The Future Was 8 Bit (TFW8B) has long had a strong reputation for thinking outside of the norm when it comes to supporting the vintage computer community. Its innovative range of carts and replacement products for 8-bit personal computers have proven to be popular with enthusiasts. So when TFW8B have a go at releasing a software title, such as RodMan, you can bet there going to do it in their own unique style.
RodMan is a multi-format game available from TFW8B in a special triple cassette edition. That’s right, all eight formats of the game (Amstrad CPC, Atari 8bit, C16, C64, Vic-20, MSX, Oric, and ZX Spectrum) are available under the one release.
Developed by Mika ‘Misfit’ Keranen, RodMan is a wonderful re-imaging of the classic Pac-Man. Not only do you go around maze like screens, collecting round pills while avoiding enemy characters but you can also collect diamond shaped bombs that can be used to blow up and eliminate the bad guys, in the same way as you do in Bomberman. But beware, the bombs can also kill RodMan so you better make sure he is out of range before they detonate.
To further differentiate itself, RodMan’s levels take place across 3 screens, which is supposed to depict a house with a garden and basement, and completing a level requires the pills to be collected from all 3 screens.
As part of this review, I was able to play through 7 out of the 8 versions of RodMan with all formats looking and sounding as expecting for their respective formats. The Amstrad CPC features the brightest visuals, the ZX Spectrum has the most colourful graphics, the C16 and C64 versions have strong sound effects while the Vic-20 features its characteristic looking squashed characters that is probably the most charming of all versions. Overall,I was very pleased with the definition of characters on display, with each screen immediately distinguishable from each other. All of these versions also featured good sound effects, however, I thought the ZX Spectrum sound was a little low.
The Atari 8-bit format features two versions – multi-colour and high resolution. The multi-colour format does suffer from a lack of graphical definition and I found its somewhat murky was causing a little bit of eye strain during longer game play sessions. The Hi-Res version, as expected, looks a lot sharper, however, this comes at the cost of only having two colours on screen.
The Oric version suffers from limited graphic capabilities. Not only does the RodMan character share the same colour as the enemies and pills but the three screens also share the same colour palette.
I was not able to play the MSX version of RodMan, however, viewing the footage from TFW8B promotional video it looks quite good.
Irrespective of which of the versions you are interested, I am pleased to say that all formats played very well. RodMan zips around the screen at good speed, making tight turns as needed and the enemy characters all appear to have their own distinct behavior patterns. The version that you will like best will really get down to your own personal preference on how you like your games to look and feel. For me, I enjoyed playing the Commodore 16 version the most as it has a good blend of graphical colours, definition and there is something about its sound effects that I thought suited RodMan the best.
Is there anything that let’s RodMan down? Well, the first and most obvious is that the game is limited to just 3 levels. So when you factor in that each level contains 3 screens, the whole game world is only 9 screens. Strong arcade gamers are likely to complete the game quickly.
The other thing that could be improved is the collision detection. It feels like that it could be tighten a little as on many occasions I got frustrated losing a life when it looked like I had just done enough to avoid the enemy.
Putting these things aside, I cannot deny that I thoroughly enjoyed playing through all the various iterations of RodMan. The quality of game play on offer became evident when I completed an 8 hour session across all the formats without getting bored.
The multi-format release of RodMan is a great idea by TFW8B and makes it somewhat unique for collectors. When you consider the quality of game on offer then I think you cannot go too far wrong with picking up your copy of the triple cassette edition.
Check out the video show case of RodMan in the link below to see more of the game.
The special triple cassette edition of RodMan can be purchased from TFW8B website.
RodMan is a rewarding gaming experience with its blending of Pac-Man style gaming with Bomberman type strategy. Despite its limited number of levels, the game offers great arcade action that is nicely presented across most formats.
Retro gaming journalist promoting NEW C64, Amiga, Amstrad CPC & ZX Spectrum games. Runs the Retro Gamer Nation YouTube channel and is a contributor to RVG and Vintage is the New Old blog sites, Komoda & Amiga Plus magazine and various other publications.