those other problems are more significant. 

The game limits your ability to fly by instituting a meter that works as a timer, and it's woefully short. Instead, you need to collect crystals to keep you in the air. In the Wii version they work as a means of getting extra lives. Aiming a cross-hair to lock on to an enemy is also more unwieldy with the new button controls for the game, and it's the only control method. There are no ways to use the Wii-mote and motion controls, nor is there a way to reconfigure the button layout. This is a shame as the Wii version's motion controls are excellent. That version also has control limitations that could be improved by allowing the use of nun-chuck for other things allowing the d-pad to also adjust the camera instead of aiming away to the sides of the screen. At least the motion controls are leagues better than the button setup on either the 3DS or Wii U Gamepad and Pro Controller. Being able to have unlimited flight in a level is much more preferable with all the player needing to do is point and click, and shake to boost. It just doesn't make any sense to alter this.

The game also has a skill progression system, which feels totally unnecessary, as it feels like a shallow attempt to give it more depth. Not content to ruin the game there, Kadokawa also managed to de-saturate the colorful nature of the Wii version's visuals. Despite this the game still has frame-issues. The Wii U version is actually a port of the 3DS version, and the framerate issues are still present although less so. The audio also feels a bit subdued, and the game is way more tutorial heavy than the Wii version.  Some of the boss fights in the game also have arbitrary Quick Time Events that need to to both aim and press specific buttons. It's a shame that Kadokawa Games took Naka's work and pooped all over it. The Wii version is the game that he created, and the one that he actually urged people to play. Unfortunately the only way to play it is to be lucky enough to have bought a first print of the Wii U version. There doesn't seem to be any plans to get the game on the eShop either. If you can find the original version on Gamefly or something, by all means go ahead and get it. It's easily a much better game. While the Wii U version is slightly better as a C rating, the Wii version easily deserves a B+  

The Bottom Line: A great game on the Wii, that unfortunately was canceled and then migrated to the 3DS and Wii U, where the game underwent many awful changes. The great Wii version is only available on the first print editions of the Wii U game.

Acquisition method: Digital codes provided by NISA. 

Our Grade:
The Good:
  • The Wii version of the game is much better than it's 3DS and Wii U counterparts, and plays more like a light-gun game crossed with Sonic and Nights.
  • The music and story in the game are terrific.
The Bad:
  • The new mechanics to the game were unnecessary.
  • The Wii U and 3DS versions don't have more control options.

Eric is one of the co-hosts of the RPGrinders podcast, as well as a freelance video game writer. You can follow him on Twitter @EricRPG .

Review by - 1/10/2016 5:04 PM253 views

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