If you see a green guy, with a helmet made of rock and a little crown on top, then run for the hills, because King Oddball is in town and he won’t stop until he’s destroyed everything in his path.
Developed by a team of 5 people at 10tons, King Oddball is about a pretty odd fellow who must be a king, surely he must, he’s got a crown after all.
But the king of whatever land he’s from clearly isn’t contempt with ruling his own land, instead he wants to take over the world by destroying everything. Positioned towards the top of the screen, the King glides down into place and then grabs a large rock with his tongue, swinging back and forth you have the simple control of a single tap on the ‘A’ button to release the rock in an attempt to clear the on screen tanks.
With 3 rocks in total, you’ll make short work of the early levels, but things soon get a little more tricky. Before long you’ll find yourself with far more tanks to destroy than you have rocks, and then it’s a task of getting a ricochet off one tank to destroy a second, hit an explosive box to do more damage or strike the Angry birds style blocks to collapse structures taking down more enemies.
Thanks to an extremely inviting learning curve you’ll make short work of these early levels, but soon enough things start to get much more complicated, various types of helicopters that hover mid air requiring a direct hit, squishy soldiers that absorb the pace of the rock preventing a rebound, and shields that mean the vehicle will require an extra hit.
There’s some great variety to levels, however each also carries an air of familiarity with identical background music that’s far too repetitive, and the same swing distance and level size meaning the somewhat unpredictable swing is the only major obstacle.
The rest is much more a matter of luck, as precise as you’ll try to be, you’ll end up clearing 4 or more enemy targets by accident far more than you’ll clear 3 intentionally. The fall and roll of the rock always feels pot luck, and while titles like Peggle give a great feeling of skill, King Oddball tries hard but usually just makes you feel incredibly lucky.
Working through the simpler levels, it was about an hour before I came across a level that took more than a few attempts to clear, this was around the 50% mark leaving me feel somewhat underwhelmed but fortunately the second half felt much more taxing, with some levels taking far too many retries to recall an exact number. Thankfully the one-button controls add a second ‘Reset’ button which restarts the level and will put you back in control of the first rock within 3 seconds.
With quick retries, and that element of luck there’s a definite addictive pull which battles closely with the repetitiveness and thankfully, the addiction soon comes out on top. Music aside there’s enough variety in the challenges, the way they’re set out and the different approach you can take for many levels will keep you coming back for more.
On the main map, you’ll find a 3×3 grid each containing it’s own 4×4 grid, these 16 spaces contain either a tank (signifying a level) or an empty space (thankfully there’s only a few of these). There’s also a special icon in each area which gives you a little bonus.
One is a simple statistics screen showing progress, combo’s and how many hits and wins you’ve achieved so far, another simply unlocked achievements while others open up a completely new section such as ‘One Rock’, ‘Secret World’ (which are pretty self explanatory) and ‘Boom’ which uses grenades instead of boulders for some explosive fun. These each contain an additional 15-20 levels which takes the total level count up to 131, This takes the game time past the 4-6 hours mark which makes for some great value for only £4.
Being a small indie title, we don’t expect glorious graphics, but there’s a nice art style, with some sharp visuals. It’s all kept very simple, but the dark green of enemies make them always easy to spot and your surroundings and destructible objects are all easy to define with clear, sharp edges and a varied colour scheme.
Audio is limited with simple explosions, bangs and crashes and an even more limited soundtrack which sadly adds to the repetitive nature, but when you take into account the small team and price, both graphics and audio feel fair and adequate.