OlliOlli Review (PS Vita)

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Roll7

OlliOlli by Roll7 is one of the latest indie offerings for the PlayStation Network. As you might have guessed from its name, its focus is on skateboarding and pulling off sick tricks. The only rub here is that the game is sort of like an infinite runner, meaning you’ll have to make it from Point A to Point B without losing your momentum.

At first glance, OlliOlli seems like it might be too simple. The graphics, while nice and reminiscent of other indie hits like Canabalt, don’t really pop out at you. Even your sprite of a character looks like a fairly generic design from the mid-90s. That’s not to say that OlliOlli isn’t aesthetically pleasing, but it just doesn’t do much to help it stick out in your memory. It also doesn’t help that the music, while catchy, is ultimately forgettable.

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Once you actually start playing the game and run through the tutorial, that’s where all semblances of simplicity stop and the real meat of OlliOlli shines through. The controls are, again, very simple. You’ll only ever use the X button, the left analog nub and the shoulder buttons. Mashing X allows you to speed up, the analog lets you pull off tricks depending on how you use it and the shoulder buttons let you modify those tricks with twists and turns. For the most part, they work out very well. There’s only a veneer of simplicity here. You’ll have to train your thumbs and fingers to dance around the face of your Vita gracefully, linking tricks together in quick succession if you hope to advance in OlliOlli.

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There are currently 5 different areas to explore in OlliOlli. Each one has a total of 10 stages, split between 5 amateur stages and their pro counterparts. In order to get through a stage, you must complete one of the various objectives. This usually means breaking a high score or hitting a specified combo score. There are other, trickier objectives to complete, but a lot of them require a lot of patience, skill or a healthy a mix of the two. With only 50 stages to skate through, it might seem like OlliOlli is lacking in content, but conquering each stage takes a herculean effort, especially if you’re a beginner. At the very least, the pro stages offer more replayability. Thankfully, beating them is not required to advance.

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I won’t lie to you; the difficulty is pretty high, even on the amateur stages. The game would be a lot easier if you didn’t need to hit the X button every time you landed in order to successfully execute a move. If you don’t time your button press just right, your trick will end up “sloppy” or just “ok,” which means you won’t be awarded with many points, no matter how sick you made your combo. Because it’s so tough, it’s very rewarding to meet the crazy objectives laid out at the beginning of a stage. Sometimes it’s as easy as not getting any “sloppy” landings. Other times, it’s as hard as grinding on every rail or vehicle. Either way, you’ll have to learn how to link and land all of your combos in order to keep going in the game.

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The biggest challenge in OlliOlli is called The Daily Grind, a feature in which all players in the world compete to hold the biggest score in a single stage. You can have as many practice turns as you want, but as soon as you feel like you’re ready, you’ll only have one shot to score as big as you can. Seeing some of the high scores set on The Daily Grind can be downright intimidating, but man, it’s definitely something fun to work towards.

OlliOlli might seem simple, but it’s really an adventure in learning how to time your moves and figuring out which tricks to pull. It really tests your skills while rewarding you for your hard work and dedication. This isn’t some mindless infinite runner; this is OlliOlli.

This review was based on a purchased digital version of OlliOlli for the PlayStation Vita..

8.0 out of 10 arcade sushi rating

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