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King Oddball Review

by Dean James

The ever growing mobile game market has seen the release of many gaming titans like Angry Birds and Candy Crush, but there are also plenty of lesser known success stories. Many times these are similar to other games and get overlooked, but King Oddball managed to overcome this with a release on PlayStation platforms back in 2014. Nearly two and a half years later, King Oddball has now set its sights on yet another platform with a release on Xbox One.

King Oddball takes a lot of cues from the aforementioned Angry Birds, though this time you are controlling the bad guy instead. From the very start, the game introduces the odd creature that the game is named after, King Oddball, a moon like figure that remains elevated in the sky. The premise is very simple, as the only story the game gives is “King Oddball ends the world,” which you are set out to do.

The actual destroying of the world is not quite as exciting as it sounds though, with everything being done through the throwing of boulders. Each of the regular levels give you three boulders that you must use to destroy each of the opposing forces. These start off simply being tanks that take either a solid hit or maybe a couple taps to destroy, along with the introduction of helicopters and these gremlin looking soldiers later.

King-Oddball-1

Tossing of the boulders is done with a mix of a pendulum like motion from Oddball’s tongue. When it’s at the point in the motion you want him to let go, you just press the button and the boulder will go that way. That means you can really put some power behind some throws, while others you can literally just drop in mid-air with no force at all.

Physics mean everything in King Oddball, which is what really sets it apart from other games in the genre. While the boulders do have a lot of force that can destroy platforms that are in the way, hitting a tank or helicopter will cause them to bounce with a good bit of power. What works well here is that depending on what angle you hit the enemy, the boulder will deflect off in a certain way. However, the problem is that there are times where it will seem like the same angle will provide different results, but it works well enough to not get in the way too often.

While this can be a little finicky at times, a lot of the fun is the game’s ricocheting element. The different enemy types feature a different level of bounce back, which changes even more then they add shields around them as well. The tanks and helicopters feature a deflection that can be used to hit between enemies more easily, while the shields cause the boulders to shoot off at much higher speeds.

King-Oddball-3

Another level of strategy also comes as a reflect of these deflections, as you can earn extra boulders to use as well. By causing a boulder to deflect back and hit Oddball, you can get an extra one. The more common one though is hitting three or more enemies with one boulder, which also provides you with another extra one. This is why working on timing and getting used to the physics is vital to increase your boulder count on the hardest of levels.

Physics mean everything in King Oddball

The difficulty level found in King Oddball is really varying at times, with some levels being incredibly easy to finish in only a few tries at most and others being a real grind. The latter require more trial and error than anything, which really may start to frustrate you before long. Something that really does help alleviate this though is the game’s level select structure.

King Oddball features a grid based map of nine grids that each have 16 squares within them. After beating the first level, the squares branch out and allow you to have more options in which to choose from, as you can leave an annoying stage and come back later. On top of the regular stages, a number of the grids have squares with special areas, including the list of achievements, statistics, the ending credits eventually, as well as a few alternative game types.

King-Oddball-2

These alternative game type spaces take you to other “worlds” and let you play new levels that are set up with some sort of different mechanic. The Hall of Diamonds gives you two boulders and a diamond, with you needing to beat the levels with only the two boulders to grab the diamond. There are 131 of these available, which is very impressive. On the other hand, the Boom Challenge, the One Rock Challenge, and the Extra Quest offer much fewer levels. The Boom Challenge is particularly fun, as you get grenades to toss that can destroy enemies directly or with their blast knocking down obstacles nearby. Having other game options like this does help to provide a lot more variety to the game, though the level design still leaves something to be desired after awhile.

The Verdict

Like many mobile rooted games, King Oddball features a very simple premise that is easy to pick up, though it can get repetitive pretty quickly. The game’s physics work well enough most of the time and can be a good time waster, but a real lack of level variety holds King Oddball back from being a really good game.

"meh"
meh

King Oddball

  • Available On: Xbox One, PS4, PS3, PC
  • Published By: 10 Tons Ltd
  • Developed By: 10 Tons Ltd
  • Genre: Puzzle
  • US Release Date: September 9th, 2016
  • Reviewed On: Xbox One
  • Quote: "Like many mobile rooted games, King Oddball features a very simple premise that is easy to pick up, but a real lack of level variety holds it back from being a really good game."
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The Good

  • solid physics
  • Deflection strategies

The Bad

  • Lacking in level design
  • Trial and error stages
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