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 Post subject: Odama | 7/10 | Gamecube
PostPosted: Fri Jan 04, 2008 4:57 am 
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Another Nintendo Spin On Things

You have to give Nintendo credit for one thing at least: they sure have come up with some innovated ways to play games. They brought us out of the Atari joystick dark ages with the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) control pad. Then they did wonders for gaming by adding two extra action buttons, along with two shoulder mounted buttons for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES). This was a controller design that was copied and slightly modified by Sony for their Playstation console, and with a few additions has pretty much been the standard layout for most console controllers since. Nintendo brought out the Power Pad a long time before Konami started their dancing revolution. Nintendo even made a little robot to help you play games called ROB. Turned out that ROB was a bit publicity shy and went into hiding shortly after the release of original NES.

These controller innovations didn’t halt with Nintendo’s fall from it’s zenith of the late 80’s. It brought out that touch screen portable marvel known as the DS since. While not new a new concept, it was greatly popularized motion controlled games by way of the Wii system. And, Nintendo has given us voice controlled Pinball. (With the help of developer Vivarium.)

Yep. Voice Controlled Pinball.
Sort of.

The basic story is this: You play a Japanese general who is out to get revenge against another Japanese general who betrayed your father. To that end you have a power to command, and great and mighty weapon to wield: The Odama. Which is basically a giant pinball.

You basic goal with each level is to have to your troops carry a giant bell through a gate at the top of the playfield. To hinder you are enemy troops and natural objects such as rivers and hills. You use The Odama to attack enemy troops and to clear the way for your own troops to progress.

Ok, to the specifics:

Gameplay: This is a pinball game. You have two wooden flippers at the bottom of the screen that you control with your trigger buttons. You fire your Odama out of a cannon at the beginning of each stage by pressing the A button. The other buttons send out more troops, zoom in on a particular area, or throw rice balls out to distract your enemies. You can also tilt the map with the analog stick.

A unique addition to this game is the microphone. Odama comes with a microphone that plugs into a memory card slot. You use that microphone to direct where your troops march to on the battlefield. The voice commands work surprisingly well and I never had a problem with anything I said not being understood. The game has a limited set of commands that it understands and you are taught these as the game progresses. It is a good thing that the game doesn’t understand everything you say. If my in-game troops could’ve heard everything I was yelling when that Odama wouldn’t take out a target I needed to demolish, it would’ve probably killed troop morale.

The Playfields: Whole battlefields serve as your pinball playing area. Other than your two wooden flippers, there are no bumpers or other obstacles reminiscent of other classic pinball games. Natural objects such as rivers and hills, along with man made objects such as buildings and dams make up the obstacles that you will bounce your ball off of. On the whole, the level designs appear well composed and have a nice ‘natural’ look to them.

Graphics: The graphics are not the best you that you will see on the Gamecube. The character models look a little blocky. Things as a whole seem slightly blurry from afar. The graphics are not terrible though. All of the elements you deal with on the playfield are rather small and that might contribute to the lack of detail.

Sound: Nothing special about the sound. There is a Japanese voice over narration that sounds like it was performed well (it is accompanied by subtitles). There is no background music to speak of. Most of the sounds you here come from the characters on the playfield in the form of grunts, screams, or yells. There is the occasional sound effect you hear when crushing a building, hitting your bell, or when the Odama rolls over a special item.

Over all, while the graphics were nothing special and the sound even less so, the game is enjoyable. It can be difficult though and may get very frustrating at times. This is a title I would recommend that you rent before you buy.

Take this innovation out for a spin at least once!

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