At a glance...

Reviewer Platform Publisher Developer Players
Matt Bailey PS Vita Roll7 Roll7 1
Requirements Also on...
None. Windows, Mac, Linux, PS3 and PS4 (Cross-Buy)

OlliOlli review

It says something about a game that when you sit down and write about it you just want to play it some more. In the weekend after getting OlliOlli from the PlayStation Store, I found myself hooked on a game I had initially dismissed as being too difficult for my clumsy thumbs. It turns out that persistence and practice are key to success in this side-scrolling skateboard title from indie developers Roll7, and after a short while things will start to click.

Hind Grind

Hind Grind

Unless you're one of those people who will sail to the top of the online leaderboards, even when you're well versed you're still going to be spending a lot of time heading for the restart button in the top-right. This is a twitchy game, where accuracy is key and there's very little room for error. Key to the success of every trick you pull off is landing correctly. A short distance off the ground you need to tap the X button to land smoothly, pick up the full set of points, and move on. Press too early, and you can land sketchily losing almost all the points you'd racked up in that combo, and will continue along much slower, which could prove fatal if there's a big jump shortly afterwards. Miss it completely and your skater will fall flat on his face and there's no choice but to go back to the start of the level with that big yellow reset button once again. Every complete failure results in a restart, but as it's really quick to do, and the levels are appropriately sized, it's less frustrating than it sounds, and it's a familiar reflex for anyone who has played Hotline Miami.

While the try-fail-try-fail-ad nauseam mechanic is similar to Hotline Miami, the visual design evokes another indie classic, Canabalt. OlliOlli has a similar 'flat' look with dynamic backgrounds. Objects and characters are made up of a small number of pixels, but it does feature a lot more colour, and there's a lot of variety across the five different locations. While Canabalt is the grandfather of modern side-scrolling endless platformers, OlliOlli is actually more structured, with crafted levels which only take a couple of minutes to complete if you do them perfectly, but in reality will take a lot longer as you try to master the different tricks they have up their sleeves.

I'm not sure he's going to make this gap

I'm not sure he's going to make this gap

With no mid-level checkpoints, making it all the way through a level in OlliOlli is a challenge in itself, but each level also features five objectives to complete. Two are always a total score challenge and a target score for a single combo, but the other three can be more flexible and offer up some interesting alternatives to the usual flow of tricks and the quest to reach the end. Complete all of these and you get the 'Pro' version of the level, with enhanced difficulty and five bolder challenges. If you can tick these off, then there's a 'Rad' version too, to really test your skills. If you're better at pulling off amazing combos than sustaining your skills over a whole level, then each stage also has a 'Spot' where you compete on online high score boards for the best single-combo score in a select area. If you don't succomb to pressure easily, then the Daily Challenge gives you a single level each day where you have just one chance to post your best score on the internet. You can perform as many dry runs as you like, but the only score that counts is your one-shot entry. In a game where the yellow restart button becomes so familiar, its removal adds an exciting twist on the action.

Between the regular levels, the Spots, and the Daily Challenge, OlliOlli is naturally set up for online competition, but at the moment this is unfortunately limited. Anyone connected to PSN has their best scores posted to the servers, and on the menus you can see who is currently topping the list and your position on the leaderboard. Right now though, you can't browse the list to see how far away you are from moving up, or see how you compare with your friends. It's a missed opportunity that Roll7 are thankfully planning to correct in a future patch.

Part of your 5-a-day

Part of your 5-a-day

By avoiding storylines, licensed soundtracks and free-roaming in cities, OlliOlli successfully demonstrates the most enjoyable elements of a skateboarding game; the ability to pull off impressive tricks and high scoring combs with just a few flicks of the thumb and some well-timed button presses. It's also a highly enjoyable high-score-seeking and try-die-repeat game that all PS Vita owners should try.

Ratings

Overall OlliOlli may appear frustrating, but it quickly becomes a highly addictive adventure to secure a perfect run on the variety of well-crafted skateboarding stages. 9/10

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