I have to admit to knowing next to nothing about skateboarding, therefore when I received Roll7's Vita exclusive, OlliOlli, for review I had to learn the difference between a grind and trick as I went along. Thankfully this likeable 2D title makes it ever so easy by providing simple controls and graphics which are easy on the eye and best of all, it's fun too.
What's great about OlliOlli is that it's a great game to pass some time. Levels are just long enough that if you are on go, you can get through in five minutes at a time. The goal is a simple one, just string together as many tricks and combos as you can and get a huge score. The only thing you need to know is that keeping your board off the ground is the only way to combo, therefore, the more you grind between rails and other objects in the environment, the higher the score you'll get.
Getting a high score is where the brilliant controls come into play. Pressing the X button will get you started, then by holding down the analogue stick and letting go you'll launch your character up into the air, before using the stick once again to pull off all manner of tricks depending on the direction in which you push. Landing is all about timing, therefore if you press X and get the timing right the game will reward you both with points and a perfect mark, get it wrong however and you'll be told how sloppy you are.
When you get more confident you can start to explore the game's vast array of tricks, grinds and spins, although it's not always easy to notice the difference thanks to the combination of the basic graphics and the Vita's small screen. With over 120 tricks and grinds combined there is certainly a lot to play around with and once you get past the Amateur levels and start to explore places like the Port, Military Base and Neon City, you'll need all of the skills you have learnt along the way to rack up those high scores.
As well as the standard Career level, OlliOlli also has a few other tricks up its sleeves in the form of a Daily Grind and a Spots mode. Daily Grind gives you one chance to set the best score for the day in a set location, allowing you to aim for the ultimate accolade of being the day's best player; You can practice before taking on the challenge for real, so make sure to get all of the mistakes out of the way before you do. The trick to winning in Daily Grind is to pull off as many tricks and grinds as you can, because once your board hits the floor it's challenge over. Spots Mode works in the same way in that as soon as your board hits the floor the challenge ends, the difference here being that you can try and 'claim' each location and you can also take part in the challenge as often as you like, which is great as the online leaderboards are constantly changing.
OlliOlli is a very satisfying game which feels completely at home on the PS Vita. The presentation and controls seems to fit the PS Vita perfectly and playing the game on the go makes for a very satisfying experience. Even if, like me, you are not really a fan of skateboarding, you'll still get plenty of enjoyment and fun out of OlliOlli, so give some grinding a go, you never know, you might like it.
Words by Joe Anderson
@_wotta | PSN/Xbox LIVE: wotta
(Version Tested: PS Vita)
OlliOlli will be available to download on PS Vita in the EU from Wednesday 22nd January for £ 7.99.
+ Looks Great on the Vita's small screen
+ Lots of fun challenges
+ Good for short bursts of gaming
- Perhaps a little expensive for what it is