Two years ago I purchased a Playstation VITA and one of the first games I fell in love with on the system came from a little known developer called Olli Olli. It was an incredibly simple concept a high score based, side-scrolling skateboarding game with sublime animation, tight nuanced controls and an addictive core.
Olli Olli was one of my favourite games of 2014 and narrowly missed out on my GOTY that year! It will surprise no-one to learn that when its sequel was released in January last year for free on PS Plus I was first in line to download my copy.
It should also be no surprise that it was one of my favourite games of last year and it narrowly missed out on being on my GOTY list!
Olli Olli 2 really takes its cues on sequel making from the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skaterboarding franchise, iteration rather than revolution is the order of the day here. Everything that made the first so good has been refined to within an inch of perfection and Roll 7 have added a subtle (but game changing) manual.
Simply put Olli Olli 2 is what a sequel should be – take everything that made the original so great, improve them slightly and add one new mechanic.
It might sound strange to applaud a game for taking this attitude; but when we’re dealing with such a tight, nuanced and almost perfect video game; why not applaud its design decisions? Especially as there is literally nothing from the original game that hasn’t been improved here!
Speaking of decisions; Roll 7 made a huge decision in completely overhauling the graphical engine for this sequel. And while I was disappointed when I saw the first screenshots, however I really need not have been. Everything in Olli Olli 2 has the appearance of being hand-drawn and it is absolutely beautiful from the exquisitely animated skaters, to the levels and everything in between! The two most striking differences this makes however is the fact that everything looks much more vibrant; the world is much more colourful and everything feels more “fun”; the levels in the original were all dull industrial levels with very little colour.
The second difference is now every move you pull off on your board now look distinct from one another. I never noticed it at the time, but flicking between this and the original it is striking at how much this has improved the experience – it builds your confidence in your own ability and allows you to more accurately time your execution…
…and this game is all about perfect execution.
Olli Olli 2 is brutually difficult at first, one fall ends your run there is no such thing as a do-over. However the game is structured in a logical way; the levels are split into five distinct world and each world teaches you both a new skill and allows you to hone it. Each level is incredibly well-designed, while there is an optimal route through each there is also a massive amount of room for experimentation. Through practice, memorisation and being bold you will naturally end up on the optimal route. This is a sign of the level of care that Roll7 has taken with this game, and a further sign of their genius in the genre.
This structure also means that there is a tangible sense of progression; what seems a ludicrously difficult challenge in world 1 becomes routine by world 5 – the game naturally builds your skill and with enough time and practice anyone can finish a level with 5 stars. The elite will finish a level in one combo and there is little more achievements in gaming that are more satisfying than finishing a level in one trick combo.
Everything about Olli Olli 2 is thought out and implemented with great care from with exemplar gameplay and mechanics to the mountain of content, it is a genuine must buy for game lovers. My only fear is that Roll7 have perfected this series and we’ll see no more entries into it; but at least we have two incredible games!
I’ll see you all in the daily grind!