Style: 1-Player Action Sports
Release: January 21
The Bottom Line: 8/10
Concept: A 2D scrolling skating title using elements of the runner sub-genre
Graphics: Sharp pixel graphics are at home on the Vita. The backdrops stand out but don’t distract, and the foreground objects are discernible even at high speeds
Sound: Low-key but not bland. Includes tracks from Qemists, Dorian Concept, and Flako
Playability: The tight radius and grip top of the Vita’s left analog stick can obscure tricks, but it also helps
Entertainment: OlliOlli captures the key qualities of a skate game: a deep trick system, bite-sized gameplay as well as longer runs, and an addictive nature
Replay Value: Moderately High
Skateboarding Kickflips Its Way To The PlayStation Vita
Skating video games have waxed and waned through the years, with the Skate and Tony Hawk franchises the most recent casualties of gamers’ fickle love affair with handrails and kickflips. Despite the infrequent success of the sport in video games, when done right it contains a hook that satisfies many of our base gaming urges. The Vita may seem like an odd choice to house your latest session with the sport, but OlliOlli contains all the twitch gameplay, trick combos, and high score addictiveness to make it the latest resident pro.
The heart of any skating game is its trick system, and OlliOlli’s delivers both a breadth of tricks and a fluid control scheme to pull them off. The fact that you can execute them without using the X button to ollie like in other titles streamlines tricks, and although the Vita’s small left analog stick occasionally obscures the process (including using the shoulder buttons for spins and modifiers), the handheld is more than adequate for the task.
Marrying the trick system with a runner-like 2D scrolling where you are constantly moving forward at various speeds and must avoid obstacles that are certain death gives the game the rhythm of a platformer. Catching big air and busting big tricks while you’re trying to hit the right rails pulls you into that focused state of mind (and elevated heart rate) where your hands move without thought and the gooey fun center of your brain lights up just as automatically. I also like how the game requires you to nail landings (with the X button), adding another layer to your hands’ flurry.
OlliOlli’s addictiveness is meted out over multiple stages in six different locations, and challenge is added with two difficulty tiers. Complete all the objectives in the amateur level and you unlock the pro one. You can also take a crack at a daily grind challenge, where you get only one chance to post your score alongside the world’s best. Similarly, Spots mode tasks you to string together your best combo.
Street skating is all about adapting to your surroundings and making a skate spot out of anything that crosses your path. Don’t pass this game up or you’re going to miss a killer session.
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