King Oddball is a strange little number from mobile developers 10tons, the guys and gals behind Sparkle (a better-than-average ball shooting puzzler that we reviewed last month). It’s a single-button game that appears to take place during the apocalypse, as a giant entity in the sky is laying waste to various parts of the world by swinging huge boulders stuck to its tongue. No, really.
You play said entity, the titular King Oddball, and your job is to defeat the military presence in each level. This is achieved by hurling rocks at tanks, helicopters, soldiers, etc, in order to make them explode. The physics are actually pretty good, and there’s an air of Angry Birds style trick-shotting to bounce the boulders around the level or, for instance, cause choppers to fall on tanks.
If you can hit yourself with a rebound you’ll get another shot, and now and then something quirky will happen, like when Oddball’s swinging tongue picks up the Pause Game icon instead of a boulder. There’s not much more to it than that, really. Levels get more and more complicated and make less and less sense (why and how do the military position their tanks atop vertical columns with no way up or down?) as you go on, but like all physics-based games of its ilk, it goes through bouts of being maddeningly addictive.
It’s nothing to get excited about graphically. Environments are bland, nothing really moves except Oddball’s tongue and the things you’ve hit with boulders, and there’s not a great deal of personality. The strange grain effect over the levels is distracting and pointless. The devs may have been attempting to evoke some kind of B-movie atmosphere, but it’s utterly flat. The music is also lacklustre, bereft of the elegant charm of Sparkle’s slightly over-achieving score.
You move between levels on a large square grid comprised of smaller squares. Once all the levels in a smaller square are complete, you’re allowed to move on to the next one. Every now and then something will pop up that you can slide onto, such as a stats screen or a diamond that acts as a portal so you can reply previous levels. There are also challenge stages and such to increase the longevity and add variety.
VERDICT: King Oddball is a fairly large package and, although it certainly is odd, it doesn’t do enough to be truly interesting, and despite a lot of levels and some decent physics, it’s not particularly captivating.
DECENT. A 6/10 indicates that, while this game could be much better, it still has a fair amount to offer the player. It might be an interesting title sabotaged by its own ambition, or a game denied greater praise by some questionable design choices. Don’t avoid it outright, but approach it with caution.
Review code provided by publisher.