There’s a definite progression to Roll7’s OlliOlli series. Evolving from it’s heavily pixelated origins to what we see in OlliOlli World: A fresh brightly colored animation feast to the senses. Its predecessor promises a sheer improvement to the original formula in almost every way.
Much of the gameplay sticks close to what we’ve seen in previous OlliOlli games. The left stick is for flip-tricks and grinds, while the right stick is for grabs. There’s also rotational controls for spins on the triggers. After that it’s up to you, the player, to figure out how to tie it all together to create sick combos for high scores. Here’s where you’ll experience the first improvement to the recipe.
In previous games, you would have to hit the A button on landing or experience your character being disoriented from an improper landing. Not anymore. That landing system still exists, but only acts as a bonus point; not an essential part of your moves and that is a breath of fresh air. It removes the initial difficulty barrier with extra button timing, and feels like a more welcoming game overall. Stair and Wall rides are a new addition that enhance the flow and add another move in your repertoire. There’s also multiplayer options for asynchronous competitive multiplayer and online rankings for those who want to see how their scores compare to the community.
Sure, changing the landing mechanic simplifies the gameplay, but the real complexity exists in the new track switching system. Now throughout each level, there are branching paths in the back or foreground that can be explored with a simple press of the X button at junctions. So not only are there varying paths within a single track, there’s whole new sections of the level to explore that can ramp up the difficulty and give new environmental features or even side quests. Yes, now we have side quests.
Side Quests are unlocked via story progression or with non player characters hidden within branching paths of a level. These tend to be a bonus level with new goals or high score challenges, generally rewarding new gear or styles for your character. The map is a set of 5 environments with 15-20 levels within each. Adding in multiple goals per level, side quests and even unlockable secondary routes later in the story makes a lot of content to explore and even more reasons to replay a level. Plus loot rewards to increase the massive amounts of ways to customize your character make the variety impressive.
The most noticeable upgrade in OlliOlli World is the animation style. The gameplay has expanded into a full 2.5D world fully animated into a “Saturday Morning Cartoon” aesthetic that is bursting at the seams with character. Skating is smoothly rendered with immense detail and the 2D to slight 3D transition is a nice surprise. These occur usually mid level, where your character will go around a turn or into a second route. It’s a slight camera shift that adds a new flavor to what used to be very barebones.
The story welcomes a new skater to the land of Radlandia, a skate-topia ruled by 5 skate gods. With your gang of friends, you travel to each section of the island meeting the deities on your way to “Gnarvana.” It’s a solid excuse to shred each level and push your limits across deserts, deep forests, oil covered cities and ice cream covered beachside properties. The only real knock against the game itself is that there is a conversation amongst your friends (Chiffon, Suze, Dad and Gnarly Mike) before and after each level with their animations stuttering as they talk. So while there’s an overabundant amount of skippable dialogue, the stuttering in the animations feels like a weird choice. The skating is so silky smooth that seeing your friends stutter like bad animatronics plays as poor optimization. It’s only a slight gripe overall.
As a veteran player of these games and real life skateboarder it’s easy to appreciate what these games do. While they seem like simplified Tony Hawk games, there’s a lot more depth in the grinds and flips with a surprising amount of accuracy. That being said, OlliOlli World improves on the blueprint laid out in previous entries in almost every way. The animation is impressively overhauled, the level design is intricate while evolving, and the gameplay is as smooth as butter with even more ways to flow. There’s something to be said about iterative evolution but this is on another level of progression that makes the older games harder to go back to. Trust me, I tried and it was a grind.