Reviews// Odama (GameCube)

A Game That Demands Dedication

Posted 1 Jun 2006 12:09 by
SPOnG’s willing to give you a little more credit than that though. We know that a lot of you have been playing games from the days of the Speccy - when home computer games were incredibly unforgiving and when coin-ops required supernatural skills to finish on one credit. Show Odama the dedication that those games required back in the day, and its complicated gameplay will eventually become second nature as you achieve a Zen-like state, wherein your unblinking stare sees everything on-screen at once and even allows you to predict the trajectory of the ball and move the troops out of the way in time.

It’s upon reaching this state that you realise just how well Odama has been made. Voice recognition is, for the most part, very good. Whether speaking in a relaxed tone or excitedly shouting in the heat of a battle, the game almost always responds correctly...even to SPOnG’s gruff northern twang. The joypad uses the minimum of buttons to keep the action simple during the most chaotic moments: the shoulder buttons control the flippers, the d-pad selects targets for your troops to home in on, the A button throws supplies onto the field and the analog stick tilts the table. We realised very quickly that if the other buttons (rather than the microphone) were used to command the troops then the controls would become far too complex and fiddly. Smart thinking there, Yoot!

Graphically, Odama is nothing to write home about. You probably wouldn’t even waste a text message on it, but the game runs at a decent and consistent speed that keeps the pinball action feeling smooth enough. What it lacks in technical excellence however, it more than makes up for in style. The feudal Japanese theme is wonderfully maintained through both images and sound effects, whilst the troops’ sarcastic speech bubbles lend some much needed character to what would otherwise be a very sombre game.

SPOnG score: B

Unspectacular graphics aside, Odama is a remarkably inventive game that - if you’re willing to climb over the initial difficulty spikes - will provide a good few weeks of pinball combat...and, let’s face it, there are certainly much worse ways you could kill time whilst waiting for Zelda.
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