These games used to be a dime a dozen, but Rodland had a few interesting gameplay elements that set it apart from the crowd.
Its significant bits:
- Instead of jumping, the player traverses the maps with the use of a magical ladder. The ladder can be deployed at any time, although the player possesses only one of these. If a ladder is summoned, it’s simply teleported from its previous location to where the player is currently standing. The ladder is also strictly vertical, but it can be used to reach platforms above and below the player character.
- The game’s enemies can also utilize the player’s ladder, which the player can exploit to funnel and box them in.
- The main weapon in the game is a magical rod that fires a short burst of energy. This beam can pop balloons and hurt bosses, but it’s generally used to entangle enemies. Once an enemy is entangled, the player can lift it over his head and repeatedly hurl it left and right, smashing it into the ground. It’s actually a little brutal, and somewhat reminiscent of Kirby’s Throw in Kirby’s Adventure where the little puffball can viciously suplex an enemy.
- Performing the rod slam less than three times simply stuns an enemy, while a full three hits will burst it and leave behind some sort of a powerup or collectible, e.g., a fruity points-bonus, a rocket that flies horizontally away from the direction it was touched, four balls that frantically bounce around the level, etc.
- While performing the rod-slam, the player is pretty much invincible. Any enemies that get close will inevitably get smashed by their entangled brethren. When this happens, they’ll get pushed away and go into a stunned mode.
- The game’s various console conversions slightly tweaked the rod slam mechanic. In the arcade version, if the player is standing on the edge of a platform and slams an enemy into empty air, his foe will simply drop down. In the console version(s), though, this will actually kill the enemy.
- Once all the enemies are defeated, the player has a limited amount of time to collect leftover items before the game automatically moves on to the next stage.
- The game’s bosses are just as cute and non-threatening as the regular enemies — there’s a grinning whale that spurts water from its blowhole, and a giant elephant that flies around by flapping its ears a la Dumbo (although he’s actually suspended from the ceiling by two small chains). Even the somewhat imposing last boss throws up a tiny white flag once he’s defeated.
As a side note, Rodland is a great fit for limited platforms such as cellphones. The controls are basic, the movement of the player and the enemies is quite slow, there’s no processor intensive graphical effects (scrolling parallax, gradients, transparencies, etc.), and, most importantly, it contains some very simple and approachable gameplay elements.