Ever since mobile games took off there has been a huge amount of growth in the forced runner space, with most people finding them crazily addictive to the point of no return. Very few of the games have really made their name on consoles but Runner 2 and Bit.Trip.Runner are a couple that did make the grade. OlliOlli is another to take a stab at the genre, and while the game released a good while ago it has only just recently arrived on the Wii U.
OlliOlli is a 2D side-scrolling, skateboarding version of a forced runner which requires you to enter a stage, get from start to end while grinding on objects, doing tricks and avoiding any kind of crash. It means you will be restarting many times as timing everything has to be near perfect, including when you need to land after a big jump. Through all these activities you score points which in turn open up new levels.
The control system is important in a game like this and OlliOlli nails the controls. You can get a push start to speed up, then the left stick is used to jump and do tricks depending on how you rotate the stick. Grinding is done in the same way and depending on which button you push you will do a different kind of grind. Lastly, you need to push the A button at the right time, when landing, so you can land perfectly rather than with a bit of a stumble.
That’s the basics of it, but with so many different tricks and combos to attempt there is a whole lot more depth to it once you get used to all the controls. Each level has a different set up with things to grind on, jumps to make and obstacles to avoid making each level a different challenge. And there are a fair number of levels too, which will keep you busy.
In total there are 5 different stages, each with 5 different levels, but wait, there’s more. Each level sets out challenges for you to achieve and if you meet all these challenges (per level)l you will unlock a Pro version of the level which is a bit tougher, has different challenges and will require you to be a lot quicker with your moves. Beat all the Pro challenges and again there is a new version of the level unlocked called Rad Levels. It means there are around 75 levels in the game and that is before the daily grind which gives you one chance to compete against a global leaderboard on a new, randomly generated level.
The challenges per level makes the game so addictive. Aiming for a high combo or final score, pulling off certain tricks like a 720 spin while doing a kickflip and ending into a nosegrind, and even just collecting certain items around the level are just some of the challenges thrown out. Hell, even some levels expect you to get through without grinding at all… you better get used to pushing the restart button for those.
The sound in OlliOlli is really generic and in some ways a bit underwhelming. It’s hardly noticeable even. At times the music goes off and to be honest you don’t even realise it because the music in general is so unremarkable. The sound effects largely consist of the grinding on a handrail noise, to your character going ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch while crashing, and then a cheering crowd when you reach the end of the level. Hardly inspired.
Graphics are what you’d expect from a 2D sidescroller and nothing more. The backgrounds are a bit dull and the levels, while addictive, never truly feel unique, apart from ‘maybe’ the neon level at the end. The visuals are by no means bad, but they could have done a lot better with the setting.
OlliOlli is addictive, which is simple to attempt but a difficult challenge to truly master. There is plenty of restarting involved as you attempt to complete a stage and its challenges. It definitely has that sense of “play a quick level here and there” feeling about it and it’s great to attempt to beat old high scores if you can. It’s not something that you will be playing for weeks and weeks, but for the price and the time you’d get out of it, it is definitely worth giving a try.
It’s just a pity that the Wii U version that has released so long after the game released elsewhere adds absolutely nothing to the original game. It’s simply a port of an existing game with zero extra benefit, so if you have played it before there is nothing new here, if you haven’t then you should give it a go.