Back in January of last year, Roll7 released OlliOlli, the 2D skateboarding game that showed everyone that it was merely the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater formula that was stale, rather than skateboarding games in general. The small indie studio took to their own stage at EGX 2014 to unveil OlliOlli 2: Welcome to Olliwood, an announcement that those few in attendance were hyped about. OlliOlli has proved successful on multiple platforms now, but its sequel is a departure from interesting curio to a fully fledged game from a talented development studio.
OlliOlli had a rather pixelated style. OlliOlli 2: Welcome to Olliwood goes for a far cleaner artistic design in both the levels and the character design. The skateboarder has far more frames of animation and the overall look is far more appealing. Backgrounds based on fictional movie sets are diverse in design and include unique bailing animations fitting for the scenario. Menus which I criticised in the original have colour and a more attractive interface too. Even the music now features a bunch of separate artists with differing styles. Again, the music isn’t going to be everyone’s taste, but at least there’s more variety.
Teach an old dog new tricks
The basics are still the same: Press X to land. It’s not a hard concept, but it is a demanding one that persists. Grinding on rails, spins, and perfect execution are still the order of the day, yet there’s a distinctly different flow. OlliOlli‘s level design was focusing on the grinds and obstacles while OlliOlli 2: Welcome to Olliwood uses a more dynamic approach.
Part of this is down to the new manuals and reverts. No longer is pressing X to land the ultimate imperative task, but combining landing with other buttons and directional inputs carries on the combo. Manuals, performed by holding left or right as you land, extend the combo; while Reverts, performed by pressing X and either Left Bumper or Right Bumper, add an extra flourish to your landing. The two can be combined to create the revert manual by executing a revert before holding a direction just afterwards.
Now this might sound confusing, but the Skatepark tutorial gives you a great learning environment. It also teaches you the other new trick mix-up: Grind switches. Provided you have pulled off a perfect grind, you can change the input and press X to switch your grind. All the new actions mean a slight loss of momentum, even with perfect timing. Returning to further assist players is the Tricktionary which on top of adding new tricks also has stars next to tricks you’ve performed in the past, which is a nice addition.
One way or the other
This is where the level design comes in with its brand new slopes and ramps. Slopes, in particular, are crucial to keeping momentum as the physics of going downhill and uphill are properly simulated. Ramps allow you to launch far if you trick off it, usually critical to avoiding bailing a good run. Multiple pathways keep levels fresh with certain objectives only found on alternative routes. Later on, the level design becomes devious, putting red herrings in your way that lead to certain failure. Compared with OlliOlli‘s level design, this is leaps and bounds better.
Aside from that, not a lot has changed. Career mode is focused more on continuing combos throughout an entire level thanks to the manuals, but you still are asked to do certain tricks and collect items to keep until the end. Spot mode has you racking up points in one chain, while if you somehow manage to complete all objectives the Rad Mode where perfection is the only way to survive is still present. Daily Spots and leaderboards currently make up the multiplayer interaction at this time. The upgrades and improved animation style are certainly worth the asking price, but it could have done with a more thematic mode to make it stand out more from the original.
It’s also a shame that there’s a glaring omission – the ‘Combo Rush’ mode that debuted at EGX 2014. From the looks of what was shown, it was an exciting part of the game that allowed players to not only play in the same living room, but use the PS4’s SharePlay function to allow others to join you via the digital living room. Roll7 have been transparent and are insisting that this is still coming, but sadly it’s not in the game yet. Still, the ability to cross-save from launch is a plus for those wishing to retain progress across platforms.
OlliOlli 2: Welcome to Olliwood is a far more entertaining and polished successor than the original. It maintains its core gameplay while innovating still via clever stage design. The film set theme works really well, with the new art style a more universally appealing design. It’s just a shame that, even though, the level design is top notch, OlliOlli 2: Welcome to Olliwood doesn’t add any new modes at this time. At least we know that more is coming and we can brush up on timing our landings.