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OlliOlli review: An enthralling puzzler disguised as a skateboarding game

Hayden Dingman | Dec. 5, 2014
When I was a kid, trapped in the car with my family on long road trips, I used to imagine there was a man running alongside, leaping and ducking over roadside obstacles. According to the anecdotal evidence of the Internet, I wasn't the only one who did this, for some unknown reason. (It was Mario jumping around in my head! --Ed.)

It's one of the most addictive, short-burst games I've ever played.

I have my criticisms though. There are fifty levels in the game, and you're likely to get your fill before those fifty levels are up. After a while, addictive or no, there's just a point where you feel like you've already experienced every level variance the game has to offer. It doesn't help that all fifty levels fall into just five environments, and levels within an environment feel very similar. By the seventh or eighth in each group I wanted to move on.

The game also has trouble keeping up with its own speed. At times you can get your character moving so quickly that everything turns into a semi-blurry mess, which makes it hard to nail those tricks the way you need. At a certain point you start playing levels by muscle memory — getting killed, and then reflexively avoiding that trap the second time around.

And this is my own nitpick (and thus has no effect on the score for me), but I miss the pop-punk aesthetic of Tony Hawk. These aren't Tony Hawk games, of course, but I tie that music genre in with skateboarding so much that OlliOlli's electronica soundtrack — while certainly gorgeous — isn't what I want to hear.

Give me more Goldfinger!

Bottom line

OlliOlli's no replacement for the Tony Hawk games of yore, but it's not trying to be. It's a fast-paced puzzler with an appealing modern aesthetic and a fantastic (albeit borrowed) control scheme.

The fact that it also reminds me of a weird shared-experience from my childhood? Well, that's just the Mountain Dew-flavored icing.

 

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