OlliOlli PC Review: Once more, with more bruising
In February this year, I reviewed one of the most deceptively challenging 2D skateboarding games for the Vita, OlliOlli. Despite its inviting pixelated charm, it remains as one of the most mechanically complex skateboarding games to date. I'll toot my own horn when it comes to the Tony Hawk games and say that I can carry a point score to the millions thanks to cleverly transitioning from ramps to manuals to rails and so forth. OlliOlli, on the other hand, has me constantly on my toes due to the fast-paced nature of levels and necessity of split-second twitch reactions.
As the game remains virtually unchanged from its Vita counterpart, you can check out the full review of that right here. Here are a few bulletpoints from the original review:
Even though OlliOlli borrows its goal oriented levels from Tony Hawk, which task you with goals like "nail a certain amount of grinds," "pick up a certain number of spray cans," or "reach a given high score," the controls have much more in common with EA's Skate series. After you get yourself up to speed with the X button, your jumps and air tricks are all done with the thumbstick. When you hold the thumbstick in a direction, your skater gets ready for a jump, then by flicking the stick to another direction, he'll perform a trick. The key to scoring the most amount of points is to chain these tricks together through jumps and grinds. The longer you can chain tricks the together, the higher the multiplier goes, and naturally, the more points you'll bank when you land. However, there's a catch.
To bank the points from a combo, you actually have to also nail the landing by pressing the X button as soon the wheels touch the ground. Fail to press the button, and that multiplier is gone, essentially putting your hard work to waste. It's this mechanic that makes OlliOlli such a challenge. Nailing that perfect timing when you land will certainly take some time to master.
The levels themselves offer some really impressive runs, once you get used to the layout of each one. That usually means a few trial and error runs until it clicks, and you realize the exact places to ollie, grind, trick, then grind again, ollie off and land and repeat until the end of the level. That's not to say that there's one perfect way to have a good run per level. Therein lies the beauty of OlliOlli's design, which proves that even if you just spent an hour perfecting a run on a single level (that usually lasts about 30 seconds mind you) there will be another player who scored a few points higher, and the game will constantly remind you of that.
The one thing I took away from my time with the Steam version of OlliOlli is that the game lends itself much better to a standard sized controller, rather than the Vita's tiny thumbsticks. I often had a hard time controlling the arcs of thumbsticks to perform a specific trick. The game would register my flick as a simple Ollie, even though I tried to just pull off an Impossible. That was frustrating for levels that required a higher point score, since pulling off more difficult tricks and stringing them into combos will help you reach that score more easily.
I played the PC version with the Xbox One controller, and found it to work pretty well. Sure there were still the occasional hiccups where I didn't pull off the right trick, but this time I felt like it was due to my personal error with the thumbstick, rather than it not registering it right due to its tiny size.
As for which version is better: since they're both identical in everything except controls and where you're playing it, it will really just come down to personal preference. It's one of those games that are structured to work superbly as a pick up and play title when you're on the go, but given the ability to play with a controller just make it that much better. If you've waited to pick this title up or perhaps didn't have a Vita to play it on, then the Steam version, given that it's priced the same, is the way to go.