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review

OlliOlli

There hasn't been a (new) skateboarding game in a while.

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So - even with the double mistake in the title (the trick's spelt Ollie) -OlliOlli makes a welcome appearance into the gaming park. Add eleven grinds, twenty-six tricks to complete five areas, each with five normal and five professional runs, and you've a decent package here. OlliOlli is a kind of endless runner on skateboard; far from a bad idea. The control scheme, however, is.

Hit X twice to let your skater roll into the side-scrolling 2D worlds. Performing tricks involves pushing the analog stick in different directions, with more complex moves performed with circular movements not far removed from fighting games.

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The problem is that landing every trick requires another tap of the X button at the moment just before hitting the surface again. Sure, it means the difference between a bad, good or perfect landing, but this extra beat to the mechanic that completely robs the game of the flow we've come to expect from this type of game. They should have completely skipped the X button and just let the skater land. Even Tiny Wings, as far a cry from the genre as you can get, has better flow than this.

OlliOlli

And we're not talking detailed 3D environments the likes of which we experienced in EA's perfectly-balanced Skate. This is a retro-style 2D title, yet the controls are overly complicated and thereby destroy the flow. Even after several hours you're still not able to build the cool combos you'd pull off in twenty minutes of playing Tony Hawk's Pro Skater.

And as such, each world's side-tasks are more hurdle than challenge to complete. Certain tricks that need pulled off to achieve a high score, or combos to be achieved. Master the challenges, and the professional run unlocks. This can take a while though, as some of the tasks are relatively complicated to solve, and that's mainly due to the control scheme.

While the retro-style of the in-game visuals is something to enjoy, the skater sprite could be distinguished more from the background (they're surprisingly hard to see despite the simplicity of the visuals). The soundtrack could be described as soulless. It eschews the retro feel, and strives for a skateboarding vibe that doesn't quite capture the sport.

Once a day, you can attempt the Daily Grind; a one-shot attempt to land in the game's online leaderboard. It's a nice idea, though boiling down your entry into just a scoreboard number feels like a missed opportunity given the game; it'd been nice to see the attempts of, say, the top five skaters as inspiration.

As a skater myself, and a fan of games with good flow, OlliOlli gives me nothing. If you're a person to whom the X button issue wouldn't be much of a problem, then go for it. For me though, it's as unforgiving as pavement to the face.

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05 Gamereactor UK
5 / 10
+
Chic retro look
-
Poor controls, no flow, bad soundtrack

A second opinion

Mike Holmes: OlliOlli is tough. Fiendishly tough. But I like it. The tap "X" mechanic is ball-busting however you look at it, but I've been utterly absorbed by the way that it fits into the wider mechanics of jumping and grinding through the game's various stages. Perfect timing needs to be mixed with the wide array of different moves and tricks, and stringing together long combos is the key to high scores.

There's plenty of variety in the level designs, and the ramping challenge means the first half of the game is spent maximising your scores, and the latter half is all about getting to the end intact. There's a level of mastery involved in hitting the big numbers that's beyond me at the moment, but as the experience fits perfectly on the Vita's small screen, I'm going to continue to put in the hours as I try to perfect my craft. 8
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