King Oddball Review

Always wanted to throw rocks at everything you see? If so then King Oddball gives you just that – you little thug! King Oddball is a puzzler in the Angry Birds mould – but instead of launching hapless feathered friends you play as the floating King Oddball who, with his rather long tongue (steady there, you at the back), licks up rocks and swings them back and fourth until finally letting go, getting momentum and angle just right to squish as many unfortunate targets as possible.

King Oddball’s format is a very simple one, as befits its iOS origins: you start with three rocks and you are presented with enemies on the map that you have to destroy. Simples. As you would expect missions increase in difficulty and add extra features along the way. To complete each mission you have to squash the enemies with whom you are faced – usually represented by little green tanks, helicopters and soldiers. Combos and skill shots (for example, bouncing rocks off King Oddball himself) will reward you with Golden or extra rocks, useful in those harder missions where extra ammunition can be the difference between winning and losing.

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We managed to complete all main missions, one boss mission at the end, and dabbled in some of the challenge modes, with a play time of around three hours. The challenge modes are unlocked throughout the game – challenges include Diamond Mode which requires you to finish the mission with the diamond rock still in your inventory, presenting more of a challenge. There’s not a huge amount here to tax you, though; some of the hardest missions were completed in just a handful of attempts. Either we are extremely good at throwing rocks at unsuspecting soldiers, or the difficulty in level design is somewhat lacking. Whilst it’s a nice change not to be tearing our hair out, there’s a danger here that longevity is diminished.

It is fun though, while it lasts. There’s something deliciously child-like and addictive in squashing soldiers with giant rocks (those with a more gentle upbringing may disagree) and King Oddball’s level variation does a good job of holding our interest.  Control is simple but works well – you feel in control of the movement meaning that tongue-lashing those rocks is surprisingly accurate. Later missions allow for some more tactical thinking, such as using bouncing balls to change the trajectory of the rocks. With a relatively short run time and constantly refreshed level design, we were never bored by King Oddball, and although suited to shorter gaming sessions, we found ourselves replaying levels just to improve.

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King Oddball isn’t a game that will have you on the edge of your seat, or become a game you can’t wait to get home to play, but despite its repetitiveness it’s a fun little game to play when you have some time to kill.

Almost unbelievably, developer 10tons hasn’t tried to shoehorn in some complex story that explains why a giant floating head who was clearly at the front of the queue when they were giving out tongues has it in for some unfortunate soldiers. And honestly, we can’t think of anything remotely plausible that would explain even half of the strangeness of King Oddball. This is a game that relies on how it plays, looks and sounds to keep you interested. And it gets all of these elements right. Each chapter has its own backdrop, and King Oddball travels from snowy mountainside to city district in the course of the game. Animations are cartoon-like and the soldiers are quite endearing (until squished). Throughout you are accompanied by a catchy and funky soundtrack which, again, fits in nicely.

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King Oddball relies on its smooth gameplay and addictive sense of progression to keep you interested, but in reality it becomes a game you play now and then when you have nothing better to do or  have just a few minutes to kill. Although levels progressively increase in difficulty, and new level design creates new challenges, the difficulty seems pitched just a little on the easy side, meaning you may just zoom right through the levels.  Extra missions, such as the Diamond challenge, attempt to add more replay ability but will only entice completionists or those who wish to gain all achievements, as there’s no fundamental change to the game on offer.

King Oddball is fun, weird and short. Like Tom Cruise. If he was fun.

King Oddball is available from the Store, priced just £3.99 (discounted to £3.49 until 19 September).

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