OlliOlli is a neat little skateboarding game released many moons ago on the Vita. The title is now available on the 3DS and the Wii U, and has a cross-buy feature; meaning if you buy it on the 3DS, you can get it for free on the Wii U, or vice versa. Simplistic while also sadistic in nature, OlliOlli has minimalist controls while also asking the player to perform increasingly difficult tasks. Featuring 5 worlds with 10 levels each, OlliOlli provides a decent enough playtime while not overstaying its welcome. And it’s an addicting game, too, considering I am still playing it now.
The main character, seconds away from a faceplant
OlliOlli starts you off with a tutorial right away. You press A to push forward on your board, and only 2 pushes are required for you to be at full speed. You hold the control stick down to prepare for a trick, and flick the stick in a direction to perform it. Tricks range in difficulty, performance-wise: you can flick up, down, left, right, diagonally, quarter circle, half circle, full circle, etc., all in a variety of directions. Once you perform a trick, you must press A as you land to get a good score. Press A too early or too late, and you’ll stumble a bit and get a SLOPPY rating and barely any points; press it just as you land and you’ll get a PERFECT rating and a buttload of points.
The other technique the player learns is grinding on rails, which involves holding the stick in a desired direction as you olli onto one. The trick to getting a PERFECT grind is holding the stick JUST as you land on a rail. In addition to all this, you can spin as you perform tricks using the L or R buttons, adding 180, 360, etc. degrees to your tricks to get even more points. It’s quite simple to learn and ingenious in its ease of use, though if you are like me, you’ll sometimes forget all the directions you can flick your stick in and keep to a few mainstays (which the game frowns upon, seeing as how you get less points if you spam the same tricks over and over).
Switch Laserflip Onto Peanut Butter Fingers is the name of my band
So, what the hell is the actual game like? Well, you start out in the Urban world (the others are Junkyard, Port, Base, and Neon City), with the first Amateur level unlocked. Simply make it to the finish line where your adoring fans await without falling and smashing your face, and you unlock the next level (there are 5 Amateur levels in each world). In each level, there are 5 objectives, which range from getting a high score, combo, doing a specific trick, collecting spray cans, not pushing forward on your board at all, grinding a certain number of rails, etc. If you complete all 5 objectives within a level, you unlock the corresponding Pro level (there are 5 of these per world, too), which also have 5 objectives each that are way harder than the Amateur ones.
To maintain a combo in OlliOlli, because I am sure you are wondering how to keep one going, you have to trick onto and off of rails. The more rails and tricks you do before hitting the ground, the more points you are going to receive. Maintaining an awesome combo can be quite tricky, flicking the stick every which way, watching your timing, and remembering to hit A just right as you land; but when you get a whooping X50 multiplier, you just feel like a sexy man beast on the inside. If only OlliOlli had the Manual move from Tony Hawk Pro Skater 2, which let you continue a combo even as you landed a trick, then the game would be even greater than it already is (though OlliOlli 2 has something similar, at least).
There are some issues I have with OlliOlli, though I still think it is a great title. For one, and this can very well be my television latency, the Wii U version is off with the timing when you land a trick. On the 3DS, I get PERFECTs when I press A as I hit the ground, but on the Wii U, I only manage to get PERFECTs when I hit A before I land. It’s a relatively minor issue, but when I am going back and forth between the two versions of the game, it is quite jarring. Speaking of going back and forth between the two versions, you can’t upload your progress into either version; if you get further on the 3DS, too bad, you gotta do it again on the Wii U. ARGH. Also, when you mess up and smash into something on a course, your character will go “WHOA” and hit into things before he face plants completely. Normally this is very funny, but when there is a long level with a downward descent, it’s annoying to see your character hit 700 things on the way down every time you mess up, especially if you land right before the finish line.
In addition to the Career mode, OlliOlli contains Spots, which are levels where your skater must perform one long combo; once you land, the level is over. Spots are essentially just for high score bragging rights, which is not what I have an issue with. No, there are particular Spots called the Daily Grind, and there is a new one every day. You can practice these Spots all you like and then compete for 1st place on the Leaderboards, but if you mess up once when you get out of practice, that’s it; no retries. It’s a little much, especially when combined with my other gripe: tricks don’t work perfectly all the time. On both the 3DS and Wii U, there will be times where I am sure I flicked my stick, but my character will not olli and simply crash. Other times I know I will have started a grind, but the game thinks otherwise, and I will miss a rail. It’s not enough for me to not recommend OlliOlli, but it is bothersome.
Open the door, get on the floor, everybody grind the dinosaur!
OlliOlli is a short, fun, hectic, infuriating, well-designed game. It’s easy to learn and control, and provides just enough challenge for every type of gamer (though screw some of those Pro levels, seriously). It’s just around $10, and buying one version nets you the other one for free, so that’s a great deal. When you get into a Zen-like trance doing tricks and combos, OlliOlli is in a class almost by itself. Control issues and wishing I could upload my damn progress aside, OlliOlli is well worth your time and cash. Enjoy your numerous successes and face plants equally!
OlliOlli'd Its Way Into My Heart!
Gameplay - 8.5/10
Design - 8.5/10
Controls - 7/10
Make no mistake: OlliOlli will drive you completely crazy, but in a good way! Landing an insanely long combo perfectly is always a great feeling, and messing it up is the worst thing that can ever happen to you. Regardless of whether you fail or succeed, you will always be itching to retry a level, whether to finish it in one piece or striving for the highest of high scores.