Flying in a third person game is always a tricky thing. There are delicate nuances to learn, to ensure you’re moving properly through the skies, and people need to be able to trust that their controls will always left them up, rather than send them plummeting to the earth below. With Rodea the Sky Soldier, flying sounds simple, but getting into the groove can take some time.
Learning how to use the targeting reticle is key, since that directs where Rodea goes. It’s a weird thing to think about. You’d think that after jumping up once, then jumping a second time to take flight, he’d automatically fly in a straight line in the direction you set. Moving the crosshairs to find a spot to guide him to is critical to success. So is knowing that, if you move it an inch, it’s going to change his trajectory.
Following gravitons is important too. By collecting these little bits, Rodea won’t just stay airborne longer. He’ll often lock into a combo. As long as you don’t touch anything, he could follow the whole chain of glowing lights and perhaps even take you exactly where you wanted to go. It’s really helpful early on, since someone just learning the ropes could rely on this digital trail of breadcrumbs.
As you play Rodea the Sky Soldier, you’ll also gradually develop proper judgment of distance and improved depth perception. I must admit, there are some areas where it’s difficult to determine if Rodea could reach a platform without plummeting. It’s only through trial and error that you can see.
Unfortunately, once Rodea does start falling, there’s nothing you can really do. He sinks like a stone. The player is left to watch the poor little guy flail around and can’t even try to move him around in hopes of landing on some bit of nearby ground to break his fall. It’s really frustrating, especially since there are a few instances where the camera issues or landing misconceptions could make it seem like Rodea would absolutely arrive at his destination, only he barely falls short due to a wall, ledge, or other interference, leaving you to watch as he grasps at nothing and falls into the abyss.
Recoil needs to be taken into account too. Attacking an enemy in mid-air seems like it should be a simple task, but effectively dealing damage takes practice. First, you have to know how long Rodea’s airborne attack works. Using gears and extra equipment like the machine gun should only be saved for enemies that can’t be destroyed via normal means, since they’re a limited resource. It’s important to try attacking groups of enemies over ground first, since Rodea’s spinning attack doesn’t last terribly long, meaning it’s possible for you to trigger it too early or even too late. Once he does land a hit, he bounces back from the target. Attacking uses energy, and it’s recommended you keep a watchful eye on his gauges to make sure he has enough power to launch an attack, recover from the recoil, and land safely.
Perhaps the best thing to say is that patience is key. It took me a little over 10 hours to complete Rodea the Sky Soldier. I want to say about 20-30 minutes of that was spent purposely taking my time in the first two levels so I could actually figure out how to fly without getting Rodea killed. Though, some of that was unintentional. I went through the second area three times. The first two were because I had to. The first boss battle is surprisingly difficult, as it is in a closed-area filled with obstacles, which made flying difficult and challenged initial attempts at accurate attacks. It doesn’t help that the boss occasionally puts a shield up so, even if an attack landed, a second would be needed to pierce. Also, if the boss attacked while I was in midair, it could be quite difficult to get out of its way. The third attempt was because I knew those same tricks would appear in future boss fights, and I felt it necessary to replay so Rodea would have a better shot at survival.
Basically, Rodea the Sky Soldier can be frustrating. It takes time and patience to learn exactly how to help this little guy soar safely through the skies. I wouldn’t be surprised if some people get so tired of the antics that they’ll have him walk around, when possible, since it’s often the safer and easier method of getting from point A to point B. Once you do learn to compensate for recoil, camera issues, and depth, as well as know how to properly read and direct the reticle, the game becomes far more manageable.
Rodea the Sky Soldier will come to the Nintendo Wii U and Nintendo 3DS on November 10. Launch copies of the Wii U version also include the Nintendo Wii version of the game.