Release Date: October 30, 2017
Platforms: Nintendo Switch (eShop), PC (Steam), Playstation 4 (Playstation Store), Xbox One (Microsoft Store)
Price: $4.99 USD
Indie developer 10tons is on a roll and continues to release Switch titles, with the latest King Oddball making it’s way over. King Oddball is a physics based puzzle game that is pretty small game compared to what’s previously come out, and resembles more of a mobile game compared to their usual console fledged games. That being said, it’s a pretty enjoyable game, even if it’s a more casual experience.
First off though, who is King Oddball? Well, it’s hard to say. He’s a floating rock with a face and a brown to boot. He hangs up in the sky and his intent seems to be to destroy the world. As is evident by his constant need to hail rocks and boulders down onto what appears to be the army. Not sure what grudge these two sides have to settle, but it’s not important in the big picture.
King Oddball is best described as something like Angry Birds. You play from stage to stage and your goal is to destory all enemies on screen. These come in the forms of stationary tanks, helicopters and soldiers that do not attack you. King Oddball, who floats graciously at the top of the screen, grabs a rock with his tongue, which is done automatically. His tongue then sways back and forth, and you simply need to release the rock in order to destroy the targets on screen. This is done by simply pressing A or even just touching anywhere on the screen.
As you launch your projectile, it will destroy most things in it’s path. Enemies like tanks can take a couple of hits to destroy depending on the speed and trajectory of the rock. Other enemies like soldiers are pretty much guaranteed a one hit kill. The environment also plays a crucial role, as there are brick blocks and structure that are destructible. Some items are more fragile than others and strategies can revolve around destroying a structure with several enemies on it. What’s more fun is trying to bounce your rock of tanks to hit enemies up to, or better yet explosive crates.
The core idea of King Oddball is pretty simple and executed pretty much flawlessly. There is almost no learning curve to the game making it extremely easy to just jump into and get lost taking on all the stages, which there are quite a few of. It’s a nice fit for those just looking for something leisurely to play every now and then, or in between other major releases.
It may not be the deepest game out there, but 10tons did good to include several modes within the core game. You progress through the games map, which is layed out like a grid infront of you. You move from square to square taking on each of the stages, or in some cases, stumbled upon a diamond shaped icon, or a grenade.. These sections of the map open up a few more gameplay modes, such as being able to complete a level with limited attempts, or using grenades as your projectiles. It helps open up the game a bit more from just your standard single player affair.
King Oddbal has a pretty pleasing visual aesthetic. Everything looks like it’s drawn in with coloured pencil and gives off a slight paper kind of look. It’s all very vibrant to and the stages occasionally feature some different back grounds to give off some variety. It’s a pretty charming game to look at. It all runs pretty smooth and the animations although basic, flow very nicely and seeing parts of the stages along with the enemies get destroyed is pretty pleasing. King Oddball himself occasionally exhibits some funny facial expressions, although simplistic, can appear pretty cheesy and somewhat amusing.
There’s not much to say in the audio department. Mostly because sound effects are pretty standard, and there seems to be only one song that plays throughout the entire duration of the game. The song is kind of catchy actually, and implores you get into your thinking mode. My wife made a comment and said it sounds like something out of Mario. Despite there only being one song available, the game uses silence to it’s advantage. As you launch your last projectile, the music stops until it finishes moving. It adds a nice tension for the stage attempts that go down to the wire.
Even though King Oddball is an easy game to pick up and learn, it can be pretty challenging at times. The game throws all sorts of enemy placements at you. Some can be easy where blowing up a couple of explosive crates gets the job done, while others require you to have your rock bounce of enemies to take out multiple targets. For stages like this, I had to retry them several times, but thankfully King Oddball gets you back into the action very quickly. What also helps is the quick reset button that lets you start the stage again by simply pressing Y, or hitting the icon at the top right of the screen. If your first shot wasn’t what you hoped, you can quickly restart at this point and try again. That being said, being able to complete some of the tougher stages did give me some satisfaction and occasionally put a smile on my face.
There’s quite a bit to do in King Oddball when you look at it’s main single player mode along with the extra modes found within the map. Stages don’t normally earn you ratings, but the extra modes give you a chance to strive for such things. Along with it’s other modes like using grenades to take out enemies, there’s a decent amount of variety within this package. The main game mode on it’s own has a decent amount of stages to take on that should keep most people busy for a while.
King Oddball is a pretty good game for it’s price. It has some pretty charming visuals and even though it’s limited, a pretty catchy song to boot. It’s extremely easy to pick up and learn, but at times, some of it’s stages can be pretty challenging and take quite a few attempts to get through. Thankfully, I never found it got frustrating, and always lead to satisfaction once I was able to get through these tougher segments. It is catered for the casual crowd however, so it’s not for everyone, as some can consider it a very shallow experience. Otherwise, for it’s price point, and that it’s considered a casual affair, it has a decent amount of stages to take on and modes to try that can keep you busy for several hours. If you are looking for something cheap and small to play occasionally, or even in between bigger games, King Oddball might fit your bill.
Disclaimer: This review was done using a Nintendo Switch copy of King Oddball provided by the games publisher/developer, 10tons. Please be assured that this did not affect my opinion of the game, and that my criticisms are an honest and true representation of my thoughts on the game.