Game Review: King Oddball (PS Vita)

King Oddball PS Vita

King Oddball is a puzzle game available for download from the PlayStation Store for the PS Vita. King Oddball is a fun puzzle game that sees you attacking enemy targets, which is more different than the Angry Birds franchise than you may originally believe.

There are over 120 levels to play and as you progress through the normal levels; you will earn more levels to be played in the unlockable game modes, such as the diamond and grenade game modes. The decision to have unlockable game modes that you earn as you progress further through the game is a wise choice that certainly freshens up the gameplay.

The diamond game mode is called Hall of Diamonds and sees you having to complete each level with two boulders as the third boulder has been replaced with the diamond and if you have not destroyed all of the targets with two boulders; you will have to throw the diamond, which would result in you having to replay the level to attempt to earn the diamond. The grenade game mode is called The Boom Challenge and sees you having to complete each level with the two or more grenades you are provided with, which are in place of the boulders and explode rather abruptly wherever they land.

You take on the role of The King; who likes to pick-up boulders with his tongue and swing them rather viciously at any target that he does not like. The premise may sound simple, but you only get three boulders per level, although you do have the chance to earn more boulders by destroying three or more targets with only one boulder. To complicate matters further; if you hit one of the targets too lightly, then it will only crack rather than being completely destroyed. This places you in a scenario were you have to think about your strategy before just randomly throwing a boulder; as you have to anticipate the bounce and roll of the boulder based upon the surface or target you are throwing it at and the angle you are throwing it at too.

There are descriptions of your performance, which are displayed after you have completed each level. The descriptions range from “No epic win”, “Destruction failed” or “Out of rocks” for an unsuccessful performance to “Not bad” for a reasonable performance to “Spectacular”, “Superior” and “Epic win!” for a great or outstanding performance. While the descriptions may not seem to be that important; they actually provide a sense of accomplishment when your performance is praised and a sense of comedy when it is ridiculed, which successfully provides another layer of charm to the game.

The controls are rather basic and therefore quite easy to learn, although there are multiple control schemes to choose from. The face buttons control scheme consists of pressing X to release a boulder, pressing triangle to restart the level in case you have made a mistake and pressing start to display the pause menu, while the touch screen control scheme consists of tapping anywhere on the touch screen to release a boulder, tapping the restart icon to the immediate left of the pause icon to restart the level in case you have made a mistake and tapping on the top right of the touch screen to display the pause menu.

The graphics are simplistic yet effective with an eccentric graphical art style. The King that you control; the enemy targets you are swinging the boulders at; the platforms and obstacles, alongside the backgrounds all look rather basic, but despite that they have their own charm to them.

The presentation of the game is solid with a great touch screen based user interface across various menus such as the level selection menu and options menu with support for navigation via the left analogue stick, right analogue stick, directional pad and face buttons, although it does not include support for navigation via the rear touch pad, although that is not an issue considering the other methods of navigation that are available. The background of the menu screens consists of a backdrop of a landscape with pyramids and varying shades of blue skies contrasting from light to dark.

The audio consists of original music by Jonathan Geer and sporadic sound effects. The frantic music adds some comedic tension and provides the sense of a build up to a climax, while the sound effects although basic; actually work quite well and still add another layer to the sound. The sound effects mostly include explosions from the enemy tanks and helicopters that you destroy as you progress through with incidental additions, such as when The King collects the boulders with his tongue before swinging them and the sound that is made as the boulders have been released as they begin to hurtle towards the target.

The trophy list includes sixteen trophies with fifteen bronze trophies and one gold trophy. There are a number of trophies that are technically easier trophies as they are accumulative figures or will be achieved naturally as you progress through the game, such as the Destroyer of a Thousand bronze trophy for destroying a thousand enemies and the Thousand Throws bronze trophy for throwing a thousand projectiles. The harder trophies require you to destroy a certain number of enemies with one throw of the boulder, such as the Four for One bronze trophy for destroying four enemies with one throw of the boulder; Six Pack bronze trophy for destroying six enemies with one throw of the boulder; and the Golden Five bronze trophy for gaining five extra rocks during a level. The hardest trophy is most probably the Full of Diamonds gold trophy for collecting all of the diamonds in the Hall of Diamonds game mode, which requires you to complete each of the Hall of Diamonds levels with at least one boulder spare. I would estimate depending upon skill, your ability to judge the angles you are throwing the boulders at appropriately and a good trophy guide to provide some helpful tips that it would take around ten hours to 100% the trophy list.

There are no difficulty levels, but each level will technically become harder as you have more targets or a lower number of targets spread further apart requiring pinpoint precision and strategic thinking; as you will only have the same number of boulders to use unless your performance is exceptional enough to earn additional boulders for scoring a significant multiplier by destroying three or more targets with only one boulder.

There is no online multiplayer or online leaderboards, although I believe that competitive online multiplayer for two players to compete to achieve the quickest time for destroying the targets in any given level would have been a great addition; as would have been a co-operative online multiplayer for two players to take turns attempting to destroy targets, which would have also worked well as a hot seat game mode. As for the online leaderboards, I could see King Oddball benefiting from having leaderboards for the quickest times across each level and the overall completion game, alongside the highest multipliers for each level and the overall game; although unfortunately none of these features are present.

The replayability of King Oddball comes from the range of content as there are more than 120 levels, multiple game modes and secrets that are on offer throughout the game. The fact that this is a simple yet addictive game will certainly have you giving it just one more try over and over until you realise how much time has passed you by.

Overall, King Oddball is a simple yet fun and addictive game that is accessible enough to be played in short bursts, but is addictive enough to have you playing for long periods too and with over 120 levels, multiple game modes and secrets to find; for just £3.69 the content and value merge together to make this a must purchase for fans of puzzle games. King Oddball can be looked upon as being in the same mould as Angry Birds, but the game certainly involves more strategic elements, which carves the game a path in a new direction away from the Angry Birds franchise, while being just as charming, addictive and fun to play.

Jason Bonnar

At A Glance

  • Title: King Oddball
  • Publisher: 10Tons Ltd
  • System: PS Vita
  • Format: PSN Download
  • Cross Buy: No
  • Cross Play: No
  • Online Multiplayer: No
  • Memory Card Space Needed: 23Mb

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