King Oddball is a very suitable name for this game. It’s very, very odd. It’s a game available on most mobile devices, as well as PC and Mac, it was even released on PS Vita. 10tons have recently just launched the PlayStation 4 version of King Oddball which I’m reviewing today, I think it’s safe to assume despite the differing operating systems they’re mostly the same game.
King Oddball is a puzzle game with gameplay that is pretty generic for this genre: You play as the titular King Oddball, and use your tongue to throw rocks at the opponents in a style reminiscent of Angry Birds. There’s no points system though, it’s all about doing the puzzles and clearing each level found on the board, which is huge. The world map shows each board which is split into nine 4×4 tiles, meaning there’s 16 levels per tile and roughly 144 levels total (possibly less due to tutorial spaces), not including the bonus games.
There’s a lot to play through in King Oddball, meaning you could easily get your money’s worth with this game. However the gameplay itself can get pretty repetitive. New enemies and items appear in some of the later stages, but they’re too few to make any huge changes to the gameplay. The bonus games, such as the Boom Challenge, really do freshen up the gameplay, however. This particular mode has the king throwing grenades that explode after a few seconds, which have a fairly large blast radius, in order to destroy boxes and hit the targets.
Graphically, everything looks great. It has a hand-drawn feel that really suits the game, especially in the backgrounds of each of the levels. There are several different backgrounds that differ from tile to tile depending on your location on the maps world, up north the background will reflect a frozen landscape, near the centre of the map, it’ll reflect a middle eastern scene, for example.
In terms of controls though, the game is extremely simple. Use the D-pad or analogue stick to move around the world map and the X button to throw the rocks once in a level. Pressing X sometimes felt a little unresponsive, and I’d have to press multiple times to get the King to actually throw the rock.
The first tile on the board is designed to teach the player the angles they need to throw the rocks at in order to hit certain targets. It definitely gets easier as you play, but there’s a natural steady learning curve. One thing I didn’t realise until later into the game though, is that the triangle button lets you quick reset a level when you mess up. Not sure if that was mentioned in a tutorial or not, but it’s highly possible that I just missed it.
King Oddball really lacks any reason to buy it on PlayStation 4 too: There’s no unique control methods that utilise the PlayStation 4’s touch pad, or any real advancement from the mobile or PS Vita version. It feels like they just ported a mobile title to the PlayStation 4 for the sake of doing so, without actually innovating their own title. The mobile version works perfectly for what it is, but a PS4 port was really unnecessary.
The sound of the game, for me, is its major downfall. There’s not much here in the way of soundtrack besides two or three repetitive songs. Jonathan Geer did a good job in producing the music, but there really needed to be a wider variety of tracks. This is perfectly fine for the iOS and Android titles, but when it’s brought to consoles it feels really out of place.
King Oddball is certainly fun in short bursts, but don’t expect any deep gameplay mechanisms or an engaging experience. Personally I’d say this game was more suited as a way to kill time or warm up for a bigger game, which is what I do with Peggle.
This review was written based on the PlayStation 4 version of King Oddball.