GAME NAME: King Oddball
PLATFORM(S): PlayStation 3
RELEASE DATE(S): February 3rd, 2015
King Oddball seeks to end the world in this apocalyptic puzzle game created by 10tons Ltd. King Oddball is odd for sure. A floating round head with a rock like helmet and a tiny crown teetered precariously atop his head, he sticks out his freakishly long tongue and uses it like a pendulum, releasing rocks to destroy the human army in their attempts to stop him. With one button gameplay this game is great for kids while still managing to challenge adults.
At first glance, King Oddball looks like an Angry Birds spin off but its a purely superficial comparison. This game requires a technical approach rather than simply launching objects into each other. The x button releases the boulders dangling from his tongue. Using the laws of physics, mostly inertia and mass, you’re given three boulders and have to consider the weight and direction of the projectile upon release to target tanks, helicopters, army men, exploding blocks, brick blocks and lighter sand blocks. There’s also large bounce pads, force fields and immovable rocks that you can use to your advantage to redirect your boulders for maximum destruction. I particularly like how the boulders are weighted. They “feel” heavy and react differently based on the surfaces they hit. Getting a good backspin can help to keep your boulder on screen to hit objects behind the original target. You may find you need more than three boulders to clear a particular board. By bouncing a rock back into King Oddball you’ll get to use that boulder again and you are rewarded with an extra boulder by taking out three or more targets at a time. Some levels require a specific pattern of events to destroy all targets and clear the board while others are more random or even sheer luck to beat.
The main map opens up a little at a time as you progress with tanks marking the main quest levels. Other side missions are marked on the map as different icons. The first one to open up is the Hall of Diamonds. This side mission contains seven different backdrops, each consisting of anywhere from fifteen to twenty-nine levels each. The object is to collect 131 diamonds in all. You’re only given two boulders and a diamond. If you use the diamond to beat the level you are rewarded with a win but not given a diamond as reward so you’ll have to beat it again with one to spare if you want to collect them. I have two major gripes about this side mission. The first is that the levels are just repeats of the main levels and my second is that this mission is completely missing from the statistics page. How this wasn’t caught by developers is beyond me but that said, it’s still fun and I didn’t really mind calculating my own percentages to track my progression.
The second side mission is called The Boom Challenge. These boards are mostly unique to this mission and you’re given two grenades instead of the boulders. They take out anything they hit and then blow up causing a concentrated blast radius when they come to rest. There are twenty levels and this was by far my favorite side mission in the game.
The third and most difficult side mission is The One Rock Challenge. With sixteen levels and only one boulder per board it takes a lot of strategy and replay to beat them. To keep an eye on your trophies and track your progression there are separate icons on the main map for both.
In the statistics page I noticed there’s a spot for the Secret Level. By finding mustaches hidden in different places like menus, side mission boards, credits and failed level screens and pressing triangle, you’ll collect them and open the Stache of ‘Staches; a golden mustache icon located on the main map. Why mustaches? Apparently King Oddball likes to kick off the crown and go incognito in his mustached disguise while destroying his foes. The secret levels are neat and challenging and you can open more boards the same way as the main map although the flow of the map differs.
The music is severely limited in this game and is the same every level. Thankfully its low key and catchy so it doesn’t ruin the game although I would have liked a little more variety. Sitting through an hour of game play it got old. You do however have the option to lower and even turn off the music while still getting to hear all the sound effects and explosions. The sound effects are good and unique to hitting different objects and adds to the feel of the weight of what’s being hit. Also, if you hit King Oddball enough times during a level he’ll disappear and the first time you do it you get a trophy as a king slayer but they don’t tell you you’ll need to hit triangle to get back into game play so it was a little confusing when he just disappeared and I was still sitting there waiting like, “What happens now? Aren’t I helping the King…not stopping him? Why is this a trophy?” It isn’t conducive to the rest of the game but hey, it’s a trophy so I’m not complaining.
There were some basic flaws in the gameplay that I did not enjoy. While attempting to clear a board and failing miserably I was left waiting for the restart screen, unable to advance because some of the bricks were slightly swaying after being hit by my last boulder. The restart screen won’t appear while there’s movement. On a couple levels the music or sound effects would be missing or go out mid play. None of this was bad enough to curb my appetite for playing but just occasionally a little annoying. The graphics are nothing special but pleasing to the eyes. The backdrops have a soft watercolor appeal while the moveable forefront objects are cartoony with heavy black outlining and bolder color. The faces King Oddball make are hilarious and fun to watch although he doesn’t speak at all.
Okay, so the game isn’t perfect but it’s fun to play and really challenging. I liked the basic layout and gameplay and the sound effects are unique to each item hit giving them a sense of tactility. King Oddball is easy and fun for kids and a great way to introduce them to physics but challenging enough for anyone of any age or gaming experience. This game is a steal for 6.99 and won’t break the bank if you don’t enjoy it although I can just about guarantee you will. King Oddball is worth the download so go check it out.