King Oddball for PS Vita
Developer: 10Tons Ltd
Release Date: 8th January 2014 (EU)/ 4th February 2014 (NA)
What is it?
King Oddball (also referred to as King Oddball Ends the World) is the latest game from the creative minds at 10Tons. The Finnish developer are known for a host of games on mobile platforms, but PS Vita owners will know them as the team behind colour based puzzle game Sparkle.
You play as King Oddball himself, a rather mean spirited floating green, crown wearing ball. It seems that world domination is his only salvation, but unfortunately the only way to conquer the world is to destroy his enemies with a massive stash of boulders, using his, um, long and sticky tongue. A physics based puzzle game, King Oddball takes the well established puzzle game formula and attempts to print a new and unique twist. But does it succeed?
Physics based puzzle games are very common. Load up your smartphones App Store or Google Play store and chances are you will see a host of them on the front page. Since the inception of Angry Birds (and its many spin offs) game developers have tried to re-enact its success. Though many gamers are sick and tired of having those colourful birds shoved in their faces in every conceivable way, Angry birds is popular for a reason. It is a fun game. Its addictive and is designed in a way that makes you want to constantly beat your previous score. But it also included characters that young children could fall in love with. Come on, who doesn’t love a big red cuddly bird that hurtles through the air with a soul aim of crushing green, mocking pigs?
The portable puzzle game market is extremely competitive, so to create a long lasting legacy developers have to not only create a fun and functional puzzle game, but in my opinion include characters that are funny, likable or just plain bonkers. Or all three. Enter King Oddball, a game that definitely fits into the latter category. Its bonkers. Completely bonkers. But, even with its shortcomings and strange design choices; Vita owners watch out- the new king of puzzle based bolder throwing gaming fun is here, and ready to win your heart and attention span for months to come.
The set up is simple. You are the king of some far off land, (who for some reason is a big green floating ball) and it seems your loyal subjects have become unhappy with your rule, and are attempting a mass revolt, equipped with soldiers, tanks, helicopters and conveniently places boxes of dynamite. Using your impressively big tongue, and an array of small boulders, its up to you to, erm… save the day?
Put simply, the gameplay is similar to Angry Birds. You have a limited amount of boulders to destroy everything on the map. If you don’t, you fail, and will have to hit the refresh button (which you will do ALOT). With over 150 levels, as well as countless side missions, you certainly get a lot of content for just over 3 quid.
Technically King Oddball is spot on. Using the touch screen to time your throws works perfectly, and I would even say provides a more precise strike than that of the physical buttons. Oddballs tongue will constantly swing, and it’s down to the player to decide when to release the boulder from its owner’s oddly stickly tongue. Expect many replays of levels, as you learn about the different ways in which the boulders will fall. In the real world boulders are rarely perfectly round, and 10tons have realised this. It will never simple roll, but with its rough edges, will bounces, skid and come to a halt without warning. Similar to kicking a Rugby ball and watching it roll and twist in a variety of directions due to its silly shape. This attention to detail is incredible, and I believe that King Oddball is the best technically crafted games for the Vita I have ever played. Seriously, it’s that well done.
The music is appropriate, though will perhaps become quite annoying when you are stuck on a particularly difficult level. Sound effects are all well done, with explosions and collapsing sounds all being spot on. The game is filled with a sense of light-heartedness and fun. Phrases such as “Spectacular” and “Incredible” will greet you if you finish a level with a few boulders to spare, but complete a level using all your boulders and you will receive the less that enthusiastic phrases such as “Rather Nice” or simply “Good”. Another fun little addition is the sad face King Oddball pulls when he can see that a level has been failed. Nothing to write home about, but a nice touch.
A world map design is used for level navigation, which has a similar look to that of a battleships map. The world map is split into nine sections, with each one having its own look and feel. Visually this game is very pretty. A fuzzy filter covers the whole game, giving the design a more darker and sinister feel, yet somehow still keeping its colourful and light-hearted feel. More levels open up to you as you progress, along with more added bonuses.
For all its successes in the gameplay department, not everything is perfect in 10Tons new puzzle game. Whereas in similar puzzle games, you are given a rating for how well you’ve done in a level, you are given next to no feedback in King Oddball. This was particularly frustrating after stages I felt I could have done better on. There is no star rating, no score, nothing. But the strangest design choice, is the fact that you cannot go back and replay already completed levels. Once its done, it’s done and you will have to move on. There is no score, no points and no chance of bettering your last playthrough. This became more troublesome during later levels, where after completing a particularly difficult level, and having a sense of achievement for finally conquering it, I really wanted some sort of indicator to how well I had done. I want praise dammit!
Though this does change it up from other games within the same genre (though not necessarily for the good) there were some points when I wanted to retry a level, as I felt I could complete it in less throws. At the time of writing, I have completed around 90 levels, and if this feature opens once the game is completed, I will of course rewrite this section, but if not, this is indeed a bizarre design choice.
Another strange decision was to randomly include stats as an unlockable feature about a quarter of the way through the playthough. There was no way of tracking my highest combo and other stats until I had unlocked this feature, which once again is pretty odd. Oh silly King Oddball and his Odd shenanigans.
• Fantastic level design and attention to detail.
• Uses touchscreen perfectly.
• Looks pretty.
• Absolutely crazy concept, with a strong sense of fun throughout.
• Lots of content for a great price.
• Limited stat tracking.
• No way of replaying levels.
• Unhelpful unlocking system.
Fantastically made, inventive and just plain crazy, King Oddball is a fun and addictive puzzle game that will have you hooked for months, regardless of the inability to better your score. Rather nice indeed.