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Odama

Score: 4 out of 5
Published by Nintendo
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Odama is one of those games that's so different from everything else that it's hard to know what to do with it. It's a pinball game that also requires you to move a bell and some troops across the board. It sounds crazy and it is, although it's not really a thrill a minute. The reward takes longer to earn and you have to think about it.

The Odama is really a huge pinball that rolls across the battlefield destroying anything that it rolls over. The Odama gets launched into the battlefield where you can tilt the surface left, right, up or down. There are also two big flippers at the bottom of the screen that you use to send the Odama back into the battlefield when it settles down. In between the flippers emerges a small army and some big men carrying a bell. Your job is to get the bell and the soldiers through the gate on the other side of the battlefield. You do this by destroying enemy fortifications and clearing a path with the ball, and voice command for the soldiers and the men carrying the bell.

Hold down X to use the Nintendo GameCube Mic and issue voice commands to your troops. There are a number of commands. March Left, March Right, Advance, Press Forward, all do what you think they would do. There are some nuances to transporting the bell. You can roll over a heart and then bank the ball off the bell to turn the ball green and convert enemy troops to your side. Also, and this is my favorite, smash the bell with the Odama and send a sound wave at the enemy that renders them confused and unable to defend themselves.

If this sounds simple, then I didn't explain it well enough. It's not simple at all. It's like playing pinball against moving targets and at the same time sending an object across the table with your voice. I really have to pay attention to this game. So it just sucks me in and then I finish a level and realize that I've been playing for half an hour. So either you'll get completely absorbed in the game or you'll think it's too complicated and won't get into it at all. I think it's worth the learning curve and recommend Odama. It's a fine example of the way that Nintendo continues to drive gaming forward through innovation.

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