Last month we posted news that DotEmu would soon be bringing retro classic Rod Land: A Fairy Tale [link] to the App Store as the fifth game in their Jaleco series. The game has just been released and we've got a closer look to share.
Originally released to the arcade in 1990, Rod Land is a colorful platformer that challenges you to help a fairy rescue her mother who has been trapped in a tower by an evil force that's building a mobile fortress with which to wreak havoc upon the land. Gameplay involves clearing each screen of baddies using your magic wand (or rod), collecting bonus items along the way for points. Your wand captures an enemy in a magic field that merely stuns them if released, or can be used to destroy them by bashing them to and fro against the ground, resulting in a power-up that can be used against other enemies. You also have the ability to place one ladder (only one at any time) on the platforms to help access different areas. A level is complete when all enemies have been wiped out, but you'll want to collect every bonus item along the way, in order to get the max three-star rating for any level.
As mentioned in our earlier preview, I had no experience with the original Rod Land two decades ago, so I grabbed the Amiga version and spent some time with it -- several hours, it turned into... The game is a whole lot of fun and really draws you in. The various arrangements of the platforms and enemies roaming about them makes for some challenging timing puzzles that have you spending quite some time perfecting each level in order to get those three stars, which is an added feature of the iOS version. Another difference between the arcade and Amiga versions and the iOS release is the use of a virtual D-pad with two action buttons, which is, of course, never as nice as a physical stick, but at least the control positions can be adjusted. Support for the iCade / iControlPad would be a nice update addition.
Rod Land features 60 levels in all, with three different game endings. There is a Story mode which is progressive play, unlocking level after level, while a Survival mode gives you just five lives and straight play from beginning to end. Game Center, OpenFeint, and Facebook are integrated, with scoreboards and trophies to unlock along the way.
Rod Land for iOS is a universal application (for iPod and iPhone) and runs the original arcade game under modified emulation and is localized in English, French, Italian, German and Spanish. It's the fifth release in what will ultimately be the 17-game Jaleco series of arcade conversions. The game follows Avenging Spirit [link], Earth Defense Force [link], 64th Street: A Detective Story [link] and P-47: The Phantom Fighter [link] into the App Store (and in celebration of its release, the existing Jaleco titles are on sale for $0.99).
See the arcade version of Rod Land in action:
While the lovely pixel art graphics and bouncy '90s soundtrack are retro, and no mistake, the unique platform gameplay is anything but dusty and faded and should appeal to the typical platform gamer, not just those dreamy-eyed sorts longing for yesteryear. The only real negative to speak of is the virtual D-pad, which is hard to get around in retro titles such as this, but it's been implemented here as well as anywhere. Earlier versions of Rod Land were well reviewed and the game has gathered a dedicated following, and with good reason. I urge readers to have a look at this enjoyable title.
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