Sunday, April 16, 2006

Odama: Level 11

The last level's another boss level, and is a bit taxing to work through. Like the Spider Temple level, there's multiple "boards" here, except there's four, and they're actually open on the sides. Any shot that makes it over the slight invisible hill between the boards will send the ball over there, and this time the screen does *not* automatially scroll to follow it, so I was forced to constantly fumble with the C-stick to chase the ball.

In the center of the playfield, at the top of all the boards, is the enemy fortress, and perched atop it is the gigantic final boss. (Why are the enemy generals in this game so freaking huge?) The fortress has four doorways, one for each table. One of them has a red "X" in front of it, and that's the Bell Team's destination. It seems that all you have to do is get the bell there to win, but this time I made sure to kill the boss before I did it. (It was just worth an extra ball, like the other times.)

The Bell Team will automatically go after that X whenever it can, but when it gets close to the fortress the boss will hop down and kick the bell onto one of the other tables! The Bell will usually end up near the flippers on that side of the board, but since all the enemy troops will have congregated at the bell's old location, you probably won't lose the game as a result.

To kill the boss, again, you just need to hit him with the ball and rally on him with your men to inflict damage. Multiple rallys inflict damage faster, and it helps if you can knock him down again as he gets back up. Two hits are usually required to send him to his feet, but the boss is so huge that he's not hard to target, and ringing the bell can also stun him. What's harder is keeping the ball near him, since he can easily travel between boards in his pursuit of the bell, and it's distressingly common to accidently flip the ball onto the wrong board. It helps if you can learn to control the ball with the flippers on the side tables (which are still operable and visible) without having to move the screen there.

The coolest thing about this level is the bonus stage. It's through the door on the "home" table, and you can go there right from the start by launching the ball into the door. The narrator expresses disbelief as you find yourself in modern Kyoto, outside Nintendo headquarters! You can then use the ball to knock over houses and buildings, and store up troops for the fight.

Time back on the battlefield is frozen while you're there, and you can come back any time you like just by going through the right door. There is no timer here either, nor is there a Bell or any troops to worry about. You're free to spend as long as you want using the permanently-green ball to convert citizens into troops for your army. (They say things like "Where am I going?" and "Yay! I'm a soldier now!" as you scoop them up.) The flippers are spaced kind of far apart, but it's nothin that can't be overcome by abusing the table tilt, and there still aren't any outlanes.

The quickest way to get troops here is to shoot the ball up the highway ramp on the far right of the screen (it requires a shot off the very tip of the left flipper), then as the ball comes around, it passes by an upper flipper that can be used to capture people passing by and coming out of the Nintendo building. If you miss the ball, you can tilt the table back to the left to try again so long as the train tracks below are still intact. It's easy to accidently crush soldiers in the battle with the boss, so it's probably best to get as many troops as you can, to help keep up morale with reinforcements. One nice touch: the citizens you capture in Kyoto sometimes show up in the battle wearing their modern clothes.

So what happens when you get the Bell through the last gate? You get a fairly cool ending, and what sounds like it could almost pass for a James Bond credits song, and it opens up Free Play mode, allowing access to any of the levels at any time. Unfortunately, to start a new "for real" game, you have to abandon the Free Play option, which sucks.


JohnH said...

Two hits are usually required to send him to his feet

To get him OFF his feet, sorry.

Dan-o said...

So, many months later, I finally picked this game up, on sale for $25. I wrapped it up this weekend (and yes, levels 4, Spider Temple, and the final level were quite difficult).

All in all, I'm glad I got the chance to play it. It's unique and more entertaining that the Gamespot/IGN reviewers would have you believe. However, in the end, it felt like the "perfect rental" (since you get a pretty good feel for it after only spending a few hours with it, and it's short with little replayability)...except it's nearly impossible to rent because of the microphone (Gamefly, as an example, doesn't carry it due to this). Wacky.