OlliOlli Review

Skate or die.

Many of the best skateboarding video games have traditionally had little to do with the sport of skateboarding itself. The Tony Hawk games were popular in part because they let you do things that Tony Hawk himself could not do, whether that was effortlessly pulling off a complex trick while jumping over a helicopter or grinding on top of tall buildings. OlliOlli, a 2D skateboarding game for the Vita, continues the tradition of defying both death and gravity with over-the-top stunts. With an absorbing trick system and rapid-fire stages that are perfect on the go, OlliOlli earns a place among skateboarding's gaming greats.

While OlliOlli is overall a very difficult game to master, on the surface its 2D gameplay is more approachable than most of its 3D skateboarding counterparts. Seemingly simple controls allow for surprising complexity, and it can take a while to get used to performing and, more importantly, landing tricks. You begin each stage already in motion, though you can shove with a tap of the X button if you find yourself in need of more speed. The stages are set up as one long run through decidedly non-skate-park environments--there are no halfpipes or pools to spend time in. The vast majority of your tricks, everything from your basic ollie (or jump, if you're not familiar with the skateboarding term) to your complex 360 inward heelflip, are accomplished by moving the left analog stick. Simply moving it up or down ollies, moving it to the right kickflips, and fighting-game-esque circular motions perform more advanced stunts. The act of releasing the stick initiates the trick, so you do a lot of flicking and releasing as you skate through environments.

OlliOlli earns a place among skateboarding's gaming greats.

Nail that landing, and you could call yourself the Dominique Dawes of skateboarding.

Flicking the analog stick in various directions again while in the air allows you to grind on a variety of surfaces, including handrails and futuristic billboards; this is an absolute necessity if you want to keep combos going, which is key in getting the highest point totals. Holding either of the shoulder buttons lets you spin while doing tricks, opening up even more possibilities. Don't worry if you can't remember how to do a specific trick or grind, though. A built-in "tricktionary" contains a handy list of them all.

One of the toughest things to get used to in OlliOlli is the act of landing. Like the trick controls, landing is very simple on paper: hit X before you hit the ground. But it's amazing how often you can forget such a simple step or accidentally move the analog stick to grind when you really mean to land on solid ground. To further complicate things, you are rewarded with a perfect landing bonus (which rewards you with a burst of speed) if you wait until the very last moment to stick a landing or start a grind. For the game's harder challenges, nailing perfect landings is more of a requirement than a suggestion. A good sense of timing is your most important skill.

Once you get past the unique way OlliOlli controls, there are a lot of comparisons to draw between it and the Tony Hawk franchise. Each stage has a set of goals for you to complete, ranging from basic high-score targets to tasks like collecting items, grinding specific objects, completing a stage without pushing a specific trick, and so on. One major difference, however, is that OlliOlli's stages are not timed. When you crash, you're done. Most levels last little more than a minute, but making it to the end intact may take many tries, even if you're not trying to accomplish anything else at the time.

A good sense of timing is your most important skill.

As frustrating as it can be when you bail on a combo you've been working on for an entire level, there's an exhilaration that comes when you finally nail it. OlliOlli is tough, but fair, and with practice, even the craziest tricks and combos are at your fingertips. Retrying a stage is possible instantaneously by tapping the Vita's screen, and the short nature of the levels makes it hard to resist quickly restarting when you screw up. Likewise, the joy of success tends to be followed up by the thought of, "I bet I could keep my combo going longer if I could get just a little more height off this jump." This comes together in the Daily Grind mode, which presents everybody with a single stage and one day to set a high score with a single combo. You can practice as much as you want, but you get only one chance to make your mark on that day's challenge. Don't choke and fall down the first set of stairs you come to when the pressure is on, not that I'd know from experience or anything.

A fakie ollie is not a nollie, and don't let anyone tell you otherwise!

The chase for higher scores keeps you coming back for more, so it's unfortunate that the game's leaderboards don't allow for much analysis or comparison with your friends. Your high scores on each stage are uploaded automatically, and you're told where you rank worldwide, but there is no way to directly compare your performance with that of your buddies. You still feel the rush of competition and the desire to do better next time, but this would be more effective if more bragging rights were at stake.

Thankfully, lackluster leaderboards turn out to be one of OlliOlli's very few flaws. It's a wonderful arcade experience that not only demands both precision and speed, but has the tight controls necessary to make both possible. There's little reason that it couldn't work on systems besides the Vita, but OlliOlli is a great fit for the portable. Its bite-size stages are great for quick play sessions when you've got only a few minutes to spare, and mastering all the game's challenges takes awhile if you want to hunker down for longer periods of time. OlliOlli is a new skateboarding triumph that demands your attention.

The Good
Easy to pick up for both short and long sessions
Tough but fair difficulty that balances challenge and reward
Clean 2D visuals keep things clear even at high speeds
Catchy soundtrack makes both jazz and dubstep sound appropriate for play
The Bad
Comparing scores with friends isn't easy
8
Great
About GameSpot's Reviews

About the Author

Britton Peele's only experience with a real skateboard involved falling, but he's been a fan of over-the-top skateboard games since the early days of Tony Hawk. He mastered OlliOlli's amateur challenges, finished many pro challenges, and landed more than 1,000 perfect tricks before writing this review.

Discussion

63 comments
LE5LO
LE5LO

After reading the OlliOlli article on another popular games site, cough*Ben Chuchera at Polygon*cough, he mentions: (Quote) "There is very little vert skating in the game"

*Facepalm* Great Ben, let's now figure out if there is ANY let alone very little vert skating in the game?! I may tell Polygon that if they want, they can send me his next game to review, I'll actually play it and find out the correct answer to a simple question like that!

Prop's to Britton here for actually being thorough enough get it right, (I assume). Really, it's just a simple detail that any skateboarding fan (such as myself) would like to know about the game. ;-)

LE5LO
LE5LO

It's Canabalt with tricks and a high score counter. No way would I pay U.S $13 for this.

canuckbiker
canuckbiker

This game is going to kick my ass, and I'll love it for it.

Rheinmetal
Rheinmetal

It's times like this that I wish I had a PS Vita.

obsequies
obsequies

remember how hard skate or die was on the NES. holy fuck

Dannystaples14
Dannystaples14

So basically a typical Indie title? Half an hour worth of gameplay (if that) and then repeat, repeat, repeat.

DrKill09
DrKill09

No.


You want a game that's fun to play, but hard to master?  Try EA's Skate or Thrasher Skate and Destroy.

LE5LO
LE5LO

Ok, vert skating and half-pipe skating are different. According to IGN's review "there's no vert. skating", whereas Wikipedia states it's "the act of riding on a ramp or other incline", it just means a sloped surface, which there obviously are here. I hope I've taught you all a very useful fact today! You're welcome.

LE5LO
LE5LO

@Dannystaples14Dude, one word..."Braid". Well worth the money for an indy game, this...not so much.

HowlPendragon
HowlPendragon

@Dannystaples14   Its articles like these that separate the real gamers from the self-proclaimed gamers who for some reason harbor a resentment for anything not AAA

hochstreck
hochstreck

@Dannystaples14So you think shooting or stalking at things(which, quite often, aren't very adept at fighting back) for the millionth time is so much more?

iamllamapie
iamllamapie

@Dannystaples14 Yup. But it's indie so it's x100000 better than normal game, obviously...right? from now on, if I see and idie game and Britton Peele as the reviewe I'm skipping it.

LE5LO
LE5LO

@DrKill09Thrasher got pretty easy to exploit though, racking up the points on Sick! by doing nose bluntsides to 180's and back again constantly, the old Triangle, Circle, L1, R1 for a 180 heelflip/kickflip into grinds was also a favorite, became pretty easy to assassinate that game doing that over and over, still one of the best though, the controls and the accelleration/momentum from pushing and crouching was awesome, to this day no skating game has been that fun to control.

LE5LO
LE5LO

@DrKill09YES! Man, I swear we must've been separated at birth. I was literally going to type near EXACTLY the same thing!!!! A sequel to Skate 3 can wait but man, I've been waiting on Rockstar to make a sequel to skate and destroy for 15 freaking years now! Couldn't get enough of that game back in '99 and the early 2000's!

ahztek666
ahztek666

@DrKill09 I hated skate because of that RIDICULOUS camera angle, but Thrasher is still my favourite skateboarding game of all time. Oh, the fun i had pressing the 4 shoulder buttons to force a bail from the top of a jump. The hilarity was endless.

Ar13ls
Ar13ls

@LE5LO I looked up the same Wikipedia article and even if i'm not a skateboarding at all, I read enough to know you're wrong. Vert skating is going from the horizontal plane to a vertical plane i.e. quarter/half pipe, bowls, etc. It's not just any sloped surface.


PS: I haven't played the game so I don't know if any review is right or wrong. I just wanted to correct you're statement.

LE5LO
LE5LO

@TomMcShea Cheers Tom, that reply means a lot coming from you. ;)


I'm kind of counting pennies at the moment, I'm currently jobless so I'll wait till the Vita and this game drops in price, until then I've got a lot of great, old games for the DS, 360, PS3 and PC that I still haven't finished to keep me busy.


Currently going through the first 3 Professor Layton games and loving them, was able to pick them up recently dirt cheap!

Dannystaples14
Dannystaples14

@wEEman33 Yeah that is true. I'm getting sick of that style as well. I think that is why I'm looking forward to Dark Souls 2 and Witcher 3 so much.

Dannystaples14
Dannystaples14

@HowlPendragon I don't resent Indie titles I just don't want to play most of them. Super Meat Boy is an epic game, so is Hotline Miami, Binding of Isaac, and all those games have in common is you play the game for five minutes and then repeat the same gameplay over and over with no real end or point.

Dannystaples14
Dannystaples14

@hochstreck No and you really shouldn't just put words in people's mouths. I'm okay giving games credit where credit is due but I am not going to waste what little time I have to play games playing a watered down indie title that has half an hours worth of gameplay before I've seen all there is to see from the game.

The reason why I don't play games like Temple Run or Angry Birds, once your thrown your first bird and once you've gone past your first 100m you have pretty much experienced everything the games have to offer.

VenkmanPHD
VenkmanPHD

@iamllamapie@Dannystaples14 BLAH BLAH BLAH

Indie this, AAA that...

Will you people just STFU, try the game, and judge it on it's gameplay merits?

It does NOT matter what kind of company creates any given game.

THE ONLY THING THAT MATTERS is do you like playing it?

Sargus
Sargus

@iamllamapie @Dannystaples14  In my defense, I don't love all indie games (example: http://www.gamespot.com/reviews/darkout-review/1900-6415594/ ), and I also love a lot of "AAA" games (example: http://popcultureblog.dallasnews.com/2013/11/a-link-between-worlds-is-the-legend-of-zelda-at-its-2d-finest.html/ ).


I review games, not developers. Whether a game comes from a big studio or a small developer is irrelevant. It doesn't matter who makes the game if it's good. But hey, if you ultimately decide to skip reviews just because I write them, more power to you.

Kickable
Kickable

@iamllamapie@Dannystaples14yea you don't sound as narrow-minded as anyone who blindly buys indie games.  if you read the review and the about section I don't know why you'd think he's not worth trusting.  you probably skip all reviews anyway and just buy the games with the best visuals.  btw just because an indie game scores an 8 doesn't necessarily mean it's better than all games the site has reviewed below an 8.

LE5LO
LE5LO

@Ar13ls PS: I haven't played the game so I don't know if any review is right or wrong. I just wanted to correct you're statement.

Try harder next time.

Dannystaples14
Dannystaples14

@hochstreck @HowlPendragon Of course but when the gameplay is the same thing over and over and over with no story or characters then what is the point? Mobile game and Indies are the worst thing to happen to games since the North American computer games crash in the 80s.

Dannystaples14
Dannystaples14

@nl_skipper Every game you have ever played has you doing the same thing over and over again? We must play very different games then because most games I've ever played have been good.

All repetition, there are repetitive elements to all games but not all repetition. Like I don't just play the same part of a game over and over again. Like I don't play Final Fantasy and just run around in the same room or two or three rooms that all look the same until I am bored and then give up. There is an actual story, there is character development, there is flow. Sure the battling might be the same each time, but you are fighting different enemies, using different abilities as you go through.

Yeah okay most games are pointless overall but I play games for a good story and great atmosphere. Something that is totally missing from games like this because they are designed so they can be played while taking a crap or something. 

By your logic watching a movie is also pointless, so is reading a book, but people do them anyway because they give you something back, a great story and immersion. How can throwing little birds at a pile of wood, while sat on the bus create immersion?

nl_skipper
nl_skipper

@Dannystaples14  You just described every game in existence if you're going to break the whole game experience down to the base parts like that... it's all repetition and all pointless... from that view games are pointless and you might as well just watch movies and such for a good story, or cartoons to see some visuals.

Dannystaples14
Dannystaples14

@Bread_or_Decide @HowlPendragon Yeah except the game changes around the things it asks you to do. Geralt in Witcher can only use his swords and magic attack over and over but he at least goes to different places and fights different monsters.

Just look at Flower. You are the wind and you fly around picking up petals. That is all the game is. I play one level and the game is then the same the entire rest of the time pretty much.

I play GTA V on the other hand and I do a tutorial and then at one point I'm flying a plane, the next on a dirt bike, setting up a heist, messing around in police cars, robbing a shop, robbing an ATM. Vast amounts of different things using the system the game gave you. Sure you use the same combat mechanics and controls but you apply them in different ways.

The Indie equivalent of GTA is doing a mission to collect a briefcase and then doing the same mission again, in a slightly different location and with a different layout. Then you just do that over and over and over.

It isn't here is a mission, and now here's is a second mission that is largely the same except the background is different.

Temple run, I run run, jump, slide, run, I die. I then start again and it is the EXACT same game again.

Spelunky, go through tunnels, kill enemies, the only thing that changes it the background image and the layout. You run through tunnels over and over again that are all similar to each other until you die and then you start again.

Pacman? What are you talking about the original Pacman? I've played Pacman, but I don't play Pacman now. I don't get home each day and think, hey Pacman, that is what I want to play. I want to spend the next hour moving a little yellow circle through a little maze thing collecting orbs instead of play a game with an actual story and complexity to it.

Bread_or_Decide
Bread_or_Decide

@Dannystaples14 @HowlPendragon Angry Birds has a last level. I don't think you're really expressing yourself well on this topic. Any game ever made is repetitive and asks you to mostly do the same two or three things for an entire game.


As for games with no end...again....I guess you don't play Pacman or Galaga. Once upon a time a high score WAS the point of playing video games. 

Dannystaples14
Dannystaples14

@Bread_or_Decide @hochstreck I've played Tetris but it isn't a game I play often. Why because it is repetitive and has no aim to it. Why would I choose to slot blocks together over and over and over when there are games available that are infinitely more than that? That actually have an aim, a story and complexity.

COD is boring because it is repetitive. I stopped playing COD because it is the same thing over and over and over. Just like every Indie I've ever tried. 

I mean why would you want to do that in an evening? Just playing the same thing over and over? It is boring.

Seriously when people say the future of gaming is mobile games and indie titles, I honestly think I would happily never play games ever again if that is indeed what the industry turned into.

Bread_or_Decide
Bread_or_Decide

@Dannystaples14 @hochstreck I take it then you never played tetris. 


And you could almost say that about the first half hour of any game.


30 mins of shooting in COD and you've experienced the whole game. Etc, etc, etc. 

Dannystaples14
Dannystaples14

@dominoodle @iamllamapie No I've not played it Indies are a hard sell for me. I'm not against them or anything and am willing to give credit where credit is due but the majority of the time they aren't my first choice.

OlliOlli More Info

  • First Released
    • Macintosh
    • PC
    • + 4 more
    • PlayStation 3
    • PlayStation 4
    • PlayStation Vita
    • Unix/Linux
    OlliOlli is a 2d skateboarding game that mixes addictive one-life gameplay with over 120 tricks and grinds with 100 deviously crafted levels & 250 challenges across four gameplay modes.
    7.4
    Average User RatingOut of 12 User Ratings
    Please Sign In to rate OlliOlli
    Developed by:
    Tom Hegarty, roll7
    Published by:
    Devolver Digital, roll7
    Genres:
    Skateboarding/Skating, Sports
    Content is generally suitable for all ages. May contain minimal cartoon, fantasy or mild violence and/or infrequent use of mild language.
    Everyone
    All Platforms
    No Descriptors