At first, this game strikes you as strange in that typically weird-Japanese-game way. After all, Odama is billed as some sort of strange strategy game that lets you command soldiers assaulting an enemy fortress, while you control a giant rolling ball that destroys everything its path. If it were that game, I'd have been happy to play it. Sadly, all Odama turns out to be is a slightly strange pinball game with so-so graphics that comes with a microphone. Oh, and don't think about renting it without the microphone, it is required for gameplay.
The objective is simple. Assault the enemy fortress and capture it, using an artifact bell carried by a team of your servants. Protecting them will be your army, and backing up your army will be your Odama, the giant ball for which the game was named. You'll control the Odama using a pair of paddles, and you can tilt the entire board for a little additional advantage' even though the board is supposed to be a large parcel of land in ancient Japan. Along the way you'll use the Odama to collect powerups and strike various pieces of terrain to produce special level-specific effects. Finally, once the thrill of not-controlling a giant pinball wears off, you'll need to use the microphone to issue orders to your troops, allowing them to advance across the battlefield using a variety of strategies. The microphone is crucial to gameplay because you use it to issue the commands to move into the enemy gate. If you don't have one, you can't order your bell carriers to charge in, and thus can't capture the fortress and end the level.
Summary? Yeah, it's pinball. With troops. And the possibility of crushing defenses and defenders under your pinball. Woo. Read my excitement. It's there, honest.
Graphically, Odama doesn't get high marks. I honestly can't tell if the game renders a lot of material on screen at once or just that it wasn't designed that well, but there's not much here worth staring at. In terms of audio there's less to discuss, as all I can remember since playing is a strange, seemingly constipated Japanese man yelling in my ear. That and some ringing, but mostly the weird Japanese guy.
My insane commentary aside, here's the bottom line. Odama is a sheep in wolf's clothing. If it were truly weird, and perhaps a bit simpler, it could've been really fun. As it is, I feel like I'm playing the umpteenth reskin of an old pinball game that I picked up in the bargain bin. It's a laugh for a rental, since you get to squash whole units of enemy soldiers, but I'd still spend my money elsewhere.