As a chubby thirty year old with the athleticism of a sloth and the cool-factor of a professional chess player, your humble writer will never be seen on a skateboard down at the local skateboarding-park-thingy. That's a reality of life, but video games are all about fantasy, so it's possible for even the least trendy of individuals to pull off sick stunts - we think that's right - and generally pretend to be down with the kids; hooray for gaming.
OlliOlli from Roll7 was quite the sleeper hit on PSN, particularly the Indie-friendly Vita - with the sequel now skating onto Sony platforms those with Nintendo hardware are at least getting to enjoy some of the fun, with Curve Digital porting the original to both Wii U and 3DS. Arriving on 5th March with cross-buy included, for one price you'll be able to enjoy this on the go or in HD at home; saves won't be cross-platform, though, but we should be grateful for the eShop's baby-steps.
On a recent visit to Curve Digital's HQ in London we gave both of the upcoming releases a whirl, and our impressions on both were certainly positive; in fact, they feel rather distinct in their own ways.
As an introduction to those new to OlliOlli, it's a 2D sidescroller with crisp pixel-based visuals, and it's a title that's rather challenging - through an impressive range of combos and moves you'll need to engage your brain and have your thumbs at their twitchy best. Always skating to the right, this is a game of momentum - you use the Circle Pad, two face buttons and a shoulder button, but within those inputs are a daunting range of moves.
The focus is on take offs, rapid combinations while in the air or grinding on rails, and then wrapping it all up with a clean landing. It's difficult even in early stages, and with unlock requirements to move on - not to mention tricky 'perfect' requirements - it rapidly becomes quite a challenge. In some cases you're mastering specific moves, and in others simply trying to rack up combos.
The key to this title is slick 60fps performance, due to the twitch reactions it demands, and it delivers this on both Wii U and 3DS. On the Wii U it looks as it does on PS4, to our eyes - HD with chunky, appealing visuals. On 3DS there's a surprising difference in that the viewpoint is actually a little further out, giving you a slightly wider viewing angle. Though this makes the skater a little smaller, we actually rather liked the effect and, importantly, it rocks along at 60fps. It's worth noting, however, that just like the recent port of Titan Attacks it's 2D-only on the portable; this is rather disappointing, especially as this is a game with parallax scrolling that seems ready-made for 3D. We were told this was simply due to technical practicalities that would have added a fair amount to the development time.
That's a disappointment, but we found ourselves enjoying OlliOlli more on the 3DS, much like we prefer this game on Vita over PS4. With the controller and output being integrated in a portable that split-second reaction feels more immediate on the handheld, and switching from that to the console version meant we had to adjust our reaction times and inputs to account for that inevitable tiny input lag to the TV. With most games it's irrelevant, but we noticed it here - just as per Vita to PS4, as mentioned above; it's just a matter of adjustment, however, and both versions perform admirably. From an aesthetic perspective it'll be understandable for many to prefer a HD output on a big-screen TV.
As for features specific to Wii U and 3DS, there is one key use of the second screen - whether the touchscreen on 3DS or the GamePad. The available moves are always displayed on the bottom screen, so between rounds it's a convenient option to look up a specific trick; considering a tumble prompts a quick restart that you kick off, it's certainly useful to look down between attempts and double check a move.
OlliOlli was critically acclaimed on PSN with good reason, and we're pretty confident that Nintendo gamers will get drawn in. As we've said above, the key requirements are momentum and quick reflexes, with some tricks requiring half circles reminiscent of Street Fighter II specials. It's a title for skilful gamers, and chasing high scores and better star rankings across the many stages included is all setup to cater to the obsessive nature in all of us. Both versions will also host a daily challenge in which you have one attempt to set a high score, and online leaderboards seem to be present. Aside from missing 3D, these seem to be quality ports that have the full feature-set of the original releases.
OlliOlli comes out in Europe and North America - with cross-buy - on 5th March for £7.99 / $9.99 / €9.99; based on our time with it so far, it'll be well worth a look.