Tight Trucks Don’t Make a Smooth Ride
OlliOlli is the definition of a love/hate relationship. One moment I’m destroying every goal it sets in front of me, and the next I’m trying not to destroy my controller. The game approaches the skate genre in a way I’ve never seen before by combining side-scrolling levels with unconventional controls. By utilizing strict timing windows, players have to command their skating avatar with mastery in order to conquer all of the challenges offered. However, the uncompromising nature of OlliOlli’s mechanics began to feel more like an obstacle, and my inconsistency in executing tricks had me wondering who was actually at fault.
I want to give credit where credit is due; OlliOlli is very creative. Tricks aren’t mapped to buttons like in traditional skate games, but rather are performed by doing various quarter, half, or full rotations with the thumbstick. It employs the stick movements of fighting games like Street Fighter, while allowing you to spin using the shoulder buttons. Simple and straightforward. The few minutes it took to acclimate myself to this control scheme were a small tax to pay in exchange for a fresh experience.
The real depth comes in timing your landing or grinds. By pressing “X” or slamming onto a rail within a very specific window, your avatar will gain speed and a score boost. The exaltation felt when the neon green “Perfect!” blasted my scores sky high was a stark contrast to the acute dismay brought by the red word “Sloppy” that destroyed my combo and momentum.
However, with the fighting game-like control scheme and timing comes the guaranteed confusion when what happens on the screen wasn’t at all what your fingers were trying to accomplish. Just like champions of Street Fighter can pull off combos and frame-traps that I can never hope to execute, I have no doubt there are gamers who can make any feat in OlliOlli look easy. This game isn’t unfair in its control scheme, it’s just so damn unforgiving. There were times when I was truly baffled as my avatar would ollie instead of kickflip, hang stagnant in the air instead of spinning, or somehow miss a grind and tumble down the stairs in a bloody crescendo. My mood would go from calm, to elated, to enraged. After a while I just had to walk away.
Even though I’ve hit my skill and patience limit with OlliOlli, I implore everyone to try it. It features over 50 levels, its control scheme is creative, and the music is superb. Seriously, the soundtrack goes from trance-inducing electronic to mellow jazz, and rounds out with driving hip-hop. Every track is better than the music you’ll find on the radio. Plus, if you’re better than me, OlliOlli offers several layers of challenges, multiple stages to master, and a high score mode that will allow you to compete on leaderboards. I, however, will not be exploring these extra offerings because my blood pressure simply can’t handle it
Edited by: Malia Hamilton