Reviews Archive
             
  Rodland  
   
 
 
 
  Graphics  
             
  C64
 
  Spectrum
 
  NES
 
 
 
  Amstrad
 
             
  Detail  
 

C64 - Firstly, unfortunately there's no background here at all, just pure black, which is a shame as the original arcade version had fantastic, colourful backgrounds.

The detail level isn't massively high (notice the floor doesn't really have much in the way of shading or textures), and the overall resolution is lower than that of the Spectrum, and NES versions, but a phenomenal job has been done on all of the sprites, even without using a lot of pixels they manage to look fairly detailed, and retain an awful lot of charm, I feel that they are probably the best looking sprites out of all the versions simply due to how well they are drawn.

Lastly, another point worth noting is that the boss enemies which are also very well drawn, are very impressively sized, are well coloured, and move around the screen very smoothly.

Spectrum - Like the C64 version this also has no background, the level of detail is certainly higher here though, as its in higher resolution, and unlike the C64 port the floor is textured and the ladders and plants look less blocky.

The sprites here look nice, being quite accurate recreations of the arcade game's, they're a little more detailed here than in the C64 game, but I feel aren't quite as charming.

NES - There's a background in this instance which in theory would be great, but unfortunately for the most part what we have here is mono blue sky with haphazardly placed, badly drawn clouds for the early levels, and an ugly grey brickwork for much of the later levels, still, I guess an ugly background is better than nothing.

The sprites here are surprisingly blocky and on top of that are all very badly drawn, Rit herself looks very little like the sprite/fairy she's supposed to be, and comes across looking more like a mixture of a little girl and an alien. None of the enemy sprites look any better either, they all a bit squashed.

The bosses are still pretty good, they're maybe not as big and impressive as those on the C64 version, but are still a good size. The whale boss (which has completely different attacks in this version and has you fighting it underwater) for some reason has it's bottom half cut off while it's charging at you, which is a little shoddy if you ask me.

This version is the only one to have noticeable sprite flicker.

Amstrad - This version also has a background, and surprisingly I'd have to say that the Amstrad version's background wins out over the NES version in detail, it has more elements to it (such as the tower sections), as well as better drawn clouds that are more realistically placed, and there's also wood textures for the flooring which look pretty good.

Apart from the background the overall graphics are a bit blocky and low resolution though. The sprites, whilst blocky are fairly well drawn, and so don't come across too badly.

 
   
  Winner Is: Spectrum  
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  Colour  
 

C64 - Overall it's a bit mixed, as mentioned before there's no background at all, and the flooring colour ranges from alright to a bit iffy, but the sprites are really well coloured for the most part and look really good.

Spectrum - This version is monochrome

NES - The graphics are adequately coloured, just the fact that there's any realistic background colour at all probably puts it past the other versions in this area to be honest.

Amstrad - A lot of colour, overall the colour use is alright but I feel that some of the colour choices are a little ill fitting.

 
   
  Winner Is: NES  
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  Animation  
 

C64 - Not bad but nothing amazing, it does the job. One nice little element worth mentioning is that you can see the character wink at you at the end of each stage (just like in the arcade).

Spectrum - There's a nice amount of frames that are well drawn.

NES - The animation is a little bit poor here to be honest, especially the swinging animation which looks quite rigid in motion, its not so bad that it's too noticeable though fortunately.

Amstrad - It's slow and simple but it just about does the trick.

 
   
  Winner Is: Draw between C64 and Spectrum  
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  Scrolling  
  This is a single screen game and so has no scrolling  
   
  Winner Is: Draw  
 
 
  Sound  
     
  Music  
 

C64 - No in-game music, the menu and story screens have really excellent high quality music though.

Spectrum - No in-game music, the menu and story screens have some of the best music I've ever heard for the Spectrum, the quality is very high and the style of the songs fits the Spectrum's sound chip well.

NES - This is the only version with in-game music, the music doesn't seem to be taken from the original arcade game so must be original compositions.

I would say that these new tunes range from average to bad, but seeing as the NES version is the only version with in-game music I guess it wins this section by default.

Amstrad - Unfortunately, as with the other computer versions there's also no in-game music in this version either, but as before the rest of the game has a very nice quality soundtrack.

 
   
  Winner Is: NES  
  -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------  
  Sound FX  
 

C64 - Good sound effects, definitely above average.

Spectrum - Very impressive sound effects.

NES - The sound effects are pretty poor, I'd put them in the below average bracket.

Amstrad - Not that great, they sound a bit crude.

 
   
  Winner Is: Spectrum  
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Gameplay

Rodland plays similarly to Bubble Bobble, it's basically a single screen game where you have to clear each stage of enemies to move on. Instead of using bubbles it has you grabbing the enemies with rods and then smacking them back and forth (hopefully catching multiple enemies in the way). The game doesn't actually let you jump, but gives you the ability to build ladders wherever you want instead.

C64 - The Commodore version plays extremely well, it's a very good speed and the difficulty curve is quite well judged.

There are a few differences to the arcade original here though, your ladders can now be used to pick up flowers, and swinging enemies into each other kills them much faster as you don't let one of them go when they impact. I've thought about this for a while and feel that both these differences have a positive effect on the gameplay, granted they make the game a little easier but I do feel that collecting all the flowers is now less tedious and more tactics based than before, and due to the faster impact kills there's now less instances of frustrating deaths.

Some of the less positive (though relatively minor) changes here are that the enemies are not placed the same way as in the original (a level of the arcade which maybe only had sharks originally may well on the C64 version have the bee enemy instead for instance) this does have an effect on gameplay as each enemy type has different abilities to each other. Outside of the enemy placings you also no longer receive items during boss fights (and occasionally can't use ladders either) and you no longer stun enemies when you hit them with the tip of your weapon.

Spectrum - The gameplay in this version is actually the most accurate to the arcade out of them all, at first I thought there may have been levels missing but after a thorough check I've found that the levels at least match up to those in the Commodore version, the only difference is the placings of the boss battles which happen at different times to the other versions (the arcade original actually changed it's boss appearances around based on how well you're doing so the Spectrum version isn't any less accurate in this fashion to the others).

Like the Commodore version this also plays very well, it gives your weapon much more reach than the other versions (like in the arcade), you can use items during boss fights, and ladders during the whale boss, hitting enemies from too far away stuns them instead of grabbing (whilst more accurate this can be annoying), slamming them into each other kills one and bounces the other, and ladders do not collect flowers. One of the more noteworthy accuracies here is that the enemies are in the same positions as they were in the arcade.

Where it comes to inaccuracies I did notice was that the enemies no longer timed out and became more dangerous, this wasn't really much of a common occurrence in the arcade version though as it would usually give you more than enough time anyway. There's also some slowdown here but thankfully its relatively rare, and only really happens when you use the weapon items whilst there's a lot going on on-screen.

NES - Unfortunately this version's gameplay is plagued by many damaging inaccuracies. Firstly your weapon's reach in this version is very short, which makes swinging enemies into each other a little bit more of a problem here than usual, and even worse they no longer actually kill each other when slammed together (the one in the way is just pushed back instead of killed). Also, If an enemy gets slammed into an area where there's no ground it disengages and drops, this may be more realistic to reality but is not true to the arcade and is very annoying as it means that you can't grab an enemy if you're standing at the edge of a platform as you'll always end up swinging them off the edge and dropping them, it also means that you can no longer grab enemies in mid air as they fall.

Secondly, many of the items here are now underpowered in comparison to the other versions, the bounce weapon for example no longer travels through the platforms (they hit them and then rebound making them next to useless on many of the levels), and the bomb explosion is now about 1/3rd the size it's supposed to be.

Like the C64 version Ladders here can also be used to collect flowers and the enemies are also placed wrongly (suspiciously they're placed wrongly in pretty much the same way as they were in the C64 port, which, added to the fact that the backgrounds and music are nothing like the arcade's makes me worry that the earlier C64 port was actually the frame of reference for the programmer and not the arcade version).

Lastly (and possibly most importantly) the boss battles have all been changed, some in only a minor fashion, (the crocodiles for instance now move independently so you have to move up and down more to pursue them, which is a little bit more of a pain in the arse), and others in a major fashion (the whale fight now takes place underwater, and has it charging at you instead of rising from the background, the Elephant boss has a platforming section tacked on).

Apart from all of the inaccuracies this version's pacing is notably worse, and descends into tedium faster.

Amstrad - Easily the worst of the bunch, and by no small measure. This version is just too slow to be fun as it moves at maybe half the speed of the other versions. Even more unfortunate is the fact that all the boss battles seem to be completely absent (I reached level 21 and had still yet to see any at all).

Winner is: C64
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Presentation

C64 - Has the part of the original intro with your mother being kidnapped.

Spectrum - Unlike the other ports the Spectrum version has the full intro (it includes the section with the village elder giving you some magic boots), and has more of the between levels screens ("you are entering the tower" etc)

NES - This has an even more cut down intro of your mum being kidnapped than the C64 version.

Amstrad - Nothing notable

Winner is: Spectrum
 
  Conclusion  
 

Gameplay is always the most important thing for me so immediately we can remove both the Amstrad and NES versions from the equation, the Amstrad version is simply too slow and the NES version is missing a large amount of the gameplay aspects that actually made the game good in the first place, the background and in-game music are also so underwhelming that they do little to offset the problems with the gameplay.

The Spectrum version has really fantastic pixel art and has obviously been lavished with attention and hard work by it's programmers as they really have taken the presentation and graphics are far as could possibly be expected, which makes it sad that the lack of colour works against it so much to still put it's graphics at an overall disadvantage to the modestly coloured Commodore version. I do feel that the C64 version also has the best sprites out of every version as they simply have a lot more charm. Finally the additions to the C64's gameplay (ladder pick up ability, faster enemy impacts) and lack of any notable gameplay disadvantages make it play slightly better than the Spectrum version.

 
  Overall winner is: C64  
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