Review: King Oddball
King Oddball is tired of humans, and he has decided to do something about it. Grabbing his trusty arsenal of rocks, this floating rock head of unknown origin is taking the fight to his enemy. This is the premise behind 10tons Ltd’s bizare physics puzzle game King Oddball, a mobile game now ported to the PS4 and Vita. With over 120 levels and other secrets, King Oddball definitely brings a lot to the table, but does this game stand out enough it what is becoming a crowded genre to warrant your money and time?
30 Second Review
+ Great combination of challenge and reward
+ Feels more strategic than lucky
+ Lots of levels and challenges to keep gamers coming back
+ Bite sized levels great for gamers strapped for time to play
+ Cross buy (Buy on PS4/Vita, get other version free)
– Can get a little repetitive
– Discovering secret level is not intuitive
Simple yet deep gameplay
In King Oddball, you control the title character, who uses his long tounge to latch onto his arsenal of rocks and fling at his enemies. Gameplay is simple; all you do is touch the X button or, if playing on the Vita (the system on which I played the game), tap the front touchscreen to release the rock. You have to time the release of the rock to take out enemies, whether those enemies are tanks, troops or helicopters.
This simple gameplay mechanic leads to a much deeper strategy that you might think. You only have three rocks at your disposal, and you must take out all the enemies to beat each level. The problem is there are often more enemies than rocks, so you have to take into consideration how the rocks will roll, bounce and affect the surrounding environment. As you may expect, a rock that hits a tank will react in a completely different manner than one that hits a soldier. Add that to that exploding crates, walls of various sturdiness and forcefields that deflect the first hit by your rock, and you have a lot to consider before releasing the king’s wrath.
Fortunately, you have a few advantages on your side. If you can take out three enemies with one rock, you get a bonus rock to throw, and you get two if you can take out six. Also, if a rock you toss manages to bounce back and hit the king, you get to toss it again, making it essentially a free toss. You have to be careful with this, however, as hitting the king in just the wrong place with a rebounding rock can kill him.
The King is Angry, but he’s no Bird
The first thing many gamers are going to think when they look at King Oddball is it is another Angry Birds knock-off. After all, it’s a physics puzzle game where you are flinging things at your enemies. For those who would draw those comparisons, let me put your mind at ease: this is not Angry Birds. The game feels much more strategic that the mobile phenomenon, forcing you to consider not only when you want to let go of your rocks but what order you want to try and take out enemies.
One level in particular helps illustrate the difference between these two games. I was facing a descending row of tanks, and try as I might, there was no way I was going to be able to release my rock in such a way to hit the one on the top-right hand side of the screen. I had to figure a way for one of my rocks to ricochet off one of the other tanks to reach it. Challenges like this are commonplace in King Oddball, and though there will almost always be an element of luck in a game like this, I generally felt like I made my own luck by taking strategy into account with each rock release.
King Oddball has a ton of levels: over 120 in all. The developers did not stop there, however. 10ton has added three specific challenge areas you unlock as you clear the map of enemies:
- Boom Challenge: Instead or throwing rocks, you are throwing grenades that explode when they settle. While this may sound easy, you are faced with a lot more obstacles between you and your prey in this mode, making strategic planning a must.
- One Rock Challenge: You must destroy all enemies on the level using just one rock. You do still get the extra rocks from taking out multiple enemies or reflecting back to hit the king, but you only start with one. This challenge really helps you learn the physics behind the game if you plan on beating all the levels.
- Hall of Diamonds: You beat all the levels? Great! How about beating them without using all your rocks? In Hall of Diamonds, you replay the levels, and this time, defeating all the enemies is not enough; you must do so without using all the rocks at your disposal. I am not ashamed to admit this is the one challenge I have yet to complete.
As if all of this was not enough, 10ton has included a Secret Mustache World that is only unlockable if you find all the mustaches hidden throughout the game. In this world, you will face all new challenges.
King Oddball has a couple of minor issues. It can feel a little repetitive, especially when playing through the Hall of Diamonds challenge. Also, finding the mustaches you need to access the secret world is not exactly intuitive; they are hidden in various menus and even the credits of the game. I would recommend looking up a guide to find them.
A must for physics puzzle fans
I cannot recommend King Oddball enough for fans of this genre. There is a depth to the game that is hidden behind its simple mechanics, and the inclusion of the challenge levels and secret world will keep you coming back for more. On top of that, the game is only $6.99. It is also cross buy, meaning you get both a PS4 and Vita copy. Trust me when I say you will easily find enough gameplay in this title to justify that price.
There are a lot of physics based puzzle games out there. Despite the overcrowding of the genre, this game contains more than enough challenge and charm to stand out. King Oddball gets a 9 out of 10.
By the way, the game is available on mobile devices. If you do not have the ability to play it on PS4 or Vita, the mobile version is only $2.99 on iOS and FREE (add supported) on Android.