OlliOlli World is a good-natured renovation of punishing skateventures

To perform an ollie is to communicate with gods. Or maybe just look cool. OlliOlli World is set to be a good-natured renovation of the 2D skateboard series, which has traditionally been quite punitive. This one has a flashy third dimension, cartoon characters with moon faces and a smart story to match. We get to know about Skate Godz, who once appointed a human representative on earth. But she is about to retire and needs a prodigy to step forward to fill her Vans. The player is the potential new lead between holy halfpipers and humanity. In other words, this is a quest to become a Skate Pope. Caliph of kickflips. Dalai Slama. After both popping and pushing it through a bunch of levels in preview, I’m happy to report that you can all sit down. I am the chosen one. It is me.

I make this grandiose claim from the pedestal of the 17th best OlliOlli 2 player (on PlayStation 4), which tells you two things. First, I’m good at virtual heelflips. Second, this game should have a small audience. It’s true that the OlliOlli series has cult prestige among skateboarding jokers, and a recent Switch re-release brought it to a new crowd, but it lacks the nostalgia gravity of a Tony Hawk Pro Skater remake or the mood of spiritual skate sequels like for example. Session. It also scares some people away because OlliOlli has always been a rigorous test of reflexes, each successive degree of difficulty curve resembling less a rock and more like a full-pipe.

Join the smiling friends and stupid business frogs of OlliOlli World. This colorful cast and yet colorful wardrobe is a sign of cool things to come. There is still cool meat to nibble on. A particular jump may require precise timing, a bonus level will make strict demands. But in general, the barrier to entry seems to have been greatly reduced. Fair warning: I say this as a veteran. It is possible that my idea of ​​”easing up” may have been miscalculated. But the developers Roll7 have made a lot of changes to convince me of something else.

Levels are side-scrolling streams of dangerous jumps and practical rails. You perform tricks by turning the left thumbstick, or flicking it in one direction or another before releasing (you need a controller – no keyboards allowed, sorry). You can add spin by holding down the shoulder buttons, and perform grind tricks by pulling the left stick just as you come down over a rail. If you lose speed, you can push yourself forward and gain the speed often needed to clear larger holes. Each level has some special objectives, be it a score to beat, a series of tricks to pull or items to collect from hard-to-reach places.

These fundamentals have not changed for the new installment. But other things have been shaken up in small but significant ways. The biggest difference comes from simply landing your board. Before, you had to press a button at the exact time of landing (A on Xbox controller, X on PlayStation), otherwise your landing would be so sloppy that the trick would hardly count in your score and your skateboard would slow down so markedly , that you would clap down the next set of steps like an upright bag of scaffolding tubes. You can make the most incredible combo, full minutes long, but then swirl the final landing with a mistimed tap so that your final score becomes a fraction of its value. This was part of the hardcore appeal – none of it matters if you do not get the timing of the last, angry footing correctly.

That difficulty level has been discarded in OlliOlli World. Pressing the landing button is no longer critical. The button still exists, it still works, but it is not 100% necessary. You can land clean and easy without. Your team of skate-buds will not even tell you about such a feature until halfway through the second level of levels, which at least means that much of the game is possible without using it. You still have to press that landing button to pull a sick manual. And hitting it at just the right time will still give you a little green bubble that praises you with the word “PERFECT” and a few more points. But that is not crucial.

This was probably OlliOlli’s big filter, a single button that was a firm hand with discipline, but also a tough gatekeeper. There is a feeling that the developers are doing away with the mono-combo crucible from OldiOldi. This game features colorful knee pads and cartoon bees with Adventure Time smiles. It has giant jumps that you can conceivably take without having to use Mantis Shrimp reflectors. I’m totally for this. The more that can be introduced to the series, the better. I will always appreciate the brutal precision from the previous post, it made me the 17th best OlliOlli 2 player I am today. But even an obsessed person like me can recognize the value of an open seafront promenade to be played easily once and then forgotten, or a friendly ice cream waffle cheering on me from the sidelines, the simplicity of a simple trick that gets you through the whole jogging.

There are also checkpoints now, several times on a level. Which was unthinkable to me as an indoctrinated nose slider, but which made total sense when I saw them. They give new players another instant chance to jump, or jump over a delicate balloon or collect a big star on an awkward platform.

That they have both managed to raise the skill ceiling and lower the skill floorboards is just as impressive as a big flippo.

It’s a concession to casual cruise kids, yes, but it’s not stupid. If I want to restart the level from the beginning to try my absurd level long combo again, I just have to hold down the “restart from the beginning” button. There are opportunities and it’s great. Levels in previous games were sometimes so long that it became a struggle for players to finish them themselves, and it does not matter to complete all the bonus goals. I can still see a couple of WorldiWorldi’s levels rattling with the teeth of the new audience (especially when wall rides are introduced), and the point of the game is still to overcome that challenge, but it’s a noticeably more forgiving world of ramps.

There are a dozen small technical changes that explicitly call experienced underflippers. You can not do more than four flat tricks in a row without being forced to finish your combo, for example. A thumping exclamation pops up over your head to signal that your next landing on flat ground will complete the combination unless you find a rail to keep it going. And there are new, sophisticated grinds on the rails that let you lift one foot off the board or lean in an insecure, knotty way. The way your score is calculated for these encourages you to hold each grinding position for a second or two and then shift it up.

These changes will pretty much feel invisible to any beginner until they learn the ins and outs. But they have huge consequences for anyone competing on the game’s online rankings. The designers have clearly examined what advanced players did in previous games, and have changed the rules to both force us out of complacency and give us wild new opportunities. That they have managed to both raise the skill ceiling and lower the skill floorboards at the same time is as impressive as a large flippo.

I only got two zones deep into the game for this preview, mostly because I’ve been 100% on each level before moving on to the next, as a methodical serial killer. But I am deeply, happily impressed by what I have seen. Receiving such a rich opportunity in the form of wallrides, special grinds, alternative trails, grabs, half-pipes … It’s overwhelming. Pure joy. There is a deep meaning in the ability to rumble down steps on your board’s tail. I do not expect you to understand the potential of this simple maneuver, ha ha, you do not see the OlliOlli level as I do. You’re deadly. I stand among Godz. I have broken all the bones in my body.

Knowing only that it turns out to be a generous re-jigging of all that made former OlliOllis excellent. An extended hand that picks up everyone who tried an older version and dropped out in the fifth level. A laughing gesture against a wardrobe full of cool clothes you probably would never be able to pull off in real life (you can customize your character now! What!). It’s strong, flow-state escapism with seagulls working out in the gym. Researchers recently claimed that skateboarding as an adult can improve your mental well-being. But buying an expensive piece of wood and playing a little Don’t-Snap-Yer-Bones may seem unwise to many people (hospitals are, uh, a little busy right now …). But from what I’ve been playing so far, OlliOlli World seems to be fulfilling that same wish.

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