Game Review: OlliOlli

Jonathan Szafran delivers his verdict on fast, furious and fun skateboarding sim OliiOlli, available on the digital store for PS Vita.

OlliOlli

There is a trailer for OlliOlli that states that players should try not to slam on their face in the game – before slyly adding that they will slam on their face. Is OlliOlli tough? It is, but not as punishing as games like Dark Souls and Super Meat Boy can be. Skateboarding is meant to be an expression of creativity, and after a short tutorial and a somewhat bland amateur mode, OlliOlli opens up to reveal a fun and creative skateboarding experience.

OlliOlli is a mixture of side-scroller, Tony Hawk Pro Skater’s challenges and Skate’s analog controls. It’s all about having a great run through each level, with high combos and perfect landings on the cement. Skate as far as you can, as fast as you can while racking up the biggest and coolest combos along the way. But it won’t always be that easy, as the difficulty ramps up quickly and tougher obstacles will appear without warning. Making it to the end of each stage will depend on your skill and reaction time.

Each level scrolls to the right and that leaves the player to concentrate on pulling off amazing tricks. Holding the left stick in any direction before a jump will pull off an air trick, and if there is a rail nearby holding down on the same stick will allow you to grind. You’ll find yourself in an almost zen-like state sometimes; moving from rail to rail pulling off crazy tricks along the way.

Holding either of the Vita’s shoulder buttons will rotate the skater in the air and the x button is used for not only pushing off for momentum but for landing perfectly. Right before you hit the ground hit that x button and your skater’s board will glow green, to let you know you did it perfectly. The trick system is not as in depth as Tony Hawk’s games or Skate, and it will take time to get used to its controls, but OlliOlli will reward you for that time spent.

Slip ups will end your run and with OlliOlli’s quick restart button you’ll be back at it a moment later. You’ll be hitting that button a lot as the frustration of not hitting that jump or rail the way you wanted or not landing that perfect combo comes quickly. Playing it safe in some areas of a level is a good idea until you get more comfortable with the controls and wipe that sweat from your hands and brow. Going big each time may sound like fun, but a lot of later levels require precision and patience and getting to the end of those levels with the crowds cheering is a fantastic feeling.

OlliOlli is best played in short bursts and the Spot and Daily Grind modes lend themselves perfectly to that. Each consist of one level that you can play over and over until you get a great score then upload that score to the leaderboards to see how well you’ve done. The career mode can be a grind at times and is not the best way to try out the trick list. The visuals are reminiscent of Canabalt with a little more graphical touches than that game. The soundtrack is excellent and varied enough to have me waiting to hear what the next track would be. I hope OlliOlli gets a sequel and developer Roll 7 has a chance to flesh out this game’s potential. But for now, OlliOlli is something that all Vita owners should enjoy and that is a great, technical skateboarding game.

FMV Rating: ***1/2

 



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