Mobile games elicit a rather diverse range of opinions. Some view them as consistently pushing the boundaries of innovation while others see them as superficial, money-grubbing time killers at best. Regardless of what you feel about them, there is no denying the mobile market’s wealth of success, which is why Nintendo has recently dipped into it with Super Mario Run. There has also understandably been a recent spate of mobile games ported to home consoles, the Nintendo Switch recently being the most attractive option due to its combination of portability and convenient UI sensibilities.
King Oddball is a recent example of this trend: a mindlessly fun physics-based puzzle game developed by 10tons Ltd. 10tons Ltd was also behind the admirably polished Sparkle 2 Switch port, so at the very least going into this I was expecting a smooth gaming experience, which it delivered.
As the title suggests, you play as King Oddball, a head that has an amusingly long, purple tongue and a pumpkin for a helmet. His sole objective is world domination, and his radical way to go about this is to just hurl a rock at anything present on the screen. The control scheme is simple because well, there’s only one button to utilize: pressing it will release the rock flying in a certain direction dependent on the momentum created by the King’s pendulum-like swinging tongue. Essentially the gameplay is in the mold of a certain Angry Birds, in that the true difficultly lies within exercising your physics-based judgement to accurately hit everything in sight with limited resources.
There are over 100 levels, each granting you three rocks to throw at various rock formations and military machinery. Completing a level will result in the game showing you how much of the world map you have conquered. There are also special spaces scattered throughout the map that contain a cluster of functions to help you track your overall stats as well as any special achievements you’ve reached. As you progress through the levels, you will also unlock unique alternative modes such as Demolition Mode and Diamond Mode. Demolition Mode has you flinging grenades instead of rocks, providing a wholly different mechanic and strategy, in that you have to carefully position your explosions efficiently to obliterate enemies. Diamond Mode is like a traditional challenge mode, in which you progress through all the same levels, just using less rocks. Overall, however, the gameplay is extremely straightforward and boils down to entering a level, aiming, and then firing.
The visual and audio presentation won’t blow you away, but are decent enough on the big screen to complement the gaming experience well instead of hindering it. The cartoony explosions coupled with their powerful sound effects when you string a combo together feels really satisfying. The soundtrack is functional: it gives off a wacky, yet grim, atmosphere that is very appropriate for the setting.
Ultimately, King Oddball is a competent, one-button puzzler that can provide some casual, mindless entertainment during a few minutes every now and then, which makes sense considering its mobile origins. For only $4.99 on the eShop however, there are several hours’ worth of content and dark, silly humor to satisfy your twitchy hands on a consistent basis. If King Oddball is a sign of more impressively polished ports on the Switch to come, I for one, welcome our mobile overlords.