By: Jeff Cater
If you’ve destroyed a controller or two over the last couple of years it was probably either from playing Dark Souls or a smaller, unsuspecting devil game called OlliOlli. Now, developer Badland Indie has taken its two award-winning twitch skateboarding games and combined them into one package with several awesome and insightful bonus materials in the form of OlliOlli: Epic Combo Edition.
OlliOlli is a game that is a touch difficult to pick up and be good at, but the same really goes for skateboarding in real life. In OlliOlli tricks are done almost preemptively. What I mean by this is that, like Skate, you “charge” up your moves until you’re ready to perform them.
As you’re rolling along you can press “X” to pump up some speed, and, for example, when you approach a rail you’ll then hold down on the left thumbstick in order to prepare an ollie. Once you’re ready for takeoff, simply release the stick and let it reset to its neutral position and you’ll find that your skater has jumped high into the air.
To rack up points while airborne you can mix in spins (LB/RB) and prepare rail grinds by holding a direction and pressing “X” at the right time to land perfectly. Say you want to perform a kickflip or a hardflip, you’d hold right/left on the stick rather than down, releasing when you want to pull the trick.
I’d also suggest you try to play this with the newest controller you can, because any laze in the stick or dead zone can really make pulling anything off truly difficult.
OlliOlli has a great 2D aesthetic that looks like a mash of Mario and Skate or Die, and it’s chock full of speedy visuals and bright colors. Depending on which country your skate venue is located, the backgrounds are full of fun little touches like Japan’s bullet-train speeding by or a dilapidated Detroit-esque cityscape.
Tricks do not have many frames of animation, which actually fits the look of the game perfectly. If you happen to be pulling off a huge combo a trail will light up behind your skater, encouraging you to do your best to land it perfectly.
Sounds of grinding and wooden boards cracking against various obstacles are effective enough, but the soundtrack is where OlliOlli really shines. In OlliOlli, the tunes are all pretty catchy but don’t make much of an impact. When you switch from OlliOlli to OlliOlli2 the difference between soundtrack quality is immediately noticeable, with some very sweet Streets of Rage 2 sounding tunes.
In either game, the objective is to assemble the largest string of tricks possible within the time allotted. To do this, you’ll be throwing your skater from rail-to-rail into crazy manual combos, taking giant leaps of faith, and doing your damndest to stick your landings to lock your score in.
Each level is set up in a unique way as well, allowing several different methods of point gain. Do you hang on the rails high above and grind your score to insane heights? Or would you rather take flight and keep spinning to increase your modifier quickly? Maybe your awesome twitch-reaction skills will have you all over the place, taking flight and seeking that perfect rail to chain onto.
As mentioned above, you would do well to use as fresh of a controller as you can in order to play these games because any false input from the stick will mess you up bad and make the game nigh-impossible to enjoy. That being said, if you don’t have any issues with your controller you’re all set to have a great time.
OlliOlli ultimately rewards practice too, so if you’re having any troubles assembling a sweet line in a given stage just give it another shot — you’re not going to be a pro immediately in this game. After spending a few minutes getting used to the hold-and-release function of the control scheme you’ll still find it challenging but tons of fun!
BONUS FEATURES (5/5)
OlliOlli: Epic Combo Edition comes with a few sweet special features as well. First up are three documentaries about the development process for the games, which offers great insight as to what the company is all about (hint: making badass skateboard games) and offers great watching material for anyone interested in the development cycle of games or getting to know the developers themselves better.
Also included is a full color booklet that shows off a ton of cool art and short developer interviews. The highlight of the special features (in my humble opinion) is the inclusion of the soundtrack for OlliOlli2, which you’ll no doubt find to be quite enjoyable in or out of the game.
OlliOlli: Epic Combo Edition is an absolute steal at its price point. Within this package are two great games that are addictive and rewarding along with very cool and interesting supplementary materials. If you never hopped on the rails of OlliOlli, there’s no better place to start than here.