Wii impressions in the year of our Arceus 2015.
Of the three versions of Rodea the Sky Soldier, the Wii one is definitely going to be the hardest to find. No review copies of the Wii game were sent out, since download codes were supplied to reviewers. It’s a shame, since right-stick controls do make the Wii U game – clearly ported up from the 3DS version – somewhat more playable, the Wii version that only comes with first-run physical copies of the Wii U game is the best way to see Yuji Naka’s vision.
I fully expected that the game would control with the Wii Remote and Nunchuk, so it was a surprise when the game asked me to “remove the attachment” on first boot. It turns out that the game is controlled entirely by the Wii Remote, and functions that use all four face buttons on the modern consoles are all handled with two. You use the pointer to aim, and can choose to use the A or B button to fire in the direction you’re pointing at. Rodea flies in an arc on his way to the target, and whatever button isn’t your launcher serves as your attack function. You can rotate the view around Rodea by moving the reticule to the side of the screen, and the directional pad controls movement. The controls work well, though I do wish the camera would move a little faster – it takes about 10-15 seconds to do a full 360, for instance.
The control changes aren’t the only thing that differs from the modern console versions, however. There are extra power-up items strewn about the flight path, though I didn’t notice them having an effect in limited testing. Your ranged weapons are aimed in the same fashion as flight, and instead of open areas in the map for secrets, there are doors that require a certain number of Gravitrons – the game’s equivalent to coins – to access. Through the doors lie 2D-perspective bonus areas in which you grab more Gravitrons and medals. There is still some room for light exploration in the early stages, but the game is more focused on the straight-ahead path and honestly, is better for it.
Playing the Wii and Wii U versions back to back was an interesting graphical experience, especially since it was on the same HD television. It really cements what even a basic HD pass looks like when the Wii U version has everything looking crisper. Surprisingly though, the Wii version wasn’t subject to much slowdown as compared to the Wii U version and especially the 3DS one. The graphics look a bit muddy on the Wii copy, but the older console version handles draw distance better as well – things stand out more in the distance. The music sounded similar, and the same voice work is used in all three versions (for better or worse).
NIS America’s attention to detail with the physical copies has to be applauded, too: the first printing of the game comes with two instruction manuals and a reversible cover that has the Wii U badging and art on the front, with the Wii version on the reverse. Although I don’t know of any Wii games that had blue cases, I was able to make the game look like a Wii game by swapping the art into the white case for The Legend of Kay HD and it’s completely indistinguishable from any other Wii game that doesn’t involve crossbows.
I’m not far enough into the game to fully review it, but the Wii game is definitely the best part of the Rodea project. If it had come out as it could have in 2011 or even 2012, it might have been something on the level of Pandora’s Tower – a cult classic game for the Wii that had the misfortune of coming out after the HD transition was complete. It may be worth picking up the full package to have that historical curiosity, since I don’t think NISA is going to be able to put this on the eShop any time soon.