OlliOlli World Review
Growing up in the nineties, extreme sports were hugely popular. For those who were completely unable to ollie, let alone do anything else, computer games imitating them were a great way to at least pretend you knew what you were doing. They also allowed you to pull off some pretty ridiculous stunts without the worry of breaking multiple, if not all, your bones in one fell swoop. Whether it was Tony Hawk and his skateboarding games or Dave Mirra and that BMX bike of his, the thing I loved the most was finding the lines to run and enjoying the flow. There was something magical and hugely rewarding about finally nailing a tricky line or managing to run a whole level in one insanely long trick combo. Whilst this wasn’t realistic, it didn’t matter, it was the right side of silly fun that made pulling 900 spins off for fun hugely entertaining.
OlliOlli World is developer Roll7’s third entry in its series of OlliOlli games that started in 2014, originally for the PS Vita (remember those?!). The original OlliOlli was a lovely 2D side-scrolling affair with 8 bit style graphics. It was a fast paced game and you needed a nimble set of digits to pull off the top scores and some of the harder challenges. Several runs were almost always required to pull these challenges off and good muscle memory too, especially as the levels got more technical. It was one of those games that was easy to pick up and quite difficult to master if you were wanting to compete on the leaderboards. At this point you could only pull off flip tricks like the ollie or kick-flip, for example, alongside spins and grinds. Linking sections together and nailing a perfect landing were the keys to making the big scores. There were also no checkpoints so if you failed, it was back to the start and your score wiped clean.
OlliOlli2: Welcome to Olliwood followed just over a year later and introduced, amongst other things, the ability to link sections with manuals. It was also where levels were now split, with more than one route taking you to the finish. You could always take different paths, but they were always on the same route whether you were grinding your board to oblivion or pulling off some ridiculous spins. Now, if you knew the way, you could take an entirely different route that perhaps offered up some ways to score even bigger. The pace was still frenetic but there was the added challenge now of ‘can I link my tricks all the way to the end?’
All this now culminates into OlliOlli World, which has taken what made its older siblings so much fun, namely the speed and the thumb-destroying combos, and turned it up to eleven. One of the coolest additions is your ability to customise your character. Previously you were a nondescript skater, bereft of colour and imagination. Now you can be whoever you want. Feel like skating in hi-tops with long shorts and a tiny top? Go for it. What’s even more fun is that you can change everything about your avatar at any point. You can change the hair, the outfit, your facial hair, all of it at any time just because. It’s very freeing in that sense and allows you, as the player, to express yourself and just have fun. You see, when you’re skating around Radlandia, our setting, as long as you have a board in your hands, no-one cares how you’re dressed.
Split into five main sections, with an additional sixth for multiplayer activities, Radlandia is a skater’s dream. Lots of jumps, grinds and, as you progress, more routes through a level than you can shake a stick at. In addition to the flips, grinds and manuals from the first two games, OlliOlli World introduces grabs, wallrides and the ability to change routes at designated points. If you’re fast enough, it’s entirely possible to go whole levels, including multiple routes, in one long combo. To get the top scores and beat the local heroes — one of the many additional challenges you have per level — this ability becomes essential. Later levels have hero scores above one million and take it from me, those scores aren’t easy to hit.
Thankfully, progressing through the main storyline levels only requires you to complete each level but in all honesty, the story is a sideshow and isn’t really all that interesting. The premise is that the current skating wizard is approaching retirement and it’s up to you to skate your heart out and meet the skating gods in order to take their place. The story is told through speech bubbles at the start and end of levels, and at times it borders on cringeworthy. It has all the hallmarks of someone trying their best to write the lingo but missing the mark entirely. It’s not overly distracting and these scenes can be skipped if you want but then again, perhaps I’m just too old to understand the kids.
Visually OlliOlli World is a technicolour wonderland. It’s bright, it’s vibrant and the soundtrack is a lovely mix of chilled low-fi music. When played with a headset on you’re enveloped into its world and it’s quite easy to lose hours setting new high scores and finding new paths and routes through levels. Nailing all the challenges will take even the most skilled tricksters out there quite some time to achieve them and once you’ve completed the main story there are additional, even harder challenges to try and overcome. If there’s one thing that may make these challenges more difficult than they already are to achieve is the responsiveness of the controls. For the most part they are pretty good, but when some levels need to be pixel perfect they can be your downfall and will no doubt lead to some gamers fuming in frustration.
Despite this, OlliOlli World continues Roll7’s fine tradition of serving up a wonderfully addictive skateboarding extravaganza. There are some amazing levels and when you finally turn an entire level into one big combo you really do get a sense of achievement from doing so. The additions to your trick arsenal allow for plenty of chances to express yourself along each route and I’m sure those who’ve played previous titles will jump straight to posting some insane leaderboard scores in no time. However, if there’s one thing that really stood out for me it was the customisation options. Its gender neutral avatar should allow all gamers to feel at home and welcome in the world of Radlandia and I couldn’t think of a better place to kick back and shred.
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