I've got one large ball and I know how to use it.
Odama is by far and away the most unusual game at Nintendo’s booth this year. Tucked away in a quiet corner amidst display cases featuring authentic samurai armor and a 16th century katana on loan from a museum in Kyoto, Odama defies conventional labeling. Essentially, it is a fusion of real-time strategy and pinball. Yes, I said pinball. Set in feudal Japan, the goal of the game is to advance your army up the screen and take down the enemy warlord.
The screen on the demo level was divided into to sections by a horizontal river. On the bottom of the screen you have an aimable cannon to fire the Odama, a pair of stone flippers mapped to the shoulder buttons, and your army facing off across the river with the enemy infantry. The enemy forces on the top half of the screen also include three archer towers and two gongs which signal the cavalry troops. At the beginning of the game you fire the Odama with the A button and control it using the flippers.
The Odama itself is a large, stone boulder which pulverizes anything in its path, including your own troops. The first order of business is to dam the river by destroying a water wheel on the right side of the screen. This allows both armies to engage. Using the
c-stick you can order your troops to advance or retreat. You’ll need to keep the Odama in play at all times, using it to bowl over the enemy and knock down those towers, either individually or with a domino effect. Both the towers and the water wheel are rebuilt in a short amount of time so you’ll need to keep a close eye on them to prevent your troops from getting drowned or shot. Should you hit one of the gongs you’ll trigger the enemy cavalry who do massive amounts of damage to your troops and your warlord at the bottom of the screen.
Your warlord’s life is represented by a bar across the bottom of the screen. If you lose all your life, or three balls, the game is over. Sounds simple, right? It isn’t. The enemy warlord is on top of a plateau, so you can’t just march straight up to him. Once you achieve a foothold across the river you can send out a small brigade carrying a ladder with the B button. You must protect the ladder at all costs, but you have a very small and finite army facing unlimited opposition. But all is not lost.
The Odama has special properties which you can use to your advantage. By holding the X button you can infuse your life-force into the Odama, which not only prevents it from hurting your troops but also allows it convert enemy troops to your side. Of course, if you rely on this too much you’ll deplete your life bar pretty quickly. Control of the Odama is vital. By using the control stick you can tilt the screen to the left or right, allowing you to “steer” in the appropriate direction.
All in all, Odama is quirky and unique, but it’s also a lot of fun.