But it's manageable, if just barely. Getting the basics of the control down is surprisingly doable - within an hour you should be set. Even so, the game's way too hard. It's stacked against you: hordes of enemy soldiers constantly rush into battle, power-ups appear and disappear randomly, horsemen disable your flippers (which leads quickly and unavoidably to death) and each level has a time limit. That's not even counting the fact that it's simply tough to see everything that's going on, and difficult to steer the Odama even when you can. And sometimes it's purely down to luck - which you certainly can't control. You're simply going to lose much, much more often than you win.
That in mind, clever ideas abound in Odama. Everything on the battlefield, from enemy battlements, to generals, to troops, gates and pulleys works with one another - and your voice and your ball. It's not the best strategy game, and it's not the best pinball game, but it's an oddly addictive blend. No, Odama is not a great pinball game - there are many better straight simulations of that classic arcade experience of lights, bumpers and gravity. There are also, obviously, superior strategy games - the GameCube's Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance springs quickly to mind.
So why play Odama? A few types of gamers will be interested. Those who make purchases based on quirk rather than quality have already slapped money down on the counter. Gamers who crave a challenge, whether or not it's a fair one, will be hooked on Odama's difficulty. And, of course, GameCube die-hards, sadly enough, are pretty much forced to take what they can get these days.