King Oddball PS4 Review: Weird and addicting
What is that thing up in the sky? Is it a moon? Can't be... it has a face and tongue. It's a face with a rock helmet, a tiny gold crown, teeth that act as nightmare fuel whenever he celebrates a win, and a tongue that would make Gene Simmons question the meaning of life. It is King Oddball – he's odd and has a crown, so it's an appropriate name.
King Oddball is a physics and skill-based puzzle game, and the comparisons to Angry Birds are unavoidable. Even in our office, everyone that was crowding around my desk watching me play kept saying how this reminds the of Angry Birds. But that didn't stop anyone from enjoying it. And everyone did enjoy it. It's a simple concept, but one that's very challenging to execute. The King grabs one of three rocks you have for the level with his long tongue and swings it back and forth like a pendulum.
The goal is to destroy the tanks, helicopters and soldiers in a level. Essentially, it all comes down to timing. You have to release the rock at the right time to either hit the enemy or a piece of environment. Environment-wise, King Oddball is a lot like Angry Birds, but it's the pendulum/timing mechanic that makes it really hard. The rocks you throw can bounce off of enemies and into others, racking up combos. If you get to a 3x combo, you get your rock back; if you get to 6x combo, you get the rock back plus another free rock. Likewise, if you bounce the rock up high enough that it hits King Oddball, you get the rock back.
There's no rating system for each level. No points. No stars. You just have to worry about passing it. You progress through levels on a map laid out in a grid. Beat a square on the map and you unlock the adjacent tiles to play. To beat all of the levels, it took about eight hours and a cooperative effort from myself and one of my coworkers. As you progress through the map, you'll unlock other gameplay modes that are even more challenging. One of them is a way to replay each level, since there's option to replay a level from the map. In this mode, named Hall of Diamonds, you play each level but are challenged by completing each level while having the last rock – which is a diamond in this mode – left in your inventory. So, instead of using three rocks, complete the level using two. It's definitely a harder challenge.
But you know what's even tougher than that? One Rock Challenge, where you have one rock to beat a level with about 10 enemies on it. And then there's the Boom Challenge, which gives you 20+ levels to complete using grenades instead of rocks.
While the challenge and puzzle aspect of King Oddball is fantastic, the physics can feel off a bit at times. Sometimes my rock would roll into a shielded tank, taking down the shield and flying off in the opposite direction. Other times it would just run into it and sit there. Also, you expect the rocks to roll or fall in a certain direction, and they don't necessarily do that. It just feels a little inconsistent.
The graphics give off a hand-drawn or painted vibe, with backgrounds taking places in different locales with different colored backdrops. There's not a ton of detail, but it looks war-torn. There's some rubble, buildings, flags, and some wildlife sprinkled in. It makes me curious as to what happened to this world where this omnipotent being is taking out armies of superior-powered enemies, like the Ewocks defeating the Stormtroopers. I have a feeling millions died at the hands of these tanks, and that's why King Oddball never has anything more than a grimace on his face.
… Wow. That got dark.
If you're up for a good, addictive puzzler, King Oddball is a great value at $6.99, considering it's cross buy with the PS Vita version.