Wednesday
Feb122014

QCF: OlliOlli

he snap of your deck as the concave flips around your feet, and the shock of landing clean against the ground, sending tremors through the soles of your feet; these are one of the few highs that skateboarding can induce, and it’s been some time that it’s been relevant in video games. While The Birdman took a stab at endorsing the concept of a plastic peripheral that was intended to heighten the appeal skateboarding in video games through physical simulation, the results were far less than stellar, and EA has done little to nothing with its SKATE series since the last entry underperformed in sales back in 2010.

Leave it to an independent studio by the name of Roll7 to introduce one of the most graceful return-to-forms for the genre; OlliOlli is one of the best thumb-twitching reasons to own a Vita.

The two most popular skateboard game franchises offered polarizing dynamics from one another. Skate focused on articulate control that enforced true-to-life skateboarding physics when executing tricks and stunts on the pavement while the Tony Hawk line encouraged arcade styled play centered on allowing chain of tricks and maneuvers on the course to almost-cartoon like proportions when mechanically contrasted against the real deal. It’s here where OlliOlli succeeds first and foremost; it finds the perfect synergy between these different elements and rolls all the way to the bank with them.

What sets apart the appeal of this gem above its peers are the elements it liberally borrows from them and how they’re used from the moment you boot up the career mode. Control is configured through minimalist use of the right analog stick, shoulder buttons, and X button—nothing else. 

All of the impressive coups and guiles from concrete surfing are mapped around how the analog stick is flicked and various combinations of the shoulder buttons; from quarter circles to chargebacks, all tricks and grinds executed are then leaned on how impeccable the landing is through timed press of the X button. The hybrid use of fighting game special move input that’s reactive through quirks that range from play position awareness to skill-demanding challenges founded upon sharp thumb jolts quickly begins boosts the degree of engagement  within minutes of play. Whizzing in and out of flatland tricks to grinds to string combos may tread some painfully familiar territory but the nameless wood-pusher ‘s grace on the mechanic will have you forget the birdman’s name after minutes of playing. The flicking and tapping mechanics will slowly ingrain into an organic motion of balance between ease and fluidity and the demand for skill and patience required to come out on top into a seamless exercise that’s hard to put down.

 The physics and mechanics as articulate as they are however, still owe their hook to the pristine level design that consistently sinks you deeper into the deceptively deep rabbit hole of stunts and maneuvers within OlliOlli.

Every stage is a gauntlet of set pieces deliberately situated to elicit an impulsive reaction of flatland flips and grinds to reach the end, and reaching the end isn’t even the half of it. Aside from conquering the stage itself, each of the levels you advance to are all laced with additional objectives in its design to complete on top of reaching the goal, getting harder and harder as it moves on, and yet, the results truly squeeze out the best content that title has to offer. Ranging anywhere from collecting 5 fish at the pier to clearing a gap over a pile of garbage trash by Frontside big-spinning into a Noseslide out on a series of cranes without touching the ground; OlliOlli consistently pushes the envelope from beginning to end through its gambits of challenges .

The Vita is picking up steam between its support of features like Cross-buy and remote-play, but the system has seen very many must own titles; which is why it’s so refreshing today that Olliolli is not only one of those titles on the list, but it’s easily near the top of that list as well.

 

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