When playing King Oddball for the first time you would be forgiven for thinking it’s very similar to the hit mobile game, Angry Birds. After Angry Birds success, app stores were littered with clones trying to capitalize on its success. So if you are reading this review, you may want to know if this is a cheap imitation or a game that’s actually worth your time and hard earned money. Let’s break it down.
King Oddball is a 2D puzzle solving game with a simple premise, bring chaos to the world. How you ask? By doing it the most obvious way possible of course, swinging rocks back and forth with his tongue. The military could learn lots from King Oddball. As he swings his tongue back and forth, all the player has to do is press the ‘A’ button at the right time to let the rock go and hopefully destroy all the enemies on the screen. These range from tanks, helicopters and people. As the game progresses it will take multiple hits to destroy an enemy. It requires timing and patience. Just like similar games, the player could knock obstacles into the enemies to help destroy them or the player needs to figure out how to get the rock over the obstacle to hit the obscured enemy. By default the player has a limit of 3 rocks to use to achieve the goal, but there are a few ways to get more rocks. One way is to chain a combo together and destroy multiple enemies at once. This will give you a stronger golden rock to use. The other way is more of a secret, so I won’t ruin it here.
Thankfully the game has no micro transactions at the time of writing this, so players do not need to part with their cash to get more rocks. The game boasts more then 120+ levels and secrets, and I would say there is plenty to see and do here. Besides the main levels, there are also side challenges. For example, one of them is to complete a level using only one rock, while one of the others is to use grenades instead. The two side challenges named take place on different levels, so it’s not a case of doing slightly different things on the same level. That’s not to say there isn’t a reason to replay levels you have successfully completed. A little while into the game you are told you can go back and replay levels, and if you complete them without using all rocks, you earn a diamond.
The premise of the game is simple, there is no story to follow or spoken dialogue. Instead the game features a peaceful soundtrack that helps keep a calming tone as you attempt a level repeatedly (or hundreds of times if you are as bad as me at certain levels). The game has a nice art style, its unique but not overly complicated. The user interface is minimal and fits nicely with the visual style. The game runs very smoothly, no technical issues were noticed throughout my play through, and trust me I was looking. I get a weird sense of joy from finding bugs or glitches.
The game has a slow start, at first you can’t help but feel it will follow the formula of Angry Birds. However after completing the first sector the game starts to show you how it’s different. For one I found this to be a harder game then others in the same genre. The lack of control of King Oddball leads to a great deal of experimenting on how to complete the level. I often found myself asking question such as “Could the king throw that high?” The harder levels had me experimenting before I even tried to complete them. Secondly I feel the game offers more content then you would expect from a game like this. I found myself pleasantly surprised each time a set of bonus levels were revealed. Lastly the lack of control over King Oddball personally feels like a more interesting game mechanic compared to having control. You really need to think differently than you would compared to similar games if you want to be able to pass the level.
King Oddball has its issues. For example, while calming, the soundtrack is repetitive. The game could have benefited with a wider range of tracks, with audio themes for different sectors. It’s not a big deal, many gamers play this type of game with the volume on low, possibly while doing other activities, or they may even have it on mute. However for those who pay attention and notice audio in games, they may be slightly disappointed. The game verbally tells you how well you performed after every level, and there is a range of different sayings based on how you performed. However there is no way of keeping track of how you did, so if you wanted to go back and try and get the level complete in less rocks, you would have no way of knowing how you did on each level. The side levels feature different types of projectiles that I would have liked to have seen in the main levels. The game would feel more interesting if you had to keep changing your tactics based on the projectile provided to you. I am being slightly picky, but I honestly feel the game would benefit from these slight tweaks.
To answer my statement from the top of this review, yes this game is definitely worth the money if the game sounds appealing to you. It’s definitely much better than many of the games in the same genre, and it does a good job of standing out and making sure you know that it’s not a clone of Angry Birds. However a thought was constantly playing on my mind as I played the game, and it still is. Should someone play this on a console? This is just a personal thought, but a game like this feels more at home on a mobile device to play on the go. I don’t mean that in a disparaging way, nothing about it doesn’t work well on a console, but with you only needing to use one button to play, it would feel right at home on a mobile device. I am aware the game has been on mobile devices for a while now so if this sounds like a game you also think is best played there then consider purchasing it on your preferred mobile device. To be clear, it doesn’t matter where you play this, and it plays very well on Xbox One, I just think other players may prefer to play this on mobile. Or maybe that’s just me, who knows.
Either way, all hail King Oddball.
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