OlliOlli ReviewReview: The Best Skating Videogame in Years | Fanboys Anonymous

OlliOlli ReviewReview: The Best Skating Videogame in Years

Posted by Unknown Tuesday, January 28, 2014
Playstation Vita's new OlliOlli by Roll7 is an oddity that takes the *very* familiar combo-skating genre and turns it on its head—both in concept and control. OlliOlli abandons the verticality of most mainstream skating games in favor of hops, grinds, and traversal. The unique control scheme takes some getting used to, but once it clicks, the deceptively deep combo system will become your playground, allowing for some truly ludicrous scores. In spite of a few confusing mechanics, OlliOlli is the best skating game in years, and a must-own for the Playstation Vita.

Should I buy OlliOlli

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.

OlliOlli Let's Play walkthrough
While this all sounds simple on paper (the game has all of 3 controls!), playing feels foreign at first. I found myself slipping into old habits and trying to use X to jump, and all-too-frequently I forgot to stick my landing, resulting in a faceplant inches from the finish line. OlliOlli's learning curve is steep—you have to unlearn any skating game you've ever played, because there's nothing quite like this. It wasn't until I spent about 2 hours with OlliOlli that things finally started to make sense and I had a glorious "aha!" moment—I actually said it out loud.

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.

Download free gameplay footage OlliOlli
Collectibles on one of the Junkyard stages.
Unfortunately, not all of the stages evoke such satisfaction. The Base in particular is rather sparse in terms of trickable terrain, and instead requires you to hop over unskateable snow just to make it to the finish. On these levels, the lack of any sort of ground tricks (manuals, etc.) was unpleasantly apparent. I have finished every stage, but I only want to return to half of them in the Spots score attack mode. The tricks and combos feel so good—I wish there were more stages with a focus on amassing a bazillion points instead of on making it to the end.

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.

Leaderboard high scores OlliOlli
Big air.
Perfectly suited to a handheld platform, OlliOlli's replay value is best experienced in bite-sized pieces. While Spots mode is fun and is essentially a score attack, the real attraction here is the Daily Grind. Every day a stage is chosen and available to attempt for 24 hours. Practice as many times as you like, but you only get one (!) shot at a run to post your score. Go as big as you can, but if you mess up, you're out of luck until tomorrow. Practicing and attempting the Daily Grind and trying to top the leaderboards has become a part of my morning routine, and I can't get enough of it.

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.

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