OlliOlli World is the third game in the popular series that first made its home on the PlayStation Vita (RIP). The indie darling series has advanced with each entry, but all I can remember with my short time on the Vita versions was how brazenly difficult the titles are. The graphics were of a pixelated nature, the audio quality was impressive, and the gameplay was tight and mechanically sound. As the third game in the series, OlliOlli World has improved on every single aspect of its predecessors.
Upon starting OlliOlli World, the art style is phenomenally cartoonish and seems to take some inspiration from the Adventure Time TV series. It works very well here, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see a ‘Jake the dog’ costume happen either in the game, or as DLC, considering it has been promised for the title. The world of Radlandia is filled with gnar, and the audio, while very tame, works in tandem with the title like the game and soundtrack were made for each other.
The plot is simple, the previous Skate Wizard is retiring, and it’s up to your created skater to take the reins as the next Wizard. After crafting a possible Frankenstein skater, you are thrown into the world first of tutorials, and these are completely necessary. The slow pace of the tutorials placed strategically between levels is very well done, it never feels too slow, and more importantly, it never feels like you’re being thrown into the rapids without an oar.
The band of characters in OlliOlli World are a sightly bunch, with Gnarly Mike—who gives you challenges for each stage—as a guy who continuously slams his skateboard on the ground, Suze, who is the prolific camera personnel, Dad, who isn’t really anyone’s dad, it’s just his nickname, and lastly, Chiffon the retired Skate Wizard who double functions as a majestic stage checkpoint. Although only one of these characters carries the ‘Dad’ name, all of them constantly engage in gratuitous amounts of dad-jokes, and I am totally here for it.
“The band of characters in OlliOlli World are a sightly bunch…”
The writing in OlliOlli World was taken out of a dad’s back pocket notepad who goes throughout the day and records ‘oh that’s funny!’ thoughts. There are words like “Gnarvana” which made me outwardly chuckle, and at one point a character actually said “Beach, please.” The writing is witty and never takes itself too seriously, which is a breath of fresh air. The characters themselves get tired of their jokes also as they plead with each other to ‘please not’ when on the precipice of finishing a joke. Great humour all around.
The level design and biome structure of Radlandia are done incredibly well in OlliOlli World. Each segment of gameplay streamlines into one another without effort and operates as a cohesive unit. Each stage brings something new with each learned tutorial. The Skate Gods the player meets on the path to becoming Wizard are also designed with character, such as the cyclops with an entirely leaf head, Flora.
The gameplay is silky smooth in OlliOlli World, the controls function exactly as they’re supposed to, and the sound effects are top-notch. ‘Slamming’ into a wall has never been so satisfying, and the whipping of the board with a flip trick sounds gnar. Doing tricks with the left analog stick, which also doubles as the jump button, is a neat concept, and it works very well. Chaining together combos with grinds, wall rides, manuals, and even grabs is very satisfying. The difficulty was taken down a much-needed notch from the Vita days, but it still amps up considerably as the game pushes forward. There are some really tight platforming segments that require perfection, and it is rad when you pull them off.
“Doing tricks with the left analog stick, which also doubles as the jump button, is a neat concept, and it works very well.”
Each attempt at a stage that ends in failure makes the player want to try again. It is a fun experience that gets addicting. The ‘one more run’ feel is present with each attempt. Although the side quest where you must race a bear down a river is almost impossible, The Flash has competition.
Gnarly Mike’s challenges in each stage give the player three objectives to best while flying through, and they are CHALLENGING. Anywhere from landing specific tricks at specific moments or finding hidden goodies in a stage can be on this list. These add something fresh to each stage and grant a solid amount of replay ability without feeling overdone. Gnarly, indeed.
The way a player does ‘advanced tricks’ is by swivelling the analog stick in a method like activating special moves in Street Fighter. This small control scheme can isolate players who can’t pull off these techniques, as in middling stages, it’s almost essential that the player has at least a decent grip on how to pull off certain tricks at will. But, if a player merely wants to just get through the game, all they need is solid platform timing.
“Each attempt at a stage that ends in failure makes the player want to try again.”
One thing I noticed while playing OlliOlli World, is that for gamers with completion in mind, they should aim to first hit all the challenges in a stage, then aim for the ‘finish the level without using checkpoints.’ It was kind of disheartening to get through a difficult stage without slamming, to then go back and do the challenges, and ultimately find out my ‘no checkpoint’ run was taken away because I retried the stage. Hopefully, this becomes so that if a ‘no checkpoint’ run is completed, it stays that way even when retrying a stage.
There are NO MICROTRANSACTIONS in OlliOlli World, everything can be earned by either completing all challenges in a stage, or finishing side quests, all the way from new tricks to ultimate cosmetic items. It’s also a super cool nod to the Tony Hawk legacy by including aliens in the game’s canon. Honestly, what can’t happen in Radlandia?
OlliOlli World is a fantastic little title that does exactly what it sets out to do, and that is to provide a really smooth platforming experience that is a feast for the eyes. While the segments between stages drops the frame rate by quite a bit during animations, the gameplay remains unaffected. While the title slowly takes your hand and guides you through the mechanics, you will find yourself in a hard, yet satisfying, platforming experience.