OlliOlli is a 2D sidescrolling skateboarding game where you have to perform skateboard tricks for sick and gnarly scores. The name of the game, obviously, comes from the name of the skateboarding trick, the Ollie, and you have to make your way across various bits of urban jungle in search of the best scores and the grooviest moves. I don my helmet and kneepads, grab my board, and prepare to gleam the cube.
While OlliOlli has been available on other platforms for a while, this is the first time it’s appeared on the 3DS and the Wii U. Happily, the game is Cross-Buy, so buying one will net you the other for free. While the look of OlliOlli is fairly simplistic (no huge graphical leaps here), the game is deceptively complex. The controls sound simple enough: forward momentum with A, tricks and jumps with the left stick, and trick modifiers with the L and R buttons. You have one life. What can go wrong?
Many, many faceplants. That’s what can go wrong. It’s glorious. And in your quest for the perfect score, it will happen a lot. And “a lot” is a serious understatement about how much time you’ll spend falling before the your fingers get used to the idea. Cerebrally, it’s easy to understand. It was convincing my fingers to play fair that was difficult.
For example, you’ll start a grind on a rail, jump from there across a set of stairs, land a sick jump onto a staircase handrail, and completely fudge up the landing. Joyfully, getting back into the groove is fast and simple. Each stage in the game has 5 objectives, whether it be scoring a certain amount or performing a certain number of tricks or combos. You can’t progress to the harder levels until you’ve cleared all the objectives in the level, although simply getting to the end of the stage will count as a cleared stage.
If the regular courses aren’t challenge enough for you, there’s also the Daily Grind mode, which pits you against players around the world to score the highest on a particular level. The levels change every 24 hours, and the five highest scores are showcased. The nice things about Daily Grind is that you can practice the level as much as you want, but then you only get one shot at setting your record-breaking score. Or not. And then there are also Spots, which is just you trying to go for as high a score as possible in a small space. It’s something to add to the already-crazy challenge in the game, and between all this, you’ll have your hands well full.
What I love about OlliOlli is that the game doesn’t baby you. Once you’ve cleared the tutorials (and even the damned tutorials can be hard!) you’re set free to fly or faceplant as you see fit. OlliOlli is as much a game of finger dexterity and deftness as it is about getting a high score. Because each course is short, it’s a challenge to try and rack up the points in the space you’re given. Just getting those grinds perfect and those landings sick is enough of a learning curve, but it’s the kind of curve that you need if you want to progress.
That being said, the game is fairly limited, and while good for short bursts of gaming, you’ll find it a hard push to manage marathon play sessions with OlliOlli. It’s fun, sure, just not THAT much fun. The limited trick book means that you won’t be practising for days just to get that one trick right. There are 5 settings and 10 stages in each setting, but backgrounds aside, the stages start looking a little samey.
Still, there’s a lot of gameplay here for the price, and I can guarantee that once you’ve passed the initial learning curve, you’ll be at this game for a while, even if it’s in short bursts. Between the main stages, the Spots, the Daily Grind, and the Rad levels, there’s plenty to keep you entertained for a while. I wouldn’t go so far as to call OlliOlli the best thing to happen to gaming, but it’s certainly the best thing to happen to skating games. And yes…every faceplant is utterly, utterly glorious.
Final Score: 8 Nollie Prawns out of 10
Port by: Curve Digital
Platform: Nintendo 3DS Family (reviewed), PlayStation family, Steam, Xbox One
RRP: R120 (Nintendo eShop), R149 (PlayStation Store), $12.99 (Steam), R129 (Xbox Marketplace)
Age Rating: 3+