The skill based puzzle game King Oddball has a very simple premise. Utilising the Vita touchscreen, the player must launch rocks at various military vehicles and personnel in order to destroy them. King Oddball is the stationary head at the top of the screen, and his tongue is the mechanism by which said rocks are hurled at their targets. The tongue swings back and forth and the player must tap the screen at the right moment in order to release the rocks on the correct trajectory. With a limited number of rocks, the player must clear the screen of all targets to progress to the next level.
King Oddball’s game play and mechanics will immediately draw comparisons to the wildly successful Angry Birds. That’s because, essentially, it is the same game. Sure, there are a few differences between the two. For example, King Oddball restricts all of its levels to fit on a single screen. However, the other key diversions from the Angry Birds template only limit player choice and strategy: there is only one type of ammo, and this ammo type can only be launched via the mechanism described above. As such, the Angry Birds comparison is one which inevitably reflects unfavorably on 10tons’ game.
Whatever the slight differences in mechanics were, my experience playing King Oddball was a disjointed one. It felt like 10tons wanted to produce a game that obviously co-opted the addictive game play of Angry Birds, while at the same time going out of their way to make their title appear as if that wasn’t their intention. As a result, King Oddball feels like a flat copycat. The presentation provides a clear example of this: the game lacks the colourful, crisp and polished Angry Birds aesthetic and appears drab and grainy. This dour colour scheme is surely deliberate, yet I found it uninspiring. Kind Oddball lacks character, originality and most importantly, personality.
In fact, ‘odd’ is probably quite an appropriate word to describe King Oddball. As I completed each stage I would open up new levels and game modes. There would be slight additions to each level in the form of new environmental hazards, such as walls or exploding blocks. I found that additional rocks could be gained by destroying enemies in multipliers of three or more. Yet the first sixty levels King Oddball has to offer posed minimal challenge. The Vita title comes with Trophies, but these didn’t unlock until I had completed the first section of the game. Similarly, I played the early levels under the impression that King Oddball offered no way of recording progress in terms of statistics, only to discover that, oddly, I unlocked the stats menu many levels into the game. There doesn’t seem to be any scoring method, which again restricts the longevity of a game such as this in terms of beating high scores. King Oddball does offer a slight variation on game modes as the player progresses through the game in the form of, for example, The Boom Challenge. However, in reality this is just more of the same: the player is merely provided with grenades to lob at targets on the screen instead of rocks.
King Oddball has a lot of levels on offer and its similarity to Angry Birds in terms of game play means it is a title which can be picked up and put down in order to pass a few minutes of time. However, it lacks the addictive nature, challenge, variety and charm of Angry Birds. Put simply, it’s just not as fun. I don’t see myself returning to the game in the future, let alone frequently. King Oddball is not a game which can be successful anywhere other than the mobile market. Whatever its merits as a mobile gaming title, this is a review of its release on the PlayStation Vita. When compared to the titles available on that platform, King Oddball falls woefully short.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.