As I put in my first few hours with OlliOlli, I didn’t love it. The sound of my skateboarder hitting the pavement and skidding across it like a rock skipping along a pond was the best trick I was pulling off. This will surely happen to you; but I assure you, once everything starts to click, you will become a glutton for the pleasurable punishment OlliOlli dishes out.
Imagine playing Bit.Trip Runner, but on a skateboard. That’s OlliOlli. It is the kind of game that requires lots of practice, but provides a rewarding experience as you hone your skills. The key to success is to chain tricks and grinds together for maximum points. There are over 120 tricks and grinds you can pull off. It sounds overwhelming, but there is a convenient “Tricktionary” you can access with the touch of the book icon on the touchscreen.
All tricks are executed with the left analog stick, which does not provide the most consistency. This is more of a hardware flaw than a game design flaw. So if you have bigger thumbs, you are going to find some difficulty pulling off advanced tricks.
Timing is also critical to big scores. If you try too many tricks or rotations while you’re catching a lot of air, prepare to see you character’s body crunch together and contort like a tortured rag doll. The same goes for timing your landings. Sloppy landings equal a combo breaker and a loss of most of the points you just earned. I can’t tell you how many times I gritted my teeth when messing up a simple landing after racking up a ton of points, but those moments will make you better and keep you coming back for more.
The five locations, featuring a Junkyard and a port, contain basic 2D backdrops with hand drawn graphics that add some graphical depth of field. You won’t pay much attention to them as the frantic gameplay on the forefront will require all of your attention. Animations of your skateboarder are pretty solid. A careful eye can can distinctly see in each trick you pull off, but again, the frantic pace of OlliOlli does not cater to sightseeing.
Vibrant colors and large icons work perfectly with the style of the game and make the touchscreen an efficient resource. With the amount of times you will faceplant due to bad timing, the yellow level reset button placed in the top left corner of the touchscreen will become your best friend.
Then there are the modes, and goodness there are more to play than you would expect. Each location has five stages. Within those stages are five challenges you have to complete. If you complete them, you’ll unlock the Pro version of that level. If you complete all 250 challenges, you then have a chance to punish yourself with the uber-hard Rad mode. Challenges range from collecting various items in the levels, hitting predetermined high scores, or pulling off a certain trick. They start out relatively easy, but fairly ramp up in difficulty as you progress.
One mode that will keep you coming back every day is the Daily Grind. Each day you get one shot at jumping to the top of the leaderboards with a random level full of grinding platforms and obstacles waiting to take you down. The intense thing about this mode is that you only get one shot to make your mark. There is an opportunity to practice before you tackle the level, but the high pressure of the mode adds to the fun and replay value.
OlliOlli is a solid indie game with a healthy amount of unlockables and levels that will test your patience. With tons of levels, tricks, and modes to keep you busy, you’ll definitely get your money’s worth.