OlliOlli has been on our radar for some time now but we were never really sure how it was going to turn out. The idea of a 2D skating game on the Vita’s small screen would seem to be a tricky thing to pull of successfully but we’re pleased to say that roll7 seem to have accomplished it with skill and style.
The controls of OlliOlli are simple. The left analogue stick is used to perform tricks and jump and the X button is used to land jumps successfully. Holding down the stick and then releasing it launches your skater into the air, doing this at different angles or with a half circle motion produces different spins and tricks. You can also use either shoulder button to spin you around for further combinations.
Once in the air the aim is to land on a grindable service or at least flat on the ground again. To grind you need to press down as you hit the surface. Doing this at the exact right moment gives a higher score and allows you to maintain your speed. Pressing the stick down at different angles also allows you to land in different types of grinds. The one stick trick system works well and allows for a surprising amount of trick variations.
Maintaining speed is all important as you need to make it to the end of each level without bailing in order to move on to the next. A lack of speed is likely to see you not able to jump obstacles and pits or simple fall off the grind rail you are sailing along. If you are on the ground you can press the X button to speed up but you’ll have to master the perfect grinds as you won’t be spending much time on the ground in later levels as they become one huge grind fest.
The levels themselves are a mix of tricky obstacles and opportunities for big scores. It’s easy to say this is Tony Hawk in 2D but it does hold some essence of the truth. The same addiction to high scores and creating perfect runs becomes embedded in the players mind and it creates the same need to instantly restart and do better as well. The game also draws from games such as Canabalt and its endless running genre. The levels are not endless but you’ll need to understand how to negotiate each obstacle along the way and falling off ends your run dead.
There are a few issues but nothing that really stops the trick-style madness. First of all the game has a knack of crashing when connected to the Playstation Network. It’s far from a common occurrence but it’s certainly frustrating when you’re in the middle of a run and it shuts down. No doubt this will be solved fairly shortly via a handy patch. The other issue is brought about via a combination of speed, the Vita screen and some of the level graphics.
Sometimes it’s very difficult to see what is actually an obstacle or rail and what are background graphics. There are also certain multi-levelled objects where it is very difficult to tell where the grindable part of it is. The tanks in the fourth area are particular offenders. The speed you are normally travelling at gives you next to no time to react so when things blend into the background it is almost always a game over situation. Once you learn the courses this becomes less of a problem but initially it can be frustrating to continually hit things you can barely tell are there.
Overall, OlliOlli is a ridiculously addictive game that provides great pick up and play action. Levels are short but you may end up losing hours without knowing it. It all works extremely well and the courses provide great excuses to go back and get higher scores or complete challenges. OlliOlli is an excellent Vita game and yet another example of indie creativity showing the big boys how to do it.