OlliOlli is a game about skateboarding, but it doesn't need to be.
It's a thrilling, level-based auto-runner with a cool vibe, a neat visual style, loads of stuff to do, and a moreish online mode.
Its commitment to the skateboarding bit - specifically skateboarding tricks - feels underdevelope, but make no mistake: this is a compulsive and energetic arcade action game, and well worth the pittance you'll pay for it.Sketchy
The setup is simple: you're a skateboarder at the start of a course, and you must get to the finish line. If you can perform gnarly tricks along the way, so much the better.
Controlling your rad dude entails a combination of Tony Hawk simplicity and Skate sophistication. To get a little speed you press Cross, to get in the air by doing a trick you move the left stick in a quarter turn, and to land you press the Cross button again.
Grinding is also a huge part of the game, and to do this you need only press a direction with the left stick. While in mid-air you can add turns and trick modifiers with the shoulder buttons, should you feel like being a fancy pants.
It takes a little while to master the controls, but once you do they feel intuitive, even if they sometimes can't keep up with your actions.
Occasionally you'll input the commands for a trick too quickly, and the game will interpret it as a simple jump. This doesn't affect getting through the game's Career and unlocking all the standard stages within, but when it comes to the online highscore tables, trick-heavy Spots, and special objectives within the Career, it's infuriating to be foiled by this shortcoming.
Sticking on the theme of technical issues, I experienced several during my time with the game. OlliOlli spat out an error message at one point, and forced me to quit out. Thankfully, it automatically saves your hard-earned progress, so these issues are a minor annoyance rather than a deal-breaker.Back to the grind
When all is working well, OlliOlli is a dream of a platformer. Stages are small but filled with ramps to jump and hazards to avoid, so you'll spend a good deal of time learning how each is laid out and thinking about the best methods of traversing them all.
Most of the time you'll find you can get through an entire level in one or two long combos, and doing so is satisfying in the extreme.
Once you've made it to the end of the course, you unlock the next, and if you complete all the objectives - such as grabbing X number of spray cans or jumping across a certain gap - then you can tackle the Pro Challenges.
In Spot - surely the mode with the greatest longevity - your total score for the stage is tallied and shared for the whole World Wide Web to see.
But this high score chase is hampered by the iffy input recognition, as well as a pixel-art style that - though sporting a cool vibe, much like the music - doesn't provide visual clarity when it comes to pulling off tricks.
However, when you perfect the timing of a trick or land or grind, a message in green lets you know how you're doing, and you can adjust the way you play on the fly. As a result, getting your timing right winds up being much easier to engage with than the trick system, leading me to wonder why the skateboarding element was needed at all.
This shouldn't deter you too much from giving OlliOlli a go though. With its one-attempt-only Daily Grind levels, effortlessly cool looks, and addictive Career structure, it's sure to be the talk of Twitter the week it's released.