STAFF REVIEW of King Oddball (Xbox One)


Friday, September 23, 2016.
by Adam Dileva

King Oddball Box art Who knew that one day a game about flinging birds from a slingshot into buildings and pigs would become a massive success, spawning a near endless supply of other physics based puzzle games, all trying to capitalize on its success. While King Oddball does play differently, it utilizes some of the same concepts. The real question though is, does this one do enough differently to not fall into the Angry Birds clone stereotype, or will it be yet another physics puzzle game that gets forgotten? Let’s find out.

King Oddball won’t win any awards for its narrative, mainly because there really isn’t one included at all. You play as King Oddball, a giant floating head with an enormously long tongue that puts Gene Simmons to shame. You float in the sky, hurling rocks at your enemies, usually tanks, to try and destroy them all before you run out of boulders. That’s it. Honestly.

King Oddball is lucky, as the vast majority of his foes are simply stationary and don’t retaliate in any way. Apparently the military's idea of retaliation is hiding behind walls, under bridges, or in any flimsy buildings they can find. He has a single attack, and you only use a single button in the whole game, that’s how simplistic King Oddball can be. I say can because eventually levels will become quite challenging, as you’ve only a set number of boulders to hit every enemy.


Unlike having to aim and launch at the right time like other games, King Oddball will grab a boulder with his tongue then start to twist in place back and forth. Once you press the A button, that’s when he will release the rock, hurling it towards enemy tanks, choppers, and soldiers. Needless to say, the learning curve for the game is quite easy, but you will need to eventually master releasing the rock at just the right angle for it to bounce and hit multiple enemies at once.

Luckily for the King, if you manage to hit 3 enemies or more with a single rock, you’ll earn a bonus boulder, a tactic that is much needed in the latter stages with many enemies. As you progress, you’ll encounter different types of materials, all of which react differently when hit. Wood for example can be broken with a good hit, whereas stone walls can be broken, but take usually at least two hits to do so. You’ll also eventually encounter unbreakable objects, requiring you to think of an alternate way to lob your projectile at them since their hidden behind said wall.

The later stages become very difficult, as it seems as many stages only have one real solution to them. Eventually your throws need to be absolutely perfect or you will fail by running out of rocks. More often than not you’ll have one enemy left and one boulder to do so, only to miss by a slight bit, forcing you to replay the level once again. Most levels can be passed easily and with a single throw, but there are a handful that will have you stuck for quite some time, causing a lot of frustration.


At first you may think that King Oddball doesn’t offer much gameplay, as you can see how many stages are available on the world map, but you’d be wrong. There’s a large number of standard stages to complete, but you’ll also unlock a handful of separate bonus levels to challenge you as well. Some of these are interesting, having you lob grenades instead of rocks, something that I wish was incorporated into the main game itself rather than a bonus.

Unlike other physic puzzlers, King Oddball decides to do things a little bit differently; odd if you will (see what I did there?). Instead of having a 3 star rating on each stage then allowing you to replay them to earn a better rank, once a level is complete, that’s it, you can’t replay it. You’re also not ranked on how well you completed a level, based on how many rocks it took to do so aside from a message saying “great” or some variation of "good job". It’s an odd decision to design the game this way, as replaying levels is what gives games like this a lot of replayability. Granted, there’s a bonus section where you can replay some of the basic stages again, but it’s not the same as letting a friend try the same level once you finish it to see how they perform.


Instead of levels displayed in a linear form, there’s a world map that has you in a specific 4x4 grid, and once every stage in the grid is complete, you can then move onto the next grid of new levels until the whole map is unlocked. As for how it looks, it’s as if it’s been ripped right from a mobile game. Granted, a game like this doesn’t need anything special for visuals, but it stand out either. As for the audio, the music is decent at first, but it loops frequently and becomes very repetitive, so eventually you’re going to want to mute the audio, especially if you’re trying to complete all the levels or stuck on a specific one for quite some time.

While there are a large number of levels, many of them feel exactly the same. Very few stand out as memorable, as it’s usually slightly different enemy placement more than intriguing ‘puzzles’ that need to be solved. Something I kept asking myself while going through King Oddball was “Am I having fun?”, as if it wasn’t obvious, even to myself. My answer? Kind of. Maybe it’s simply because I never jumped aboard the Angry Birds train. Simply put, this would be fun on mobile, but as a console game, it’s not something you want to generally sit down and play for a few hours at a time, but instead, just a few quick minutes.

There’s a large number of levels and bonuses to play through, and if you were ever addicted to Angry Birds at some point, you’ll know exactly what to expect, even if at times it feels like you need more luck than skill. That being said, given its low price point, there is a decent amount of value contained within, even if the fun can be fleeting.




Overall: 5.0 / 10
Gameplay: 5.0 / 10
Visuals: 5.0 / 10
Sound: 3.5 / 10

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