OlliOlli has a noticeably minimalist control scheme, using only one (!) of the Vita's face buttons—push X to gain speed, AKA kick. The game scrolls left-to-right, so there is no need to steer. Instead, the left stick is used to initiate jumps, tricks, and grinds. Holding the stick in any direction will make your skater crouch and prepare. Flick the stick in a different direction, and he'll jump and perform a trick, depending on the directional input. You can also hold L or R in midair to spin in either direction. Finally, you have to stick the landing by pushing X just as you hit the ground.
Once you "get" OlliOlli, you *really* get it—and it feels great. Chaining tricks and grinds endlessly is immensely satisfying, and the game encourages you to push the line between playing it safe and going for just one more trick before landing. OlliOlli is at its best on levels full of jumps and rails, allowing completion of the stage in one death-defying combo. Flicking the control stick, while awkward at first, is a natural gaming parallel to the finesse required to perform a kickflip, and really helps to pull you in.
|Collectibles on one of the Junkyard stages.|
OlliOlli looks good. The backgrounds are pretty enough, and each of the five locations is unique in both look and level design. There is no shortage of terrain and set pieces; you may find yourself grinding a military tank one moment and a giant model dinosaur the next, but the animations are the star of the show. Each trick has been recreated with pixel graphics, and each one looks fantastic. The wipeout animations are even better than the tricks. When you fall—and fall you will—you will be treated to a comically brutal crash that will have you wincing every time.
OlliOlli's unorthodox-but-effective control scheme shows that it's never too late to reinvent the wheel. While certain traversal-focused stages are frustrating and feel out of place, they are eclipsed by the exhilaration of chaining flips, grinds, and spins into an impossible combo that makes a mockery of the laws of physics. If you own a Vita, don't miss OlliOlli.
I am accepting all challengers! Lay down the gauntlet in the comments below, and prepare yourselves for a proper thrashing.