‘OlliOlli World’ is a fun but deceptively difficult skateboarding game

OlliOlli and its sequel, OlliOlli 2: Welcome to Olliwood, are notoriously difficult to master. This side-scrolling skateboarding games start out pretty easy, but if you want to complete all the challenges, be prepared to play and replay some levels dozens of times. It can be infuriating, but also extremely satisfying to pull off the right combo of tips and tricks needed for a big score.

I was worried that OlliOlli World, a new direction for the series which arrives on February 8, was going to do without this level of challenge. After playing an extended preview of the game over the past week, I’m no longer concerned. Developer Roll7 has created a game that’s significantly more accessible than the original titles, but still keeps the shake-response gameplay and high-scoring chasing highs intact for those who fancy it.

For the uninitiated, OlliOlli World is a 2.5D skateboard platformer where your character simply has to get from one end of the course to the other while performing as many tricks and combos as possible. It’s the same basic formula as the original games, but the scope of OlliOlli World East many bigger. The game is split into five different areas, three of which were playable in my demo. The first, Sunshine Valley, had almost 20 distinct levels, a handful of which were just practice levels meant to introduce the basics of skating, grinding, and performing different tricks. But even if you don’t count those levels, there’s so much more to explore in OlliOlli World than the previous two games, each of which had 50 levels in total.

There are tons of ways to challenge yourself as you skate through these levels. To start, you have to navigate crushing rails, gaps, ramps, and other obstacles to get to the end before you can progress. In a concession to the game’s history of killer difficulty, however, levels now have checkpoints – so if you blast it to 90% of the level, you can try that last segment again. Of course, if you had a huge combo in progress that was interrupted, you’d lose that opportunity for big points. But it at least makes it easier to learn the levels and work on the problem areas without having to repeat the whole course.

But the levels are both extremely well designed and visually interesting, so I was eager to play them and replay them until I mastered all the challenges and found as many secrets as possible. The world is populated with colorful and fantastic creatures like walking bananas, smiling trees, giant bees holding signs you can climb on the wall, huge frogs (sometimes riding these giant bees) and, of course, the Skate Godz you encounter at the end of each world.

Roll7

You see, your character is on a quest to become the new Skate Wizard, with the help of a wacky and charming animated crew, including Chiffon, the current one-eyed, pipe-smoking Skate Wizard who’s ready to retire. To take their place, you’ll need to encounter all of the Skate Godz that inhabit the five different areas you can play in. Each level has banter with your crew as well as people you meet on your travels, full of ridiculous puns and occasional advice on how to improve your scores or pull off new moves. You can skip it if you want, but it helped me get into the free space of the beautiful world of Radlandia.

It is difficult to sum up in words what makes the individual levels in OlliOlli World so compelling, but they mix serious challenges with moments that really let you get into that elusive flow state, where you’re just performing tricks, riding rails and generally tearing up a course without thinking too much about what you’re doing. done. The music, sound effects, art style, level design, and variety of moves you can perform all contribute to this vibe – and while the game is entirely different from its predecessors, the end result is the same: the happiness of skateboarding.

My skills from the original OlliOlli games have been translated here, but there’s plenty of new stuff to challenge long-time players. The game is no longer directly 2D, meaning there are multiple paths you can discover through many levels, which seriously adds to the replayability and challenge of those levels. Each level has several objectives presented to you at the start, and achieving all of them will almost certainly require multiple playthroughs, especially as the game progresses and the tracks become more complex.

Indeed, by the time I got about halfway to third world in the game, I was having serious trouble checking off all the objectives for a level. The good news is that you can keep progressing without completing all three challenges, and you also aren’t penalized for using checkpoints, but the game is so well designed that I wanted to keep going back and try to improve my previous scores and achieve these goals.

OlliOlli World

Roll7

There are lots of new moves like grabs to perform, and quarter pipes let you change the direction your skater is going. Sounds simple, but having your skater go right to left instead of the other way around really threw me for a loop, but I also clapped audibly the first time I skated in the one of those quarter pipes. They add a whole new dimension to the game that I didn’t expect.

It’s also worth mentioning some of the other ways Roll7 has made this game more accessible than previous ones. Besides the aforementioned checkpoints, it’s much harder to take down now. Previous games required you to press a button when landing, otherwise you would lose all your momentum as well as the points you accumulated through a trick. Now you can land without having to worry about this step, but landing so-called “perfect” landings increases your speed and score.

The main game is a deep experience, but Roll7 has added new features for those who like chasing high scores. Each time you complete a level, you will see the score of a rival player that you are then challenged with. It’s subtle, just showing your rival’s high score below your high score – but these challenges prompted me to play a few extra rounds to try and beat this challenge. OlliOlli World is smart enough to match you with players of your own skill level, so if your high score is over 100,000, you won’t be challenged to beat someone who got 1 million on a level; rival scores are usually around 20% higher than your high score. This is good encouragement to push yourself even harder through a level.

OlliOlli World also features daily challenges through the Gnarvana League, which you unlock once you complete the first area of ​​the game. Here, you join a league where you compete against nine competitors who again skate at a skill level similar to your own. The levels change every day and you just try to get the highest score in your group. As you play, you can be promoted to other leagues, where the courses will likely become more difficult. I will freely admit that after putting up a score that put me top of my group, I kept my eyes on the league throughout the day to see if I needed to play it again and improve my score to keep this first place.

OlliOlli World

Roll7

Finally, there’s a random level generator that you can use to challenge your friends or strangers to get their high score. The Gnarvana portal is extremely simple, allowing you to choose the “style” of a level, based on the game’s five main worlds. You can then choose one of four difficulty levels and set the duration of the course. Once generated, you can share this course via an eight-digit zip code. This code allows anyone else to try out your level, no matter what platform they play on, and you’re once again competing to see who can get the highest score. The fun thing is that anyone can try this, so you can give the postcode to a few close friends, or post it online and challenge whoever you want.

For the first time in an OlliOlli game, you can also customize your character to your liking. There’s a ton of clothing options, hairstyles, skateboard designs, skin color options, and more, and you’ll unlock so much more by checking off the different challenges each level offers. Unlike the single, generic male skater design of the first two games, here you can create a character that truly matches your personality.

There are a ton of games here for $30, and the Roll7 team has at least two DLC expansions planned for later this year (both are included if you order the $45 Rad Edition). If you even have a passing interest in skateboarding or platformer games, OlliOlli World absolutely worth your time. It’s deeper, brighter, bigger, and more fun than the original games, and I expect it to be a hit with hardcore OlliOllli fanatics as well as a much wider new audience that feels for the first time the thrill of this series of meditative skating.

OlliOlli World will be available on Switch, PS4, PS5, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One and PC on February 8.

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