I like to think that first impressions tell a big story, and whilst we shouldn’t hang up totally on them, that is no more true than in the world of videogames. But should we always take the first thing we see as global truth, or can a game evolve to a big enough extent to make us change our impression?
Well, you know what? OlliOlli does just that.
My very first impressions of OlliOlli on Xbox One were not good. Although fast and fluid, visually the game is nothing to write home about. With it originally created to wow the small screen audience, the switch up to the big TV and the new generation of super powerful consoles, does indeed allow the lacking visuals to tar the experience ever so slightly. Throw in some majorly dodgy old skool audio and your first five minutes with OlliOlli may not be the greatest.
But hey, let us not judge a game on its looks alone and thankfully that is when OlliOlli comes alive. For the ‘one more go’ addictive nature that is brought to us by Roll7 and now Curve Digital is the ultimate draw for the Xbox One version.
A 2D side scrolling stunt-pulling skate sim, OlliOlli sees you tearing through numerous stages in order to pull off the wildest tricks, earning the highest points possible and landing yourself high up on the worldwide leaderboards…all without bailing into the nearest dumper truck or down the longest flight of stairs. With 50 cleverly designed levels split across five visually differing areas it won’t be long before you get grinding and flipping with the best of them.
Unfortunately, you’ll need to persevere slightly with the tutorial first in order to get the hang of things, and if you’re going on first visual impressions and tutorial education, then OlliOlli would be ditching itself right there and then.
For I haven’t known a lesson to be as frustrating as that found in OlliOlli. I’m not going to put that completely down to the game though as it was quite happy to walk me through the very basics ever so nicely. It’s just when moving further on in and trying to learn specific advanced tricks did I almost throw the controller across the room in anger. Pulling down on the left stick prepares your little skater dude for his next jump and a quick spin of the stick in various directions determines exactly which trick he pulls off. But could I manage to initiate the Backside Shove-It that was required to complete one section of the tutorial? Not in hells chance! Even now, with a good few hours of the game behind me, I’m still struggling to pull it off to a decent level.
Hey, maybe my skills are lacking…or maybe some of the tricks that are available are just there for filler.
Personally, I’m going with the filler option as once in the game proper, I still find myself needing to concentrate fully in order to just complete the level in its most simplest form, as opposed to worrying about certain tricks or grinds in order to gain the highest score possible. With five different challenges bringing five stars for each course, OlliOlli is going to spit the full completion percentage out at you only once you’ve mastered each trick over many hours and eventually worked out the best way to earn the big combos. Personally, I can’t see me hitting even a third of the challenges included because the vast majority of my time spent on the board consists of worrying when to jump and how to land. The skills I pull off in between that are neither here nor there on the ‘bothered’ scale and do, to an extent, annoy me slightly. Did I say the same thing about Tony Hawks back in the day? Probably, but then I was never fully encased in that one either.
OlliOlli is tricky (pun-intended), there is no doubt about that and even if you do focus a little on the many tricks in hand, you’ll also need to ensure you time your button presses correctly in order to actually land the stunts, giving you the chance to take the speed you’ve generated into the next section. Fast fingers are required, as is the patience of a saint as you’ll soon learn that the key to level completion is to take a dive or five first, all whilst planning out the route you’re going to eventually take in order to succeed.
For those who need to earn the really big points in order to obtain those all important bragging rights over their mates, then the Tricktionary should be one of the first ports of calls. Detailing each and every stunt available to pull off; if you’re even the slightest bit worried about grabbing the huge scores then you’ll no doubt be visiting the big old book of tricks more than once. It is here, with these tricks, that I can see OlliOlli defining itself as a bit of a cult classic, appealing to many with its addictive nature, but pushing just as many more away with its in-depth stunts catalogue and high difficulty level.
To keep things fresh and to drag you back on a daily basis, the inclusion of Daily Grinds is a good one. You’ll be firing the game up each and every day in order to experience the latest course and with no need to dig out the disk, if you wish to go and grab five minutes with the latest skill teaser then you can do just that. Prepare yourself though as those five minutes will quite easily turn into hours as unlimited practice runs prior to pulling off your one timed, leaderboard hunting attempt will no doubt have you sitting there for much longer than you originally anticipated.
I must say however that the addition of a track editor in which boarders from around the world could create and share their creations would have been a top inclusion.
Overall then and OlliOlli is a decent little game. It’s no world beater and both the visuals and audio leave a lot to be desired, but if you’re after something that will give you the opportunity to ensure that practice makes perfect, then Roll7 and Curve Digital have done a tremendous job. If you’re not one of those though, well, you’re going to get frustrated sooner rather than later.
For me though, OlliOlli plays much more like an endless runner than it does a skill game.
Does it slam on its face? No, not at all. Do my skills? Yeh, probably.