OlliOlli World

If you’re anything like me, nothing tickles the nostalgic ivories than Tony Hawk Pro Skater. Even a song from the soundtrack is enough to take me back to my mothers cooking, school friends and awkward encounters with girls.

OlliOlli is a largely mobile-friendly franchise that captured some of that, albeit with a very fresh take on controls and how to view skating through a games lens. Instead of copying anything previously, it went full-on arcade side-scrolly. Where the similarities kick into THPS is the frustration that you feel when you miss a move, fail a level, etc.

OlliOlli World is a much more ambitious take on the side scrolling adventure skate game. It mixes the fun of the original gameplay, adds some Super Mario World mechanics into the “open world” environment, and keeps that high-octane skill based gameplay to keep you hungry. In fact, that difficulty level, beautiful visuals and world building is why this is less comparable to Tony Hawk, and more to Mario.

The story moves along neatly between skate sessions

Progression in the game brings you to new parts of the level. Or into whole new sections of the world entirely. And as you complete missions to impress the skate gods, in the hopes of ascending to deity status yourself, you’ll unlock new swag for yourself or your board.

The main gameplay mechanic is pretty familiar. The game is less emphatic about landing each move than it is doing new and interesting things. The progression from moving forward to hand-crippling manoeuvres takes quite a while, as mechanics are introduced gradually. Much to the mercy of, well, me.

For OlliOlli fans, new tricks are in the mix. Grabs complement moves on quarterpipes & branching paths; which take advantage of the new side-scrolling 3d world to explore. Grinds can be tweaked while in-motion, too. But most of your controls will happen with the left stick. Which, for me at least, is a jarring way to control. I find myself hitting ‘x,’ many hours into the game, to jump.

Skill expectations are introduced gradually, but the game also has checkpoints in levels. Though the game rewards you for not using them.

Where you’ll get frustrated is, as you progress, timings become more critical. Especially if you want to get 100% on levels/sections. This is where the comparison to Mario or Tony Hawk become meaningful. You’ll toy with shutting it down versus continuing on to save your future self from having to dredge through a section again. And all because you’re hitting ‘x’ when you need to hit something on the left analogue stick!

Overall, I love this game. OlliOlli was always something that sat well with me, but not well enough for me to plough numbers of hours into it. This time, and perhaps because of a gap in the game release roster, I feel sold on it. The graphics are super slick, the mechanics are equal parts rewarding and challenging, and the soundtrack is on-point as usual.