King Oddball is one of the latest in a long line of hit mobile games to make its way to home consoles. Games like this have experienced a varied range of success making this transition with many of the titles failing to capture an audience on console the way they did in the mobile space. So, now that King Oddball has made the leap from your phone to your PS4, how does it fare? Not too shabbily, as a matter of fact.
On first glance, King Oddball may resemble any number of any other games you may have played in this genre. You have a limited number of projectiles (in this case, rocks) to launch across the screen in hopes that you can clear out every stationary enemy before running out of rocks. Yes, the setup sounds very familiar and maybe even overdone, but this is where King Oddball really succeeds in that it takes a familiar concept and makes it feel fresh and new by injecting plenty of charm and personality.
Once you start up a game you are given instruction to help King Oddball destroy the world. This ends up being all the exposition that you receive and you are never given any explanation as to where King Oddball comes from or why he wants to destroy the world. All we know about him is that he is a giant floating head with a rock helmet and a tiny crown. With his overly long tongue he scoops up rocks and it’s up to you, the player, to time his swings and let the rocks fly at precisely the right time.
Timing is everything in this game. Things start off easily enough with only a few enemies on screen at a time, but after the over 120 different stages get rolling, the difficulty ramps up significantly. The number of enemies increases steadily as well as different obstacles to deal with such as force fields and walls blocking your rock’s path. You only ever have three rocks at your disposal for each level no matter the number of enemies on screen so you have to be very careful about where you launch your projectiles. You can earn extra rocks, but you have to do specific things and it’s not always a guarantee. It takes a fair amount of trial and error to figure out what strategy works best. Rocks that you throw bounce around after hitting enemies or explosive boxes so it becomes easier to hit three, four, even up to six enemies with one throw. Finding the perfect trajectory often takes some time, but the payoff is always satisfying.
Another thing that I really appreciated about King Oddball is that the focus of the game is just to clear out every enemy. Lots of games of this ilk assign you scores based on how many projectiles you have had to throw, or how many extra things you have blew up. It always annoyed me to clear a level in one of those games, only to receive two or even one star because I didn’t do enough extra stuff. In King Oddball there is none of this. The only focus point is to clear out every enemy in any way you see fit. It makes victory significantly more satisfying as opposed to being reminded that you could have done better.
The biggest drawback to King Oddball is that a certain sense of repetition does settle in after a while. You can get a feeling that this game was designed originally for short gaming bursts instead of the long stretches that I played it in. That being said though, I never really felt myself getting bored. Every level opens up a different challenge and although a sense of sameness permeates the later levels, it’s always a treat figuring out new techniques and strategies for every level.
In the end, King Oddball is exactly what you’d expect it to be, but it’s also exactly what you want it to be. My three kids and I put in roughly seven hours over the course of two days in which we finished up the main quests as well as several secret unlockable levels. Even after all that, we were never really ready to quit and move onto something else. The gameplay is simple, but also extremely addictive and I often found myself strategizing my next move even when I wasn’t playing. That, I think, is a mark of addictive gameplay. It won’t make as many waves as the next Batttlefield title or the next Assassin’s Creed game, but it also doesn’t need to. King Oddball is a polished, fun, and addictive experience that will satisfy any gamer who has even a passing interest in simple titles like this.
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