When Tamagotchi first debuted, the idea spread like wildfire -- apply a limited artificial intelligence to a virtual creature.
With the obvious breeds (Catz and Dogz) already covered, it was inevitable that fantasy creatures would be turned into virtual pets. Thus, the creation of Oddballz: Your Collectible Computer Petz for all those folks who are neither cat or dog lovers.
Oddballz are more reminiscent of goofy cartoon characters than anything else and this resemblance is reinforced by the silly sounds the creatures make. They have an undeniably freakish appeal. There is a wide variety of Oddballz with more "hidden" creatures that can be collected from websites.
Some examples include the cheerful Dynaroo, a combination between a two-legged dinosaur and a kangaroo, the platypus-like Honker with a horn for a nose, the chatterbox Lips who looks like a weird little monkey dressed up as a mime and Modvark, an aardvark with a great sense of style. Quadrapus is the freakiest looking of the bunch with four limbs and not much else, Walret is a walrus-like beast with eyestalks who also happens to be dumb as rocks and Zott is a weird cross between an ant and a lightning bug. He's definitely the most high-strung of the Oddballz!
Oddballz personalities actually change as they age -- younger creatures are more inquisitive and more easily frightened than more mature ones. They react in a cartoon-like fashion to their surroundings and different objects appear over their heads to communicate their feelings. Oddballz are extremely sensitive to colors and will react more positively or negatively to certain hues.
Each one of the creatures has a unique personality and special tricks learned over time. You can train your Oddballz using the character or stick method: they can be awarded grubs, which run haphazardly around the screen until the pet gobbles them up, or given "locopops" (bouncing lollipops that make Oddballz even nuttier) that come in a variety of flavors. Oddballz eat "liquifood" for sustenance, a sort of goopy-looking Jello.
For owners who prefer a sterner method of training these odd beasts, the Gravity Ball can be dropped -- it scares the daylights out of the Oddballz and reinforces the unacceptability of certain behavior. Be careful not to drop it directly on the poor Oddballz or it will splatter them to the four-corners of your screen! The more direct approach is to freeze them with your sno-blaster and incapacitate them for a short time.
Oddballz can also be picked up like a cat or, for particularly mean owners, shaken. Shake them too much, though, and the creature may well explode. For entertainment, you can turn the lights out to see what your Oddballz do in the dark. They can play a "go fetch" game with the atomic ball (which has some strange effects of its own) and the Gravitron drags Oddballz and everything else on the screen to it.
Other features of play include the pop box that plays funky music that can be customized by the owner and, depending on the song, Oddballz will sing and dance to the beat. Then there's the Robo-Pogo, a strange pogo stick that some Oddballz use to hop around on and, finally, a transforming ray gun that turns the creatures into even weirder things.
There's also a screenshot function that allows you to take pictures of Oddballz in action. This feature isn't particularly innovative since pressing Alt + Print Scrn does the same thing but is handy for users who aren't Windows savvy. Additionally, the screensaver module showcases the little monsters at their best (and worst). Oddballz: Your Collectible Computer Petz provides hours of fun but they're not for everybody.
Graphics: Oddballz are basically a series of polygons strung together. This sometimes makes for disjointed movement, as limbs and eyeballs seem to float almost independently of the creatures themselves. However, the feature is used to great effect when Oddballz are squished -- their eyeballs go scuttling around the screen until the Oddballz can pick them up and pop them back in their heads (it's not nearly as disgusting as it sounds).
Sound: Oddballz sing, burp, fart and chatter to themselves. They can sound grumpy or happy and each makes a distinct series of noises. The sound is a large part of their personality.
Enjoyment: Oddballz are undeniably amusing.
Replay Value: By far the most entertaining part of Oddballz: Your Collectible Computer Petz is the ability to collect them. Like beanie babies, there are more Oddballz on the web that can be downloaded as "Eggz" and hatched. Discovering the secret talents of the Oddballz is half the fun.
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