Ever play the game in which you must try to move from one side of a room to the other without touching the floor? The learning curve is low, but the risks are perilously high. Cracked lamps, bloody noses and scattered potpourri await the over-ambitious player, he who leaps from the arm of a sofa, over the baffled cat, only to put a clumsy foot through the coffee table. There's little grace involved, on those slow, wet childhood afternoons. Nevertheless, everyone involved believes, beforehand, that they'll move with enviable feline refinement, from mantelpiece, to lampshade to victory.
Rodea: The Sky Soldier's development team clearly had a similar hopeful vision for this project, in which you play as a quick-footed robot boy, able to hover and glide through the air. As you tumble off walls and enemies, so you recharge the titular boy's ability to fly with each rebound, prolonging the airtime. As in the child's game, Rodea rewards the player who is able to make it from one end of its massive, barren landscapes to the other without setting foot on ground. As in the child's game, the reality is often far less graceful than the dream.
Few game designers have floundered following the medium's broad transition from 2D to 3D in the mid-1990s as much as Yuji Naka, creator of Sonic the Hedgehog. Where the 2D, sideways-on perspective provided Naka with useful limitations, allowing his characters to tear from ramps and blast through walls, the principles largely failed with the transfer to 3D. Not one of the 3D Sonic games has come close to replicating the slick thrills of Naka's earliest games. Rodea: The Sky Soldier is a similar failure to translate a 2D Naka classic -- Nights Into Dreams, the Saturn platform-less flying game - to the third dimension.