Sonic + Nights = Awesome Flying Action!;
The copy of Rodea: The Sky Soldier I got to play ran off a Japanese 3DS build, and it didn’t take long for me to discover the lineage of games behind it, having been created by Yuji Naka, developer of Sonic and Nights into Dreams. A 3D platformer, Rodea combines the platformer tradition of Sonic with the flight of Nights wand a speed boost mechanic for successful collection of items.
Rodea controls as an action platformer with classic running and jumping, and a lock system and gun for attacking. As the sky soldier, you move through a world of flight, where hitting the jump button a second time in the air allows Rodea to set a target for his flight in any direction. Holding down the B button allows Rodea to spin, increasing flight speed and turning the flight path into an attack path.
While the NISA PR rep, Tiffany Chin, told me that the gameplay might seem strange at first, I found the controls made intuitive sense almost immediately; if you need a course re-direct, simply press the jump button again, reorient yourself, and fire off in a new direction. That is, until your stamina bar runs out—which is upgradeable as the game continues—at which point you fall to your doom or whatever island is beneath you.
Rodea has an interesting history, as Naka began development on the game back in 2010 for Nintendo Wii, intending for the game to use the Wii-mote for an even more intuitive sense of control. However, the Wii was on the way out at that point, and though the game was completed for the console in 2011, it was passed over due to the Wii’s decline until it was picked up by Kadokawa Games, who refitted it for Wii U and 3DS. But as a bonus, the Wii U version will ship with the completed Wii version as a separate disc (the Wii U version doesn’t use Naka’s original control scheme), so players can have a chance to play the game as originally intended.
One other way the game resembles Sonic is how it offers different paths through its levels. Though Rodea can follow the strings of gravitons (which again, feels incredibly satisfying) there are rewards within the levels for moving off the beaten path and flying Rodea though other areas of the levels. Rodea doesn’t just combine the qualities of Sonic and Nights, though; it also features Shadow of the Colossus-sized bosses, which take advantage of the flying mechanic for targeting and scale of play.
It can’t be stated enough that—though the 2011 game shows a bit of its age in the visuals and play—the freedom of flight is exhilarating, the sense of speed when dashing through a string of gravitons has a sense of adrenaline, and the exploration promises to add quite a bit of replay value. Rodea the Sky Soldier will release on September 22, 2015 for Wii U and 3DS.