OlliOlli 2: Welcome to Olliwood

OlliOlli 2 is a skateboarding game that wants you to feel good.

It's a game in which you can pull off an incredible level-long combo and feel like Tony Hawk, while conveniently forgetting the thirty minutes of faceplants, sloppy landings, and abortive half-attempts that preceded it.

It could so easily parade your failings in front of you, Super Meat Boy style, but it never does. Failure here is just a cruel yet inevitable stepping stone on the road to the perfect run.

Restarting a level takes pretty much no time at all, and the feeling of getting slightly better each time is gently encouraging.

The developer here plays the role of a friendly but hands-off coach, who gives you only the information you need before trusting you to use it wisely, independently, and skilfully.

Just you and the board

OlliOlli 2, like its predecessor, is skating brought back to basics.

No celebrity endorsements, no ridiculous plastic peripheral, no fetishisation of YouTube-friendly boarding accidents a la Skate's 'Hall of Meat' - just a return to the days of shuffling your thumbs around to simulate the perfect 360 hardflip.

Unlike most skating games, here we have a level-based format and a 2D side-scrolling perspective.

You'd think, then, that the game would lose something of its skateboarding theme, instead feeling like a platformer in which you just happen to roll around on a four-wheeled plank. That's most certainly not the case.

The rhythm and flow of the game is completely different to that of any standard platformer, as the impetus remains firmly on chaining tricks and nailing perfectly-timed landings in order to keep your momentum - and your combo score - heading in a positive direction.

The way you do this is simple, at least in theory. Tricks are all executed using the left stick, ranging from a simple upward flick for an Ollie to some truly thumb-bending shenanigans for more complex manoeuvres.

Regardless, a well-timed jab of X will bring you back to earth gracefully - with your execution ranked as either Sloppy, OK, Sick, or Perfect - and it's this all-important conclusion to a trick which brings in the big points.

Similarly, timing is also of the essence when it comes to grinds and manuals - the latter a new addition for this sequel - which are used to chain tricks together.

A long chain means a big points multiplier, so these moves are crucial for getting the big scores.

That's the potential that the manual adds, allowing you to turn any surface into a combo-extension opportunity, and thus complete levels in one glorious chain of tricks.

Practice, practice, and more practice

OlliOlii 2 has a massive amount of content, and an enormous potential for players to reach a ninja-like level of mastery - potential that, in all likelihood, this writer and his clumsy thumbs will never fulfil.

The chunky career mode boasts five areas - the sun-kissed metropolis of Olliwood, the Indiana Jones-flavoured Curse of the Aztec, the western-themed Gunmetal Creek, the grim Carnival of the Dead, and the robot-dominated Titan Sky.

There are five amateur levels for each of these areas, each with five individual challenges within them - including nailing certain tricks, or reaching a certain points threshold - which, when mastered, unlocks an additional 25 pro levels.

There are even more levels for those who beat the pro stages, but I fear that's a little beyond my ability right now.
It may be an intimidating amount of stuff, but you can't fault OlliOlli 2 on value.

The career mode's just scratching the surface, too. The excellently-named Daily Grind mode pits you against the world in daily challenges that you can practice ad infinitum, but only attempt once for real. It's a smart and infuriating little addition.

Then there's Spots, a series of small stages which can only be played in single combos - one flop, and your score counter checks out right there.

The gist, then, is that OlliOlli 2: Welcome to Olliwood provides some of the best gaming highs I've yet to experience on PS Vita.

The elegant controls, the tactile sound of wheel on rail, it's the perfect storm of little touches that make this such a great 2D approximation of the sport. Get it.

OlliOlli 2: Welcome to Olliwood

Frustration, fury, and eventual elation - it's all in a day's work for OlliOlli 2. A near-perfect sequel
Matt Suckley
Matt Suckley
Achingly contrarian. Proud owner of an N-Gage and a PSP Go. Matt spends most of his time writing about indie games of which you've never heard. Like that one, yes. Matt is an English student, and largely terrible at games. Go figure.