Pin It
Favorite

The Player 

by Marty Demarest & r & & r & Brain Age; Rated Everyone 10 +; Nintendo Gamecube & r & & lt;span class= "dropcap " & T & lt;/span & he name Odama, loosely translated from Japanese, means "Sir Ball." Not a pretentious official title like Sir Elton John, but one designating clout, like Sir Mix-A-Lot. It's a name that implies swagger and strength, and it's perfect for the title weapon in Odama: a ball the size of a house. Launched by cannon, the Odama zigzags violently across battlefields. It plows through battalions of soldiers, rolling away with screaming men stuck to its surface. It smashes towers to pieces. It rebounds off mountainsides and barrels down valleys. I'd call it Sir too.


This & uuml;ber-ball is my greatest weapon as I lead a clan of 16th-century Japanese rebels across 11 different battlefields -- er, pinball tables. The Odama is, of course, the ball. My flippers are gigantic but standard and are operated by a bunch of sweaty, shirtless slaves. There is no game score; there is my army, which I must preserve from one battle to another. And when I tilt the table, the earth rolls beneath my soldiers' feet.


Much of this is historically inaccurate, of course. Nobody played pinball in Japan during the 1500s. But the goal of Odama -- to overcome in battle, subdue nations, and bring home spoils with infinite manslaughter -- has a long precedent in the real world. By using the chaos of pinball, Odama highlights the spirit of war better than many micromanagement-filled wargames. And in a particularly brilliant touch, the game's designer, Yoot Saito, has incorporated a microphone. Instead of pressing buttons to direct my troops, I simply command them to "press forward," or "march right," and (clever soldiers) they respond in Japanese. They might also ignore me if they're hungry, making Odama the first pinball game in which the table stages a mutiny.


Although Saito says that there is no real historical precedent for a weapon like the Odama, it's hard not to think of gunpowder. Indeed the name Odama could also mean 'the age of Oda,' referring to Oda Nobunaga, the first samurai to successfully use gunpowder, which reached Japan during the years in which Odama is set. Between the game's historical details and its story of honorable conquest, there's a strong sense that Odama is ultimately about being the samurai with the biggest ball.





THE GOOD: Yoot Saito, Odama's designer, is one of the world's most creative videogame artists. His games (Seaman, SimTower) tend to be set in sealed environments, with players kept outside by aquarium walls, office doors, and pinball glass. As a result, the games become about influencing the action indirectly. It's a rare form of gameplay in an era of first-person immersion. But Saito's agile imagination makes it compelling enough to invigorate even the dust-gathering GameCube.





THE BAD: The controls are so unique and complex that the early stages of Odama are devoted to mastering them. These inescapable tutorial levels are boring, even for a pinball fanatic, and before the game finally moves to mountains with flippers scattered around their bases, or long village lanes waiting to be rolled through, the game has begun to overstay its welcome.





THE BOTTOM LINE: A blazingly original pinball game topped with strategic warfare and crazy Japanese monsters, Odama unfortunately runs out of steam before it can truly run amok.

  • Pin It

Latest in News

  • In Their Best Interest
  • In Their Best Interest

    Why many neglected kids don't have legal representation for critical decisions that could dictate their future
    • Feb 23, 2017
  • 'Right Side of History'
  • 'Right Side of History'

    The Washington Supreme Court rules against Arlene's Flowers; plus, two dogs call it a day
    • Feb 23, 2017
  • Frozen Out
  • Frozen Out

    In the middle of a chaotic winter, the city of Spokane ousted its veteran street director, but won't give an explanation to the city council
    • Feb 23, 2017
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Manufacturing Fear
  • Manufacturing Fear

    Spokane's Republican sheriff says members of his own party are dangerously dividing people
    • Aug 12, 2015
  • Better Call Colleen
  • Better Call Colleen

    Meet Washington state's new assistant attorney general leading the charge for civil rights
    • Dec 17, 2015
  • Patrolling While Black
  • Patrolling While Black

    Gordon Grant's nearly 30 years as a Spokane cop have been affected by race, but that's not the whole story
    • Jul 8, 2015

Comments


Comments are closed.

Today | Fri | Sat | Sun | Mon | Tue | Wed
Mammoths & Mastodons: Titans of the Ice Age

Mammoths & Mastodons: Titans of the Ice Age @ Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture

Tuesdays-Sundays. Continues through May 7

All of today's events | Staff Picks

More by n/a

  • Iron Upgrade
  • Iron Upgrade

    The new one is smart and funny and action-packed, and it’s bigger and better and sleeker. And Downey does it again, this time ramping up Stark’s arrogant wisecracking, telling anyone who’ll listen (mostly women) that, via the creation of his powerful Iron Man suit, he’s brought years of uninterrupted peace to the world.
    • May 12, 2010
  • Seeing Gay
  • Seeing Gay

    A festival showing GLBT from all angles
    • Nov 9, 2009
  • Get Out the Vote
  • Get Out the Vote

    With all the uncertainty in the world these days, hot wings and cold beer are two things we can get behind
    • Nov 9, 2009
  • More »

Most Commented On

  • We Have Not Yet Begun to Fight

    Why we're filling the streets to protest Trump's inhumane, dangerous policies
    • Feb 2, 2017
  • Obscene Gestures

    Spokane political party leaders hope to harness post-election passion into civil discourse. But so far, there's only been more strife
    • Feb 9, 2017
  • More »

Top Tags in
News & Comment

briefs


green zone


marijuana


Comment


do something


Readers also liked…

  • Patrolling While Black
  • Patrolling While Black

    Gordon Grant's nearly 30 years as a Spokane cop have been affected by race, but that's not the whole story
    • Jul 8, 2015
  • Seven Ways Drought is Impacting the Inland Northwest
  • Seven Ways Drought is Impacting the Inland Northwest

    No, it's not as bad as in California, but drought is taking a hefty toll
    • Jul 29, 2015
  • The Syrian
  • The Syrian

    One family from Syria has found welcoming arms in Spokane, and many others may follow
    • Sep 24, 2015

© 2017 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation