I had never played an OlliOlli game before, but the simply gorgeous art style found in OlliOlli World had me instantly won over as one I wanted to try. So, imagine my surprise when I absolutely smashed the target score on the first level. Thinking to myself “that must be a pretty good high score” I checked out the online leaderboards. My score of 1500 was around 90000 off the top spot. And this was a pre-release score! Luckily, you can view the replays of other high scores to get a taste for them and what I saw was a masterclass in manuals, jumps, tricks and pretty much everything else.
It was then that I learnt three things: What OlliOlli World was truly like, how much effort I would have to put in and how much I was looking forward to hitting to that zen-like state where muscle memory completely takes over.
OlliOlli World is the third iteration of the side-scrolling skateboarding series. This time around, the pixel art styles of the first two games are replaced by this striking and gorgeous graphical style. At times it feels like you are watching an episode of Adventure Time such are the unique stylings. It will instantly draw you in and stay with you long after.
This new style spills out into the soundtrack. Skateboarding has typically been a post-hardcore/pop-punk affair, but OlliOlli World has an electro soundtrack that fits the aesthetic extremely well. I doubt there are any tracks I would listen to outside of the game – and I do still miss a guitar playing – but I must admit it fits in well.
As well as a new look and sound, there is now a fully fleshed out story set in the skateboarding mecca of Radlandia. As the newcomer arriving to this world of quarter-pipes and grind rails, you find a vibrant skating community that is a very inviting place. You are quickly welcomed in by a group of friends whose personalities shine through in the vignettes before each level. They recognise some seriously good talent within you and guide you through the five districts of Radlandia to meet the various skating gods. Manage to impress these gods enough and you will be able to ascend to Gnarvana as the new god of skating.
Unlocking a god also unlocks Masteries. These are milestones that will come through general play. These, along with Radysus challenges – unlocked after completing the main game – are the elite challenges and will showcase true OlliOlli World mastery.
The biomes of Radlandia are as varied as the rest of the game. Starting out at the seaside themed Sunshine Valley, your journey will take you through treetops, deserts and industrial areas. Each area is beautifully detailed with a cast of NPCs that all seem genuinely nice. They have heard rumours of this new skating prodigy and want to see what you can do.
That skating prodigy can be made to be as individual as you like. You already start off with a healthy amount of customisation options and through beating high scores and challenges can add even more. I cannot begin to tell you how many times my outfits changed whilst playing.
And then we get to the actual skating, which keeps the fundamentals of the previous two games, but adds a lot more as well. The main aim is to still put down as many tricks as possible to score high, and thanks to the inclusion of a boatload more tricks, that is now easier than ever. The right thumbstick controls grabs, the left stick kicks and flips. The left and right triggers control rotations and a combination of all these can help with almost every other trick needed. It is a long way from other skateboarding controller schemes but is arguably more intuitive than Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater and a damn sight easier than Session.
You can learn these at your own pace as well. Veterans will remember the basics from previous games, but newcomers aren’t overwhelmed at the start. Indeed, even by the third biome I was still getting tutorials to help better what I had been doing so far and it felt like a natural progression.
Each biome has a few side quests that can be unlocked by performing specific actions in the main levels. Whether that be finding a hidden character, beating the local high scores or completing the newly added ‘gnarly routes’ – more difficult sections of a level – unlocking a side quest brings its own gameplay. A particular favourite had me trying to beat a grizzly bear in a rubber ring down some rapids.
If all that wasn’t enough, OlliOlli World introduces the addictive Seasons. After completing the first area in the main game, head to Gnarvana for The Gnarvana League. A daily level is selected, and you can join a league of nine other players for online asynchronous multiplayer. Finish the league in a high enough position come the end of the day and you’ll progress through the rankings. Because these reset daily, you do not have to spend days or weeks impatiently waiting to see if your best run is good enough. And if you don’t get the intended result, there is always tomorrow to try again.
Finally, there is The Gnarvana Portal. For those players who have exhausted every other option, these are randomly generated levels for literally endless replayability. Choose your biome, difficulty and length and OlliOlli World will generate a postcode. Play the level, share the postcode with your friends or save it as a favourite. When a game with already enough content also includes this unlimited mode, you know you are going to spend many an hour in Radlandia.
The OlliOlli games had already created a firm foundation for whatever came next in the series but OlliOlli World has helped elevate the series to must-play levels. Under this cartoonish look is one of the best skateboarding games of all time. It offers a different perspective – quite literally being in 2D – but don’t let that fool you; it is one of the most polished skateboarding titles out there. Easy to pick up and tricky to master, it perfectly introduces newcomers by not overwhelming them. But it doesn’t drip feed tutorials either, maintaining the same fine balance players need when out skating to hit the highest scores.
And there is enough side content to keep players engaged for a long time too, at least until the DLC comes out.
Skate to your heart’s content in OlliOlli World on Xbox