Skateboarding is a curious thing indeed, especially for those who are not into it in real life but have played games like Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater and Skate. The aforementioned games are pretty good in their own right, although they’re only as good as the general interest in skateboarding itself. That doesn’t mean there wouldn’t be new games coming out for it, including this one that seems to embody the skateboarding culture more than its counterparts, and yet is more different than them as well.
OlliOlli is a skateboarding game by Roll7 that was released earlier this year for the Vita, then was announced to be planned for the PC later on. Devolver Digital is also involved, so it’s good news for those who are fans of that publisher. It doesn’t play in the usual third-person perspective that most would be accustomed to, but in 2D sidescrolling mode, which makes it a bit like Trials Fusion with a skateboard.
Its looks hide none of its indie trappings at all, with character sprites and backgrounds that look kind of washed out and unfit for each other. But then again, that seems to be intentional and makes effects and other elements in the interface stand out. You get a score board on the top right, distance counter on the top, tricks and multiplier on the bottom, and a big fat retry button in case you mess up. The retry immediately puts you back in the start of the level without delay so you can try doing it right again, which is always a nice feature in such a game where pulling off tricks is involved.
This game is best played with a pad controller, as the game would suggest whenever you open it without one plugged in. Do note though that the controls for this game is harder to grasp than that of other skateboarding games in the past. You can push off to go faster by tapping down, then you can hold down any of the face buttons to prepare an ollie. When you let go, you ollie and can perform a trick if you immediately by tapping on a button counter-clockwise adjacent from the button you used to ollie with.
You can also rail grind by holding three top face buttons, then letting go when you want to get off, and you can perform a trick off that if you can tap the other button fast enough. Once gravity has had enough of your shenanigans and brings you back to earth, you have to stick the landing by hitting the down button at the right time, otherwise you’ll end up either making the trick sloppy or bailing hard.
As you may be thinking now, these controls seem rather convoluted, but at least there are concise tutorial levels that let you learn all by giving you brief step-by-step instructions with illustrations, then letting you try it out yourself with on-screen prompts to help you get it right. After spending a bit of time with it, you should get the hang of things and go on to skate in your first actual level.
If you want to know what tricks are possible in this game, you can consult the Tricktionary to see how they are performed. Pulling them off seems akin to doing special moves and combos in fighting games, so it does take a knack in execution in order to get them. But it does feel quite a bit like skateboarding itself, wherein you learn things little by little and the tricks take skill in order to pull off. In a sense, this game does feel more authentic than most of its counterparts, despite its less-than-stellar looks.
This game should be a treat for skateboarding fans or just about anyone who likes beating high scores in arcade-style games. It’s not an easy game to play by any stretch, but it’s perhaps one of the better skateboarding games you’ll play in a while.
Tested in PC. Final Score: 8/10