Rodea The Sky Soldier is the brainchild of Yuki Naka, the man responsible for Sonic, over the years he has created quite a number of games since Sonic and the latest is the Wii U release of the Wii title of the same name. After all these years, does he still have the touch.
Rodea is a robot, who serves Cecelia, Princess of the Garuda kingdom, the story kicks off with the kingdom under attack and Rodea and Princess Cecelia attempting to escape with the Time Key. However, a monstrous sized enemy attacks and Rodea is knocked out cold for 1000 years and upon his reactivation he remembers little of who he is and what happened prior. He recalls his mission to save Garuda, but not who gave it to him and as the story progresses, he meets some characters who help give him clues as to who he really is. The story is not all that exciting, its actually rather bland and only made interesting by the characters that tell it in game, while they themselves are nothing to special and do tend to cling to the stereotypes of their roles.
The gameplay is perhaps the area where most people will be divided, on one hand it is a wonderful and crazy system that is sure to provide a challenge unlike anything you have seen before and on the other it’s a mess of a system that requests you be able to pull off impossible moves at a moment’s notice. Rodea can move around the world by running on the ground, but he is slow and unlikely to get far as most of the game takes place on large floating islands, in order to gain ground, you will need to take to the air, which is the core of the game.
Flight is wonderful and also chaotic, when you are in the wide open spaces, moving around is a breeze, but when you are inside caves, surrounded by enemies or just in a tight spot, the game can become a challenge unlike anything else around. In order to fly to where you want, you need to jump in the air, then move the reticule to where you want to fly and then you are on your way, it is quite a simplistic system that is easy to learn. If you are attempting to hit a checkpoint bell or item box, the aiming is generous with its assistance, so even if you are not spot on, as long as you are near the right area you will hit your mark.
Taking on enemies in the air is a little more challenging as when you get close enough, hitting the attack button will send Rodea into a spin attack, that will boost him forward, while dealing damage to the enemy. If you are too far away and the attack ends before you hit, you will bounce off, which results in one of two things happening, first is that you will lose track of the enemy and then spend precious time attempting to find them again, or you will be bounced away and unable to get back, the results of which is usually a slow fall to death. The problem is though, that you can experience the same issues when you are attempting to navigate around tight spaces, you will find yourself bouncing off walls and such more often than anything else.
What makes the game seem easy though is the large open spaces you can fly around in, before the tight environments appear, while the flying is not unlimited, you can cover a lot of ground when you are doing it. The issue is that the open spaces are almost empty of things to do, apart from attacking enemies that appear and even then, you won’t need to do that all the time. You can actually skip a lot of the combat, but doing so will hurt you down the road as enemies will drop scrap you can use to upgrade Rodea.
The other downside to the game is it is not pretty, the game is really bland and you can tell it’s an up scaled Wii title. There are blurry textures everywhere, the enemy design is basic at best, but the worst part is the game has multiple looks through out and not one stands out as the best. The game looks like a generic 3d platformer, but then at times some cutscenes play out with a chibi inspired look, but then others use 2d anime cut outs, the mixing of styles never clicks. The 2d cut outs look the best with the other styles looking cheap and nasty.
From an audial point of view, the voice acting is on point and while it won’t win any awards, the cast does deliver solid performances all around, with Rodea having an almost likeable quality, except when he has no memories. The sound effects don’t pack any real punch, with elements sounding hollow and while the music does a great
job, probably the best of a bad situation, it is not likely you will be jamming to it anytime soon.
Rodea The Sky Soldier is a game that is hard to recommend, when the flying and combat works, it is spectacular, but when it is not working, it is a nightmare of a game. Thanks to bland environments and stereotyped characters, there is little appeal to keep going forward throughout the story.