Physics-based puzzles are nothing new. As a kid, I remember playing games like Crush The Castle, having played nothing but Flash games on the Internet back then. However, since Angry Birds exploded onto the scene, there have been a slew of puzzlers, all in the name of breaking stuff. Unfortunately, King Oddball is nothing but a mediocre, wannabe usurper to the throne.
The game’s premise is simple. You play the titular King Oddball, a giant floating head-thing that wants to take over the world. How do you accomplish that? By throwing giant boulders at the military, of course! Each level, the King has three boulders (which he slings with his giant tongue) to take out various military forces, like tanks, helicopters, soldiers, etc. You can gain extra boulders by destroying 3 targets in a row or by launching a boulder. It’s a gimmick that’s based more on timing rather than aim, which seemed interesting at first.
This happens over the course of 120+ levels, on top of dozens of bonus levels with special tasks, like using grenades instead of boulders, or beating the level with only one boulder. King Oddball offers a fairly large number of levels, but the level design is so unimpressive that the game quickly gets tedious. There’s so little variety in most of the levels that you’ll find yourself going “Didn’t I finish a level exactly like this 10 minutes ago?” The only way the game feels like you’ve made any progress is by looking at the game’s map. Levels are divided in 4x4 chunks which you clear out individually. It doesn’t help that the game doesn’t even have skill ratings, leaderboards, or even replayable levels. That’s right, you can’t replay a level after finishing it. It essentially kills a lot of what makes puzzle games have such a long shelf life.
That’s not to say it’s entirely devoid of anything positive. King Oddball does get surprisingly challenging at points. Perfectly timing your swing becomes crucial as enemies are placed in more inconvenient locations and gain the ability to absorb blows via force fields. It’s satisfying to beat one of these levels after several dozen failed attempts. It’s a feeling that wanes quickly after beating what looks like the same level for the 30th time.
King Oddball is a game that loses its luster really quickly. What could have been a surprisingly clever play on the Angry Birds formula ends up being a dull affair by its lack of variety, weak level design or replayability.
Down with this king.