I do like it when publishers make it clear what game to expect from the off, and 10tons definitely did this with King Oddball – as this title is most certainly odd! That’s not to say it’s a bad game though; far from in fact, as I haven’t found myself this addicted to a game in a long time.
As a starting point, King Oddball has definitely has many similarities to the hugely popular Angry Birds, so if you liked that, then read on.
In this game you play the part of King Oddball, a giant head with a long tongue who is trying to take back his kingdom from an invading army. His only form of attack is a limited amount of boulders that he sticks to his tongue and then lobs at the enemy to try and destroy them. These foes are stationary and don’t move around but are placed in different parts of the screen. They also hide behind walls, under platforms, in towers and sometimes even fly in the air – making them harder to hit.
As the game goes on the enemies increase in number and vary in type too, again adding to the challenge. The boulders you throw bounce off enemies and are affected in different ways by the obstacles, so the way you throw them is as equally important as the direction you choose. Often you will be required to bounce the boulders off several enemies in just the right way to reach your goal. Your throws will need to have pin-point accuracy in order to hit just the right spot – and one foul throw will often lose you the level. Some scenery can be broken with one hit, some requires several hits, towers can be toppled over and if you are very clever you can cause massive chain reactions.
This might already sound quite frustrating – and I suppose it can be at times – but the beauty of King Oddball is that one level never takes more than a few minutes to complete, so it’s not like you spend ages trying to get everything right. If you mess it up, then just have another go. Sometimes it will take several attempts just to figure out the best way to go about each stage; after the earlier levels it will be very rare that you will complete one on the first go. This is where the addictiveness of the game comes in too, as you just won’t want to give up! King Oddball seems to constantly transmit some sort of secret message to your brain demanding that you give it one last try.
There is only one button needed to play the game so there are certainly no complicated controls to get in the way; the most difficult part of it all is getting the hang of how King Oddball’s tongue works. It swings from left to right in a low arc, and the higher it is the further the rock will go, but it’s matching the power with the angle that requires skill. That said, once you have played the game for a while you will have this down pat. I should also mention that if you do manage to destroy three enemies or more with a single hit, you’ll be rewarded with an extra boulder (i.e. an extra turn). Bonus points are awarded for any remaining boulders after each level has ended.
At first King Oddball seems to be quite simple, and you assume that there isn’t that much to it, but oh, how wrong you can be! There are over 160 standard levels to get through, as well as a whole host of bonus levels that do things like swap your rocks for grenades and have you trying to save valuable diamonds. On Xbox One, there are also plenty of achievements to be unlocked too for those who want to boost their gamer score and a handy table is included showing you what they all are.
Graphically, King Oddball is nothing to write home about – it looks like a mobile game – but visuals aren’t what this game is about, so they are a minor concern. I do want to mention the music though, because while it seems nice at first, as the game goes on it becomes incredibly grating and almost made me want to knock off a mark. But in all honesty that would be really harsh, because King Oddball is an incredibly addictive, massively enjoyable and most of all remarkably fun title that at less than a fiver should be an instant purchase for all puzzle fans out there!