By: Matthew Striplen
So, this one’s kinda weird, as if you couldn’t tell from the screenshot. To get an idea of what King Oddball is all about, imagine Angry Birds, a few too many drugs, and tango music. Mix them together and you get the bizarre, yet addicting, physics game that can only be King Oddball.
King Oddball is a giant floating ball/head with a frighteningly long tongue, and he knows how to use it. In his quest to conquer the world, the King grabs and throws rocks at his foes. Honestly, that’s about the game’s entire plot.
After grabbing a rock, Oddball swings his tongue back and forth, and the player decides when to release said rock. This is the only player input for the entire game. Enemies take a handful of forms, such as tanks, helicopters, etc. The premise remains the same for the duration of the game: kill the baddies before running out of ammunition. Obstacles, like bricks and platforms, spice the game up a little.
A few gameplay quirks set this title apart from its spiritual predecessor, the most obvious of which is the King’s presence. The pendulum-like tongue allows for a more diverse trajectory, as well as cementing the game’s focus on timing rather than purely aim. Additionally, there are two ways to receive bonus rocks. Destroying three or more enemies in a single shot produces a golden rock, though the only difference is color. Also, if one rebounds into King Oddball himself, another golden rock is awarded. These skills shots often make the difference between failure and success.
King Oddball conquers the world methodically, one region at a time. Most regions house a mini-game, which is a variation on the main game. Some require the player to complete the stage with only one rock, while others give King Oddball grenades instead of rocks. King Oddball sports an impressive amount of levels, the first third of which pose little challenge, though the heat ramps up fast shortly thereafter.
On the whole, this game is simpler than Angry Birds, lacking the diversity of the latter. The lack of a scoring system reduces the perceived value of each level. If the player completes a stage with surplus projectiles, the game offers a more enthusiastic congratulation than usual, but this doesn’t carry any practical meaning.
While King Oddball‘s art style is undoubtedly of high quality, it left me wondering what was going on. Although it complements the kooky story, the lasting impression was that of oddity for oddity’s sake.
The soundtrack, while initially striking because of its unusual instrumentation and style, ends up becoming very repetitive. Fewer than five tracks present themselves for the entire game, all of which loop after only a few seconds.
At its core, King Oddball feels like an Angry Birds clone. Unfortunately, its few distinguishing qualities are not enough to give this title a life of its own. That being said, it’s far from bad, as its addictive level is similar to Angry Birds. If you’re looking for a casual game to kill time, King Oddball will provide some fun.