King Oddball is one of the latest games to arrive on the Switch. It’s a perfect fit for the console – short, easy to pick up, difficult to master and fun to play. Sure, it’s never going to be able to compete with the likes of Breath of the Wild or Super Mario Odyssey, but it’s good enough to keep you entertained in any of those quiet periods between those triple A blockbusters landing.
King Oddball feels instantly familiar when you pick it up – likely because the gameplay has lots in common with other physics based mobile games. I’ll get it out of the way early because it would be amiss not to mention it, it’s like Angry Birds. Obviously, there are notable differences, the physics engine (in my opinion) is a lot cleaner and the mechanics differ slightly but overarching goal of the game is roughly the same – you use your character to destroy the ‘enemies’ on screen. But while there’s an undertone of games gone by throughout King Oddball, there’s enough new here to bring you right back to that world.
King Oddball himself is perhaps the most interesting thing about the game. You must control him in his attempt to destroy humanity. Sounds depressing, right? It’s actually hilarious because king Oddball is a giant ball whose defining feature is his extremely long purple tongue. He uses (or rather, you do) this tongue to swing boulders into the human resistance (it would be far too dark to use civilians so you’re fighting the army). It’s a really fun concept and you can see how it would play out in the game. Little mechanics like being able to get extra boulders by killing three enemies with one shot or touching the King with a boulder allow you to really experiment and have fun with the mechanics.
You move through levels by stepping across a little map grid. Each square is a level and you can only move on to the next part of the grid when you complete all the previous one. It’s a good system because it means at any time you have three or so levels to choose from. Get stuck? Don’t worry about it there’s something else to try. And trust me, you will occasionally get stuck. One of the defining features of King Oddball is the difficulty. Sure, some will claim they smashed the whole thing in 30 minutes but it’s far more likely you’ll be agonising over a particularly difficult level for that long.
The art style is super quirky throughout the game. Everything from Oddball’s tongue to the mini soldiers are well animated and relatively captivating. Little noises amplify the impact of every action giving the game a sense of scale. The whole thing is well put together and everything from the sound the visuals naturally complement each other.
My main critique of King Oddball is the length of it. Sadly, the game will likely only take you a couple of hours to complete to your pleasing. Thankfully there are a whole host of challenges to complete that will let you buff out your time – ranging from completing every level using just one boulder to using grenades instead of boulders. It’ll certainly increase the amount of time you spend with the game but even these ‘new’ ways of playing can get a little tired after a while.