October 11, 2015
Curve digital have been doing a fantastic job of bringing quirky indie titles to Nintendo platforms and OlliOlli is a great game. Albeit one that could have been executed a little better.
They did however provide fantastic value with this release, as you can get 2 copies of the game from one purchase. One for your 3DS and one for your Wii U as long as you have the same network ID linked to both. I have to be honest, this massively swayed me into picking it up. It appealed to the inner “economist” in me.
I’ll be reviewing the 3DS version as I 100%`ed it on my bus commutes to work. But I did miss having that awesome soundtrack blaring out of my sound system setup.
And with that in mind, let’s address some of the 3DS’s versions shortcomings and get them out of the way.
I don’t think there’s actually any stereoscopic 3D in this game. If there is, it’s extremely subtle and ineffective. There’s a ton of cool graphics that play with the depth as well. Special effects from pickups could have littered to foreground, and there’s lots of background layers whizzing past. It’s a real missed opportunity and I don’t believe for a second they cut it out for much needed `optimization` it was more likely laziness on the developers/porters behalf. I mean come on, 3D is literally in the name of the system. Give us an excuse to pick this version up over a PC copy, which can be found for pennies.
there’s a lot of trial and error to attain 100% completion. Casuals be warned.
There’s also quite a number of glitches I was able to repeat, and bizarre moments of stuttering and slowdown. Nothing game breaking however. And the slowdown was intermittent enough to forget about.
There’s no streetpass functionality in the game but I can see why they choose not to. It would detract from the Wii U version slightly. Plus the daily grind mode is a nice compensation. Every single day there’s a generated level for you to get the biggest combo you can on, in one attempt. (Barring a practice pre-run) It’s a nice feature that gives some much needed longevity and it perfectly suits the spirit of OlliOlli, which is pick up and play, high score chasing.
The game is quite similar to tony hawk. There’s 5 environments with 5 levels in each with a set of challenges to accomplish. And upon finishing them all the game grants you a pro version of the level to beat with tougher goals.
The game is an ideal length considering its price point and gameplay depth. It doesn’t outstay its welcome and it gives you plenty of content to master its mechanics.
Gameplay is an interesting blend of half & quarter circle spins with shoulder button modifiers and tons of grinding.
Grinding is momentum & timing based rather than balancing which is pretty interesting. If the game did include a grind gauge of sorts in among its existing design, it would make stringing combos together a headache. There’s times in the game where performing a gigantic varied combo can ache the brain a bit trying to keep up with it all.
There’s a healthy amount of moves in the game and the absence of manuals and half pipes doesn’t seem like it detracts from the experience. I’m looking forward to playing OlliOlli 2 at some point and seeing what features they chose to add.
General gameplay is focused more on timing and momentum, which lends is a more Skate flavored vibe then the balancing act of Tony Hawk’s titles. But the presentation is a lot more arcade like then Skate. Levels contain floating, glowing pickups and the layout of environments feels very `level` like and not organic or realistic like Skate’s environments.
Visually the game has a few noticeable detriments. Some of the background elements can look downright ugly and on some of the greyer levels the game simply looks boring.
The unimpressive aesthetic of the game isn’t helped any by the lack of 3D and the character is downright tiny on my 3DS model. And another one of my pet peeves rears its ugly head here. Pre-fabricated assets littered everywhere. The “modular asset” method of level decoration is present here. Obviously a conscious design decision given the games indie status, but that doesn’t meant I have to enjoy seeing the exact same obstacle hundreds of times. New levels should contain new things to look at.
The final environment in the game is the visual highlight. A neon Toyko flavored cityscape with lots of cool decorations and billboards. I hope the sequel pushes the level diversity further next time round.
The levels become a escalating compilation of weirder and zanier things you can grind on.
The music in the game is best described as mellow. It forgoes the over-active thrash tunes of Tony hawks for a more subdued and offbeat soundtrack. There’s one song in the game I would describe as energetic. The rest are very chill. I would personally have preferred more rock and dubstep tunes in the game but music preferences are likely the most subjective thing to bring up in a review. The song tracks do fit the atmosphere of the game and every song is an actual licensed song you can buy. (I failed to find a album containing them all sadly.)
Favorite song in the game. Check out the rest of the soundtrack when you get the chance.
The Wii U version obviously benefits from having (2) bigger screens. The analog stick is big and chunky and makes getting the hang of the game quite easy, but after tanking hours into both version I’m quite fond of the circle pad on the 3DS. The Wii U stick and shoulder buttons feel a bit too clunky for this game.
Plus, the smaller 3D screen does a better job of hiding the games visual blemishes.
Mechanically the levels do a perfect job of pushing your skills to the max. Some will have you remembering pixel perfect sequences of grinds to collect certain items where others will have you dodging patches of snow with well-timed pushes and jumps. (A neat little gimmick in the Siberia level)
Siberia is a surprisingly inventive level. Plus it brought back warm (cold?) memories of the opening level from Timesplitters 2.
If you have even a slight interest in the skateboarding genre, or just want a fun arcade game to pick up and play. OlliOllli is well worth a look.
Even more so if you own both Nintendo platforms. I hope more developers bring cross play to their titles. It’s irresistible value.