Thanks to Activision milking of the Tony Hawk franchise, skateboard games are as dead as guitar games (thanks again Activision). Not even the quality Skate franchise was enough to bring back the genre back from the dead. Developer Roll7 is going to try their hand at bring back skateboarding games with their PS Vita title, OlliOlli.
BACK TO THE STREETS
I Need Just One More Try - The beauty of OlliOlli is that it’s quick and simple to play. If you’re familiar with the endless runner games for mobile phones, you’ll see a similarity here. You need to go from left to right to reach the end of the stage by jumping gaps, grinding on everything, and avoiding obstacles. With only aerial tricks and grinds available, you’ll need to combo one trick into another so that you can get a higher score. There’s also an extra step needed to complete a trick. To get the full points from a trick, you need to hit X right when you land. Pressing it too late or not pressing it at all will result in a “sloppy” landing and your points will be reduced significantly.
There are five different stages that have five different levels. Each level takes maybe a minute to finish, and your run is down once you crash which can happen if you hit an obstacle, don’t land correctly while spinning, and when you lose your momentum while grinding. The levels have five challenges and once you complete the challenges, you unlock a harder version of the stage where the challenges are even tougher. That’s 25 stages with three different difficulties giving you 75 different levels.
With the levels being so quick and so different, along with how easily you can crash, you immediately want to jump back into the game. You’ll give yourself the “Ok, going to try this one more time. Shit! That doesn’t count! One more time.” I found it hard to put down my Vita because all I needed was a minute, but then I needed another and another and another. Because OlliOlli is so quick and easy to play, you’ll find yourself wanting to keep on playing for just a minute more. That’s why it’s not a surprise that this game was originally intended for release on iOS because it fits that mobile game formula perfectly where it’s all about small moments of enjoyment.
Thanks for Letting Me Start Over Quickly - Because you can crash so easily, I’m talking within seconds of starting a level, Roll7 gave players an easy restart button. It’s up on the top left and you can hit it as soon as you start the level. So if you know that you’re going to crash or you screwed up a challenge then you can quickly restart without even waiting to see the results. It’s convenient and makes starting over less of an annoyance.
I Don’t Know This Song, But I Like It - The music of OlliOlli is a mix of jazz, electronica and some other styles of music. It’s all instrumental and it can go from fairly chill music to some high-energy beats. I really enjoyed a lot of the music even though I have no clue who the artists are. Sometimes a game soundtrack doesn’t need recognizable artists or songs, but rather music that fits with the mood of the game which is what we have with OlliOlli.
WHAT A GRIND
Really? That Didn't Work? - Doing an aerial trick is kind of like pulling off a move in Street Fighter. Pressing the Dpad or analog stick in one of the four direction will pull off a basic trick. For more complex tricks, then you’ll need to start at one of the four directions and then move in a quarter circle, half circle, or three-quarters circle to do a different trick. Obviously the bigger the motion will mean a harder trick that will net you some points. On top of all that, you can use the left/right bumpers to spin during the trick.
That said, my issue is that there were many times that I made a motion yet I find myself doing a simple Olli that is the equivalent of doing no trick. It’s a bit frustrating since some of the challenges require a certain trick to be performed. There were also points on certain runs where I tried to do a trick and fell while jumping. I have no clue on how that happened, but that’s just silly. This didn’t happen often, only on certain levels at certain spots. Both of these gripes made doing tricks a little harder than it should be.
Why Do You Need to Connect All the Time? - Something that I find very cool is that there is a daily challenge in the game called the Daily Grind. You can partake in the challenge that consists of one run on one randomly picked level. The scores from the runs from all the players online are then ranked so you can show off your skills. Although I think this is a great idea, what isn’t a great idea is the constant giant message of “DO YOU WANT TO CONNECT TO THE INTERNET?” everytime I turn on my PS Vita after it was put into sleep mode. It’s a minor annoyance that players will get sick of if they play their PS Vita in short bursts throughout the day.
So did OlliOlli bring back the skateboard genre from the dead? In a way, yes. I was reminded of the fun it was to combo tricks together and do whatever you could to get one more trick in, even if meant the possibly of wiping out. The game has a simple presentation, but it works great. There are a couple issues I had with the game, but if there’s an OlliOlli 2, I can see Roll7 getting them taken care of. Hopefully Roll7 won’t let the success of this game get to their head and I have to review OlliOlli 6: Mad Skillz Version three years from now.
*This review was based on the PS Vita version of the game with a review code provided by the developer.