by William Thompson
previewed on PC
Living the skater life
I had a phase when I was younger when I was living the skater life – I had my skateboard and my pair of Converse with one shoe that would wear out quicker than the other. I had the grungy look complete with a lumberjack-style check shirt over my Nirvana t-shirt. I was cool…or at least felt cooler than the kid down the street. It was about that time that I realized that the local council should pay more attention to the unevenness of the footpaths as I’m sure that was the issue preventing me from becoming the next Tony Hawk. Maybe, I just sucked at skateboarding.
OlliOlli World has placed me back in the skater groove, albeit in a virtual sense. The game begins by requiring players to customize their avatar from a wide selection of initial options – from hairstyle (both facial and on your head) to the type of footwear. With the cartoon style present in OlliOlli World, I felt that I was creating a character to traverse the land of Ooo with Jake and Finn from Adventure Time.
After creating your character, it is time to hop on your board. The game is broken up into different areas within the world of Radlandia, each with their own theme. From the beach setting of Sunshine Valley, to the leafy Cloverbrook, to the cactus and desert theme known as Burnt Rock, players will skate through a series of paths, learning valuable skills along the way. Players will start in Sunshine Valley and will be given a run down on the basics of skateboarding in OlliOlli World. As players progress through the levels, and indeed, through the different worlds, they will be trained in more advanced tricks and special skills that will help them to progress.
The basic controls are quite simple, to the point where even a novice would be able to make their way through each of the levels across the various themed locations quite easily with just the basic moves of pushing off for speed and basic jumps such as Ollies and Kickflips, and some Grinds. However, OlliOlli World rewards players for putting in the practice, as several added bonuses (mostly in the form of customisations) are available to players on each level who accomplish certain challenges. Advanced and special skills, board grabs, and spins can all be learned during the journey through Radlandia.
Simple to play, hard to master
As well as completing the array of tricks, players can also boost their scores with the use of combos. Combos involve stringing together tricks, with each completed trick increasing the multiplier value of the score. As mentioned, the basic tricks such as the kickflips and some grinds are easy, simply requiring the timed flick of the left thumbstick. Advanced skills however, play out similarly to those in a fighting game, whereby the player needs to complete a series of somewhat complex moves in order to perform the trick.
Apart from the main goal of making it through to the end of the level (players can make use of the various checkpoints scattered across the courses if they need), OlliOlli World has players competing for various Challenges offered by character Gnarly Mike. These challenges can range from completing a set trick within the run, scaring (or hitting) various animals, or beating a character across the finish line. These challenges are quite varied and will require players to use the full repertoire of skills in order to complete. Completing these challenges will often require players to replay courses several times, as many of the courses have multiple paths that need to be traversed to fulfil the varying challenges.
Along with these challenges, players are also tasked with outscoring three expert characters in each course. Early on, with limited knowledge of advanced and special skills, these expert scores are easy to beat. But as players progress through the themed lands, the experts scores will be tougher to beat, requiring skaters to pull together more combos and use more advanced tricks.
As mentioned previously, I get the sense that Adventure Time seems to have been a major influence in the visual aspect of the game, particularly in the colour scheme. The themed lands within Radlandia are all colourful, both in the backgrounds and in the characters you meet along the way – from the skate Wizard Chiffon with her one-eye, to the older character with all his protective gear known only as Dad. Their appearance and dialogue is often quite comical, and although the dialogue is all written via a series of speech bubbles, it can invite a chuckle or two. My only gripe is that there doesn’t seem to be a way to skip through this if you have already read through it (as is the case when you finish each course).
After completing all the courses in the first area, players will then be able to interact with other players in a world known as Gnarvana. During the preview phase, Gnarvana was somewhat sparsely populated, but it is fun to test out your skills against other players. Indeed, you can even watch a replay of the current leader’s course run, which enables you to pick up some added tips that you may not have previously thought of.
OlliOlli World is a heap of fun. It is easy enough to play for novice gamers but provides more than enough of a challenge for completionists. Mastering all the skills will certainly take some practice but doing so rewards the players with further customisations to clothing and skateboard equipment. A rocking soundtrack, crisp cartoon style visuals, and some humorous dialogue will certainly keep gamers entertained for hours, whilst the multiplayer aspect of Gnarvana will keep them coming back.
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