How do you follow up one of the best skateboarding titles of recent years?
Like an unbroken chain of audacious kickflips, teetering manuals and brash shove-its, developer Roll7’s momentum continues apace and in OlliOlli 2: Welcome to Olliwood, we glimpse the developer in premium form. With a variety of new tricks, new courses and tighter yet more welcoming design, Roll7’s dominance of the skater genre proves to be as unassailable as it was last year.
More of a calculated evolution over Olli Olli than a wholesale revolution of the 2D skater genre that its predecessor represented, OlliOlli 2 fixes what precious little was wrong with the original and in doing so proves to be an infinitely more welcoming affair. The inclusion of a more robust tutorial in addition to an expanded Spots mode where players can hone their skills proves to be a wise concession to newbies who might otherwise be put off by Olli Olli’s fearsomely hardcore reputation.
Elsewhere, the inclusion of additional tricks compounded by the presence of newly rolling hills and huge-air enabling glowing ramps provides yet further creativity for budding skaters to unleash their art. Clearly though, it’s the inclusion of manuals, which are able to almost indefinitely extend trick combos, that serve to augment the experience most meaningfully beyond the original OlliOlli’s already substantial creative scope for trick-fu.
Further freshening up the experience, is the new Hollywood style setting that permeates throughout OlliOlli 2. Representing much more than just a cosmetic switch from the disparate and disconnected stages of the original, OlliOlli 2’s extravagant movie sets and film-themed locations provide an excellent playground inside which the sequel’s newly expanded combo system and array of tricks are able to flourish.
A massive robot on a sci-fi set provides ample opportunity for long grinds with its extended limbs, while multiple routes seamlessly integrated into each stage, ensuring far more variety than the decidedly linear stages glimpsed in the original. Simply put, OlliOlli 2’s new locations and trick friendly, multiple path stages provide a veritable playground for newbie and stalwart grinders alike to ply their trade.
And what a trade it is. With blistered thumbs, worn analogue sticks and torn hair follicles all being tell-tale signs of long-term exposure to Olli Olli’s brutally engaging pixel-perfect gameplay, it comes as a pleasant surprise that Roll7 have not diminished the sequel in anyway in this regard. Just like its predecessor, OlliOlli 2 is so responsive and pixel-perfect in its skateboarding hyperkinetics that the smallest adjustment can prove to be the difference between a perfect trick and a terribly botched one. It all just feels so right.
Mastery in OlliOlli 2, much like its predecessor, is achieved through constant replay and refinement of technique. Here, developer Roll7 are keen to lower the artificial barriers in this regard, with an instant restart just a couple of button presses away, players can immediately retry a level in an effort to improve their skills with absolutely minimal delay. Naturally what follows on OlliOlli 2’s more challenging stages, is frequent, pad-hammering restarts as stage objectives are lost by the smallest of margins and where success always seems no more than one more try away.
While the new feature set of Roll7’s skater sequel is effective yet modest in scope (the upcoming multiplayer modes notwithstanding), just about everything that defined the original returns in largely unaltered form and in doing so, should more than satisfy OlliOlli veterans.
Olli Olli’s hopelessly compelling daily grind mode returns in which players can compete for global leaderboard top spots on a random stage that changes each day, while the popular spots mode reappears with an expanded set of challenges that allow players to get the most from OlliOlli 2’s burgeoning new trick and combo system.
Furthermore, the multi-tiered goal system that made the levels in the original so darn compelling in the first place also make its welcome return, allowing players to aim for individual goals on a case-by-case basis without worrying about their overall performance. Examples such as collecting spray cans, tokens or performing a set number of specific tricks can all be attempted in isolation, meaning that progress can still be made even if an overall run on a given level proves less than desirable.
From a longevity standpoint, peering beneath OlliOlli 2’s stylish veneer soon reveals an embarrassment of riches that should keep folks entertained for a good old while or at least until they keel over from competitively triggered, stress-related trauma. Boasting some 50 new non-linear amateur and pro levels and 250 challenges in addition to unlockable higher levels of difficulty, a myriad of new tricks to master and the aforementioned daily grinds, it’s clear that Roll7 haven’t skimped on value in the slightest.
Audiovisually, while the second coming of Olli Olli hasn’t seen the sort of changes that the gameplay systems have, the new softer looking visuals do aid the overall look of the package with tricks becoming a lot clearer and stages now being far easier on the eye. Audibly meanwhile, Olli Olli 2’s music is a melting pot of genres, with such new varied tune-smiths as Flako, Dorian Concept and Qemists all contributing to a riveting, kaleidoscopic soundtrack that acts as the perfect partner to the on-screen shenanigans.
If there is any complaint it would be that OlliOlli 2 doesn’t stray far at all from the robust fundamentals that so well defined last year’s game and thus, may well seem to be more like Olli Olli 1.5, than a true sequel. That said, while such complaints are accurate to the developer’s intention to play things somewhat safe from a design perspective, they soon seem churlish in the face of OlliOlli 2’s overall towering achievements.
In its sophomore skateboarder outing then, Roll7 has managed to craft a game that appeals to newbies without compromising the depth that players clamoured for in the first place. A frankly brilliantly playable skater title that deftly expands upon the substantial calibre of the original, this is how you follow up one of the best skateboarding titles in years.