King Oddball (Switch eShop) Review
There are some mobile games that smoothly make the transition to other platforms. There are also plenty that don’t, they don’t have enough meat on them to make porting worth it. King Oddball struggles to justify its existence. It’s not a bad game, just not one that really makes sense outside of the app stores.
King Oddball is a large floating round head that menacingly hovers over the earth, and his only goal is to end the world. To do this you’ll be using the King’s tongue to throw rocks at tanks, soldiers, and helicopters. The tongue swings around with the rock at the end. Your goal is to release the rock at the right time to destroy the targets on the single screen playing field. It’s like a simplified Angry Birds. There can be little structures built up and explosive crates dotted around to help you clear targets.
Timing your swing and getting the right trajectory is a big part of every turn, but you don’t get to aim and there is no extra abilities to liven things up. You just throw rocks from a limited radius. You only have three rocks per level, and you have to quickly get decent at destroying targets in combos. There are not enough rocks to take out everything, but with a high combo, you get an extra rock. You can also bounce back rocks and catch them with your giant head. This tended to rarely happen, as more often than not my rock would make something explode and fire the rock straight up into the air and land off the screen.
Controlling the King couldn’t be simpler. You hit the A button or touch the screen to release a rock, then let the chaos ensue. Hit the – button to reset, because you completely missed. When you get a good feel for the trajectory, it gets easier to get a good feel for the aiming system. Once things get a little more complicated, it becomes a game of chance of explosions launching the rock into enough of the other targets to clear everything with fewer rocks than targets and some targets gaining forcefields it can often devolve into a game of chance ricochets.
You have 140+ levels to satiate your growing hunger for world domination and then destruction. By the 100-level mark, they begin to require a bit more finesse (or just sheer luck) to clear as force fields become more commonplace and enemy placement less convenient. If you ever get stumped, there are several bonus modes you can unlock as you clear the map. Levels require you to destroy all the targets. Whether the target is a different shaped rock, replaced with grenades, one rock to clear the level or just clearing the level with enough rocks to earn the gem, ultimately, you’re doing the same thing only most of those levels are harder and they’re not fun to solve either.
A neat extra mode is a Halloween map which unlocks early and gives everything a ‘spooky’ makeover. The King wears a pumpkin helmet during the normal levels too. It’s nice to have bonuses like this and hopefully, there’s some for other holidays but at this point, it’s too early to tell. Overall, the main world map is likely to take you around three to four hours, the bonus levels add a little bit more. For the price, it’s a decent length game (if you can get past the repetitiveness).
The visuals are fine, they’re cartoony and some visuals are pretty amusing to see (the fake King Oddballs never stop being goofy) and they have a nice pastel quality to them. Ultimately, they do the job of depicting a King who is just a comically large head on a destructive warpath. The soundtrack is subtle and jazzy and a little offbeat and shares a similar DNA to Professor Layton soundtracks, it might not be for everyone but I dug it and there’s nothing like hearing the accordion and violin musical sting at the end of each level. For a game where you just need to time the release of a rock, there is plenty of style throughout. In keeping with the slightly oddball nature of the game I found there is a crazy moment that happened sometimes. Every now and then, the King would yank the on-screen pause icon from its place and use it as an extra rock. There didn’t seem to be any reason for it happening and there didn’t seem to be any other touches like that, but given the odd premise of the game, it just adds to the silliness.
As I said earlier, King Oddball isn’t a bad game, but it does feel misplaced on the Switch as it would any console; the handheld or tablet mode isn’t enough to make it work here. As the Switch library continues to grow at such an exponential rate there are more than enough games to drown out titles like this. At the time of writing, King Oddball is currently a little more expensive on the Switch than it is for mobile. But both prices are still quite cheap. If you’re having trouble finding small time wasters to fill your Switch with then there are worse ways to spend your time than King Oddball, but there are also many better ones for not much more.
Nice visuals and jazzy music
Bonus levels add some variety
The ability to role play as a destroyer of worlds
More luck needed than skill
A mobile port that’s hard to justify