Rodea the Sky Soldier (Wii) Review

By Albert Lichi 13.12.2015

Review for Rodea the Sky Soldier on Wii

Rodea the Sky Soldier is the victim of some very unusual circumstances. The game's director Yuji Naka, who is best known for Sonic the Hedgehog, had pretty much completed Rodea the Sky Soldier on the Wii, but the game got stuck in publisher limbo for some time. It would ultimately get versions for the 3DS and Wii U that were a stark contrast to the original that Yuji Naka designed. Suffice it to say, the ports were an unmitigated disaster; ugly visuals, unyielding frame-rate and a nightmarish control scheme that do not do Yuji Naka's project justice. Enter NIS America, a publisher that recognised the original creator's game and Trojan Horse'd the definitive Wii version with the Wii U port as a "bonus." Do not accept anything other than the Wii version of Rodea the Sky Soldier. Find out why now…

Rodea the Sky Soldier for the Wii is a bonus disc that comes bundled with the retail version for Wii U. For many fans of Yuji Naka, this bonus disc is the true purpose why NIS America is publishing this game at all. Facing the facts, there is no publisher out there who would dare release a Wii game in this day in age and to do so, the team at NIS America sought to include the definitive version as an "extra." NIS America knows its customers well, as illustrated by the fact that even the cover art for the Wii U version is reversible so that it has all the graphics of a Wii box cover. Thankfully, Yuji Naka's legacy is now safe and secure so the fans can finally play the high-flying action game he intended to make.

Screenshot for Rodea the Sky Soldier on Wii

The storyline is a very light Saturday morning action cartoon affair, complete with anime style rivals that will provide some welcomed boss fights, as well a few battles with giants that are clearly inspired by Shadow of the Colossus. Things do get a bit confusing when time travel gets involved near the end, but not so much that it distracts from the emotional core of Rodea's journey. Surprisingly, some heavy science fiction concepts get introduced, which revolve around the nature of artificial intelligence, choice, and what makes a man/measure of man. It is refreshing to see a game aimed for children tackle such philosophical ideas without ever getting too melodramatic, since at the end of the day, Rodea is meant to be a kind of superhero.

Immediately when the game begins, the differences between the Wii and Wii U port could not be more obvious. It is hard to believe, but the graphics on the Wii version are somehow superior to the supposed more advanced Wii U port. Before so many errors and graphical glitches with shaders were rampant on the Wii U port, but with Rodea on Wii, it is pretty immaculate. The Wii version even has particle and bloom effects, plus so much more colour, so it beggars belief how the conversions came out so awful. Not only does this game look so much better than its 3DS and Wii U counterparts, it is also so much more fluid, running at 60 frames per second (although it does admittedly falter on occasion). Rodea the Sky Soldier does not quite reach Super Mario Galaxy levels of visual fidelity, with very simple polygon models throughout and a restrained art style that complements the low specs of the Wii, but in the end nothing ever really feels out of place. There is even a nifty obscuring atmospheric effect that culls the distant geometry to maintain smooth gameplay, as well as creating a very natural looking visual flourish.

Screenshot for Rodea the Sky Soldier on Wii

It is shocking how last year's Wii was able to run Rodea the Sky Soldier at much higher fidelity than the current generation counterpart, but the most important difference between the various ports of this game is how it plays. Thankfully, the Wii U is backwards compatible and, of course, it would require a Wii remote, but most shockingly it only requires a Wii Remote - no Nunchuk required at all. Yuji Naka and his team at Prope managed to implement a very intuitive control scheme for a third-person action game with just the pointer, a D-pad and a couple of buttons. All camera movement and aiming is handled decently with just the pointer feature, although it is unfortunate that there is a lack of sensitivity options, since the default (and only) setting is not responsive enough, and the invisible bounding box for the camera controls is just too small. Too often the cursor will end up off-screen and get locked for a second because the sensitivity is too unresponsive and it is not fast enough as the camera slowly tracks the cursor's movement. These camera controls and lack of options are the real problems. Although the game is still quite enjoyable and still very playable, the slow and unresponsiveness of these camera controls could have easily been rectified with options. Outside of those issues, controlling Rodea feels very natural and making him zip and zoom around and crash into enemies always feels satisfying.

Unlike the other versions on the market now, the Wii original won't have users needing to upgrade the titular hero. No, Rodea comes fully equipped and doesn't even need to upgrade his health because this iteration lacks a health bar and air meter completely. Instead of a health bar, Rodea simply powers up with an item pick up that can be stacked up to two times - basically giving him up to three hits. Staying aloft has no limits other than the restricted distance Rodea can fly, which enables a satisfying ebb and flow to flight, boosting from target to target like a flea bounding from various animals. What were once permanent tools that could be upgraded - things like the boots or machine gun - are now temporary item pick-ups that replace one another and control as if their stats are maxed out. This removes any tedious grinding and keeps the action of Rodea the Sky Soldier at a steady flow, which keeps the game from getting boring.

Screenshot for Rodea the Sky Soldier on Wii

Rodea the Sky Soldier is about 25 stages of varying length and, unlike the ports, this version on Wii has a local multiplayer mode with the other rival sky soldiers as unlockable playable characters. While it is not terribly deep, it is an amusing distraction and can be enjoyable in a party setting. One feature that sadly does not appear on Wii is the shop to spend the various hidden medals found during stages. As poor as the 3DS and Wii U conversions are, the shop did in fact add quite a bit of replayability since it had some interesting features that would have been enjoyable here, like the unlockable first-person view mode. As it stands now, there is no substantial reason to collect all the medals other than for shallow bragging rights. Despite its flaws, Rodea the Sky Soldier is highly recommended, yet it must be mentioned that this is technically a bonus feature and will most likely become very rare since it is in essence the final Wii game to ever be produced. Mostly fun but rough around the edges, this should indeed please fans of arcade-like fast action.

Screenshot for Rodea the Sky Soldier on Wii

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

Rodea the Sky Soldier on Wii is the game Yuji Naka wants people to play, without a doubt. It is unfortunate that this iteration will become very difficult to acquire soon, since it is genuinely a pretty good title that evokes memories of Skygunner, Megaman Legends and Tail Concerto. The unique and effective control method is pure genius. It is just frustrating that it lacks optional settings to tweak the sensitivity, dead zone, and bounding box to be more palatable. The lacking camera controls are useable, but by the time the final boss rolls around, the limited options will be sorely felt. Rodea the Sky Soldier proved it could soar on the Wii; it is just a shame that it will be doomed to obscurity.

Developer

Prope

Publisher

Kadokawa

Genre

Action

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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