It’s been almost five years since gamers have last had the opportunity to play a brand new skateboarding videogame. It’s been even longer since a skateboarding videogame has landed on a Nintendo platform. Well, that is until now. Independent game studio, Roll7 in collaboration with Curve Digital, have decided to rerelease their 2014 version of OlliOlli onto the Nintendo Wii U and 3DS. Even though this title is considered to be a port, OlliOlli is an extremely fun videogame to play and I must say it happens to be my favorite videogame of 2015 thus far. Here’s why.
In the late 90’s and through the next generation, the gaming industry became over saturated with skateboarding titles. Tony Hawk installments put this particular genre on the map, while EA’s skate reinvented the wheel and changed the way players control and explore their surroundings. Since then the wheel has been left unintended and Roll7 has decided to do something about it.
OlliOlli is a 2D skateboarding title that includes mechanics that aren’t revolutionarily game changing, but happen to change the way skateboarding enthusiasts consume this particular piece of content. Instead of allowing players to traverse through an open-world area, OlliOlli places the skater in a more linear setting as it works as an “On the rails” experience. By stripping away unlockable areas and removing the cliché roster of professional skaters, OlliOlli focuses more on performing tricks and spins which reminds the individual the game is about having fun, not about soliciting energy drinks and publishers. This was a nice change of pace and certainly kept things simple. It definitely had me coming back for more and I appreciate the fact that I can just play this videogame without worrying about anything other than landing my tricks and having a great time.
The coolest thing about OlliOlli is that this title happens to be a cross-buy opportunity for those who own both a Wii U and Nintendo 3DS. Both versions of the videogame are completely identical in regards to button controls and visual appearances, so there’s no need to worry about relearning the videogame if you choose to transition between platforms. What is unfortunate, however, is the fact that OlliOlli doesn’t take advantage of the respective systems. For instance, the Wii U version of the videogame allows players to switch to gamepad mode, which basically turns the experience into the 3DS version and the 3DS version fails to implement 3D functionality into gameplay. The two are parable in those aspects but the worst offender of them all is the complete absence of tough-screen integration. I can deal with the parity between both versions, but the lack of touch screen implementation only makes the reality of this game being a port, more real.
At heart, I like to think of OlliOlli as an arcade experience that emphasizes heavily on score-based moves and impossible to accomplish in real-life stunts. That’s where Roll7 nails it on the head and gets it right. It realizes it’s a videogame and knows it doesn’t have to possess hundreds of bells and whistles to be great. In OlliOlli, the player just has to put enough time and effort into learning the game. Just like in real life, practice makes perfect so the more time you invest in learning something, the greater the outcome will be.
If there’s an incentive to keep skating, it’s the videogames amazing soundtrack that trumps every song you’ve heard in every skateboarding videogame you’ve played. That’s, right. I said it. With a well blended mixture of sounds, beats and ambiance, OlliOllis’ soundtrack makes me want to go outside and skate. I honestly cannot remember the last time a video game has inspired me to go outside and be active. The musical score seems to be well diverse and complies of an incredible mixture of techno, east-coast hip-hop and trance instrumentals that inevitably inspires the body to move. Some may say “Silence is bliss” but in the case of OlliOlli, musical integration in this sense is completely essential and wonderful to listen to.
When it comes to skateboarding videogames, OlliOlli doesn’t revolutionize the genre; but it does manage to provide a fresh breathe of air that reinvigorates the passion individuals once possessed prior to the genre going on hiatus. It’s incredible how Roll7 doesn’t bother with stunning visuals or worries about which professional skateboarder is to make an appearance in the videogame. OlliOlli is all about keeping things simple for the player and by removing the cliché from the equation, you get hours upon hours of entertainment as an end result. Sure, landing flip-tricks while avoiding face-plants requires a bit of your time to perfect, but, once you get the hang of it you can easily become addicted to the immersive gameplay while instantaneously becoming mesmerized by the euphoric soundtrack. OlliOlli isn’t your typical skateboarding experience. It’s better.