Matching tight, intricate controls with a vibrant style and high-spirited, energetic world, OlliOlli World delivers the best skateboarding experience on Switch. The series has taken a significant leap forward and absolutely stuck the landing. An essential indie for any skateboarding fans.
I’m so delighted to talk to you about OlliOlli World. I fell in love with the first two on 3DS and WiiU and even played dozens more hours when the bundle of both came to Switch. OlliOlli has been a staple in my gaming time, I often dive in when I only have a short time to play and just want to blast through and chase some high scores.
The main reason I love these games so much is because of their outstanding game feel. OlliOlli nails the controls from the very beginning, using an interesting balance of flicking the left analogue stick to perform tricks while also focusing on timing to land tricks perfectly. This combined with the 2D perspective, gives this skateboarding escapade an almost Sonic The Hedgehog feel as you speed through levels and unlock different routes, hoping to maintain your combo and your speed.
Another essential part of the franchise is the ability to immediately snap back and restart, so the moment you know a combo is ruined you simply start over. It really sells the “just one more go” nature of the titles and makes them an addictive prospect for any speedfreaks. So now to see all of these essential ingredients intact, in a game that elevates them all above and beyond, well I think I very nearly ascended to Gnarvana myself.
If you’ve never played the series, OlliOlli World is a 2D skateboarding game that uses a combination of stick-flicks and button presses to deliver an intuitive experience that’s focused on chaining combos and building high scores. When I compare it to Sonic I really mean it, as the thrill of learning each level like the back of your hand to deliver an exhilaratingly large combo with your newfound skating skills is reminiscent of the very best of that series.
The latest entry doesn’t skip a beat, bringing over absolutely everything I love from the originals but stuffing it with personality and charm thanks to the lovely new pastel art style and heaps of great characters and locations. The largely silent series is now overflowing with fun people to chat to, often with fairly funny writing, and wacky locations that lean heavily into the absurd. It’s nice to see the series forge an identity of its own, and the style they’ve chosen really works for me and matches the bodacious skater vibes they’re going with.
There are even a few new mechanics, such as wall rides and firecrackers. The first is fairly self-explanatory, and firecrackers are when you perform a manual down a set of stairs. There’s even now a smash-grab, allowing you to break objects or interact with anything purple by performing a grab, opening up more possibilities to explore and find the game’s many hidden routes. OlliOlli World does a good job of metering out mechanics as well, explaining them slowly over the many levels and worlds so as not to overwhelm newcomers.
When you’re firing on all cylinders though, this game still feels absolutely incredible. The level design is rock solid, including the ability to move between different plains now to jump forward and backwards on half pipes. There’s so much scope for experimentation and building monster combos, and each level is designed to reward your skills. Split into five worlds and many levels in each, levels start out fairly simplistic but eventually it’s a challenge to simply make it to the finish line.
There’s plenty to do within each level as well, with basic high scores to beat as well as stage-specific challenges that range from landing particular tricks to popping every inflatable cat you see. Objectives scale fairly well with your abilities, but some of the later high-score challenges are particularly tricky, sailing into the millions and demanding almost perfection from your run. I’ll certainly be going back through to attempt some of the later challenges.
Incentivising progression here is a wealth of great customisation features for your player character. At the start, you create your player and take off on a journey with your skateboarding friends to find all five of the skateboarding gods and reach Gnarvana. It’s a serviceable plot that carries the game well, elevated by fantastic writing and often genuinely funny dialogue. The game’s art style is well-matched with an almost stop-motion animation style during cut scenes, and it all brings this world to life with a really fitting amount of joy and sincerity.
While you start with a limited amount of options, moving through the worlds you’ll find an absolutely massive library of customisation options for your features, clothes, skateboard, and even the tricks you map to each button. This is so satisfying to play around with, and I get a huge thrill out of finding rare items and dressing up my character in each ridiculous new garb. The selection of skateboards is also really fun, with a great range of colours and weirder types that all fit the bubblegum theme of this world.
Getting through the main game shouldn’t take you more than a few hours, particularly if you’re familiar with the series, but that’s if you’re shooting straight through and just trying to finish the level. Beating all the challenges to unlock everything is going to take you a considerable amount of time, especially as many challenges demand you learn the level intimately and understand which areas to move towards and paths to unlock. It’s a really rewarding formula that makes the most of the levels they’ve crafted, where I never tired of revisiting any particular area to try and sweep up the challenges.
Luckily, if you do somehow get sick of the main story levels, there’s even more skateboarding for you to discover. Once you unlock it, head on over to the Gnarvana Portal to find an infinite amount of randomly generated levels, based on the parameters that you decide. Create levels based on each world, choose the length, the difficulty, and just cruise to your heart’s content.
Beyond this, is The Granvana League, where you can battle other players to gain high scores on levels over seasons, unlocking awards and customisation options as you climb the ranks. This, alongside the ability to check the leaderboards for each and every level, both worldwide and amongst your friends, well, lovers of the series can earn a lot of bragging rights. I can’t wait for more people to play so I can battle it out against pals to be the best on each level.
I also want to mention the game’s stellar soundtrack, another element brought over perfectly from previous entires. It’s a nice mix of electro-house mixes and energetic electronica that adds a lot of energy to proceedings. Perhaps it’s because it’s well within my particular style of music, but I absolutely adore this soundtrack, and it works so well alongside the stellar sound design of the skateboarding along the way.
I did have a couple of issues in my time with the game though, but I hope these are things that can be fixed. The game takes a long time to explain its many features, with tutorials still popping up in the very last worlds. I would’ve liked these to have been introduced a little bit earlier to give players a better chance at expanding their moveset and nailing high scores the first time around, it feels like a way to expand the playtime instead of respecting player’s skills and attention span.
Next, I did also have a few issues with bugs, both visual and performance-wise. Collision physics seem to be a bit wonky in some areas, with the occasional crash launching my character into some sort of void between dimensions. I also had huge bugs and crashes from simply moving around the menu, causing me to have to reset. This was fairly rare, as I think I encountered about four or five bugs in my eight hours of playtime so far, but I do hope they get addressed.
OlliOlli World is a thrilling expansion of rock-solid foundations, working to flawlessly deliver the experience this series always hinted at. The game feels beautiful to control in every moment, especially as you master the controls and levels inside out, and chaining combos while grinding through the many different paths is feels absolutely incredible. The new style worlds perfectly with the tone, and I hope this is just the beginning for this amazing series.