Review

OlliOlli

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OlliOlli is a new indie game for PS Vita from UK studio Roll7. It’s essentially a 2D skateboarding title featuring the addictive combo-based gameplay of the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater series with the demanding timing of a platformer such as Sonic the Hedgehog 2.

What You Need to Know

OlliOlli employs a simple control scheme which uses only the X button along with the shoulder and directional buttons. To launch tricks or grind objects you simply press different combinations on the D-pad while the shoulder buttons will rotate your board either left or right. To string a combo together you’ll need to combine tricks with grinding on rails and then press X just before your skateboard hits the ground to get a ‘Perfect’ landing. If your timing is a bit off you’ll either stumble or get a poor landing rating which will reduce your combo score. If you happen to wipe out you’ll be reset to the beginning of the level so you’ll want to stay on your board and make it to the end of each stage in order to obtain the highest possible score.

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What’s New?

There may be other 2D skateboarding games out there with a similar concept to OlliOlli but I personally haven’t heard of them. What makes the game unique is its emphasis on grinding which makes it somewhat akin to a platformer at times. You’ll need to carefully time your jumps between rails and other grindable objects to avoid making contact with uneven surfaces such as stairs, while also paying attention to landings and ensuring that you have enough speed to jump over gaps and other obstacles. Timing is also crucial to the speed at which you grind so if there’s a large gap between rails then you’ll need to ensure that you press the buttons required to perform a particular grind just before you make contact with the rail.

What’s the Same?

Many skateboarding games require you to perform various objectives in order to unlock new levels and OlliOlli is no different. In Career mode you can move onto the next Amateur level simply by reaching the cheering crowd waiting at the end of each stage, but to unlock the Pro version of these levels you’ll need to complete the five objectives associated with each one. These range from achieving a particular combo score to getting through an entire level without grinding even once. There’s a good variety to these objectives and achieving some of them can take dozens of tries before you experience the immense satisfaction of getting it just right.

You’ll Enjoy OlliOlli If You Liked…

… The Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater series. Just like this classic franchise, stringing together combos is one of the most important elements in OlliOlli, especially if you want to be among the top percentile on the game’s leaderboards.

… The Skate series. Rather than having to press a sequence of face buttons to perform tricks, OlliOlli employs a minimalist control scheme whereby complex tricks and grinds can be achieved simply by moving the left analog stick in different directions.

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What I Liked

5.) OlliOlli’s minimalist soundtrack matches its simplistic visuals but certainly helps to create a feeling of Zen when you’re in the zone.

4.) The game features a Daily Grind challenge which gives you only one crack at getting a high score on a randomly selected ‘spot’ per day. You can practice as much as you like but once you attempt the run for real you’ll need to step up to the plate in a big way or suffer disappointment.

3.) OlliOlli’s sound effects are surprisingly advanced for a low-budget indie release. Hearing the din of the crowd growing steadily louder as you approach each level’s end section really makes you focus on stringing those last few combos together and rounding them off with a Perfect landing.

2.) The game’s control scheme makes good use of the PS Vita’s stick and button layout by allowing you to perform more complex tricks and grinds with the analog stick and simpler tricks with the D-pad.

1.) At its best OlliOlli will keep you thoroughly absorbed for long periods of time and that “just one more try” mentality which drives the most addictive games couldn’t be more apt in this case.

Favourite Moment

It took me a few minutes to get to grips with OlliOlli’s control scheme and combo system but once I had overcome this hurdle I quickly became addicted to its satisfying blend of timing, skill and strategy.

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What I Didn’t Like

4.) The game seems to have been designed for a far bigger screen than the PS Vita’s as the tininess of the skateboarder began to work on my eyes after awhile.

3.) It would be great if you could share replays with your PSN friends or view those of the top OlliOlli players in the world but sadly this feature is missing.

2.) Another missing feature which would potentially have made this game an instant classic is a level editor which would allow you to share your creations with the OlliOlli community. Hopefully this is added via a free patch or DLC but I wouldn’t count on it with Roll7 being such a small studio.

1.) The game crashes a lot. I didn’t play a single session where I wasn’t kicked out to the PS Vita’s home screen due to some unknown error.

Least Favourite Moment

One of the worst experiences in OlliOlli is when you get your timing wrong at the beginning of a horizontal grind and watch your skateboarder come to a stop with many meters of the rail still remaining. In this case you have the option to trick off the rail and pick up a bit of speed by landing a new grind with perfect timing but sadly this type of scenario ends in misery more often than not.



What’s Extra?

Once you’ve completed all the challenges associated with the fifty Amateur and Pro levels available in Career mode you unlock RAD mode which offers an ultra difficult way to play existing levels where only Perfect landings and grinds count. Besides this mode, there’s the aforementioned Daily Grind mode which undoubtedly fosters fierce rivalry between the best players in the world on a regular basis. Every level also has a much shorter, remixed version called a ‘Spot’ which stacks up your high score against the rest of the OlliOlli community.

The Bottom Line

OlliOlli is one of the most enjoyable and addictive indie games to arrive on PS Vita in a long time. Its gameplay has all the right ingredients to make it an instant classic but sadly it’s missing the kind of modes which would’ve elevated it to this status.


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