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OlliOlli (PS4) Review

/ Sep 5th, 2014 No Comments

OlliOlli

The skateboarding genre has been long dormant. Both the Skate and Tony Hawk series were ended after 2010 due to diminishing returns both critically and commercially. It has been several years since a game gave players an opportunity to perform sick tricks and sweet grinds.

Not surprisingly, it took an independent developer to breathe some life into the dead genre. OlliOlli is a 2D side-scroller from developer Roll7 where players skate through challenging levels.

Skate or Die

Skate or die is all there is to OlliOlli. Well, more accurately, skate or suffer serious, life-altering injuries. OlliOlli features a short tutorial section to give players a chance to get a grip on the game’s particular quirks, but players are mainly thrown right into the thick of things.

The mechanics are simple. Players pick up speed by pressing X to push off. Only two pushes are necessary to reach full speed. Tricks are performed by using basic directional movements with the left stick, or various degrees of circles (like a fighting game). Tricks require timing must use all button inputs and let off before reaching an edge. Failure results in scrapes and broken limbs.
 

OlliOlli

Ollies, man. Ollies.

Landing tricks also requires good timing as hitting X at the improper time can turn a glorious combo into garbage. Press X too early and the trick will be labeled “Sketchy” or just “OK.” The sweet spot is in the “Sick” or “Perfect” range.

“Perfect” tricks have better recovery time, which is important when playing through more complex levels. Getting this lauded score happens by landing tricks closer to the ground. The closer you are to the ground before hitting X, the better the score.
 

OlliOlli

Sloppy tricks usually end poorly and painfully.

Similar to tricks, grinds are performed with simple direction flicks. However, players need to hold down the direction to continue grinding. Letting go allows gamers to perform a new trick or grind. In the case of “Perfect” grinds, players gain a speed bonus, which is important when trying to increase scores.

By using advanced tricks and grinds effectively, players can rack up high scores, a necessity when trying to tackle pro levels. Learning the layout of various tracks and how “Perfect” tricks and grinds behave will make you a soul skater with impressive scores.

Soul Skater

The game has five different areas split into two rankings: Amateur and Pro. Amateur levels are much less strenuous and take a more straightforward approach. This changes as gamers progress and unloc new levels. Level complexity builds slowly with simple obstacles. However, more and more obstacles are layered in as new levels are unlocked, requiring players to use more precision.
 

OlliOlli

That score is “Sick,” but not sick enough to complete that single trick score challenge.

Each level features five challenges, two of which are usually high level and single trick scores. Generally, each level requires that players land a specific trick with a “Perfect” rating. Using the handy Tricktionary will help in completing this goal. The other two are level specific, including tasks such as grinding a radioactive purple dinosaur or gapping a helicopter.

Challenges are what makes OlliOlli so addictive. Its aracde gameplay draws players in immediately, but the challenges make them want to continue playing. Pulling off a combo gives players a sense of accomplishment, especially in later levels. Challenges will have you jamming on the retry button, which is niftly mapped to the touchpad.
 

OlliOlli

Neon City is the most visually striking area in the game.

It is no surprise that pro levels remain locked out until players complete all five challenges in amateur mode. If you can’t complete five challenges as an amateur, there is no chance you will be able to hang at the upper echelon. It adds another depth to challenges by rewarding players with additional levels to tackle. Pro levels are spiritually similar to their corresponding amateur levels, but more challenging. Levels also feature five challenges to complete, but they are even more demanding than amateur challenges.

Overall

OlliOlli captures the spirit and vibrancy of the skateboarding genre without feeling derivative. It feels both familiar and new in its 2D, pixel-based representation of skateboarding. Complete with tight controls, stellar level design and a soundtrack that is spiritually in tune with classic titles, OlliOlli is a fantastic entry into the genre.

 

Kalvin Martinez

Kalvin Martinez

Senior Editor at Gaming Illustrated
Kalvin Martinez studied Creative Writing at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He writes reviews, prose and filthy limericks. While he is Orange County born, he now resides in Portland, OR. He is still wondering what it would be like to work at a real police department. Follow Kalvin on Twitter @freepartysubs
Kalvin Martinez

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OLLIOLLI (PS4) REVIEW

Gaming Illustrated RATING

Overall88%

GAMEPLAY9

OlliOlli combines simplicity and nuance into tight gameplay. Pulling off tricks and grinds is relatively easy, but depth comes in more complex tricks and comboing everything to score big.

GRAPHICS8.5

The five areas are diverse and bursting with personality. The pixel skater may be static, but watching him skate is a delight. There is also a perverse pleasure in seeing him take gnarly dives.

SOUND9

While OlliOlli doesn't have the sublime brilliance of Tony Hawk's Pro Skater's franchise, its smooth soundtrack captures the spirit of skateboarding.