E3 Preview

OlliOlli World is a Saturday morning cartoon version of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater

It highlights and enhances the best part of skateboarding games.

Anyone looking for a skateboarding game to tide them over between Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 and Skate 4 needs to check out OlliOlli World.

The third game in the long-running indie skateboarding game series, OlliOlli World simplifies gameplay by putting it on a 2D plane. That doesn’t hurt its depth at all thanks to an intuitive dual-stick control scheme. If you liked previous OlliOlli games, this new entry hits all the same notes.

It sports a colorful Saturday morning cartoon aesthetic that makes the game just as pleasant to look at as it is to play. That also allows it to do one thing better than Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater.

Simplicity is key

OlliOlli World is immediately satisfying to pick up and play, which is its greatest strength. After a quick tutorial in Inverse’s demo that gets players accustomed to the controls, we were let loose across several levels to perform tricks and complete challenges.

Hardcore skateboarding sims like Session and Skater XL can be awfully complex, making them offputting to newcomers or casual players. The Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater and OlliOlli series have always recognized that simplicity and accessibility are vital in drawing so many people to this genre, which can be really satisfying. OlliOlli World is no different.

It’s surprisingly easy to pick up, though there is a massive skill ceiling. During my time with the game, I only briefly used the grab and manual mechanics that are key to gaining more pointing or extending combos in certain areas. I also failed a lot. But there’s a clear path towards improvement where you understand the cause behind every failure.

Detailed and vibrant visuals and level design accentuate the gameplay. While each level in the demo was colorful and unique, the main interactable objects like grind rails and walls were always clear. Even though my demo was quite short, I kept skating because I wanted to complete each level’s challenges to get as high of a score as possible.

I’m already hooked, and the game is months away from launch.

Saturday Morning Vibes

During a presentation, the developers at Roll7 stressed that they want OlliOlli World to be more appealing than the two games before it.

“The world of OlliOlli World is equal parts adorable, weird, and such a little bit cheeky,” Creative Director John Ribbins said. “So it was important to us to create an art style that matched that tone — we wanted a 3D game that looks and plays like a living cartoon.”

OlliOlli World has a visual style similar to the best modern cartoons.

And OlliOlli World’s visuals live up to the hype. The visual style pops with its vibrant color palette and the wacky character designs. Developers weren’t afraid to incorporate more fantastical elements either. In this demo alone, I was able to skate across a beach town filled with human and non-human beings, a forest, and a graveyard populated with ghosts, and each felt special thanks to their unique obstacles, colors, and overall aesthetics.

These welcoming visuals make OlliOlli World just as fun to watch as it is to play. The game’s style and setting directly remind me of a Netflix animated series called Hilda, which features humans and a somewhat normal-looking society that incorporates many fantastic creatures. The fact that it reminds me of a show like that directly is a key indicator that OlliOlli World is achieving that Saturday morning cartoon vibe.

To accomplish this look and feel, Roll7 had to use unique render tech called “No-Comply” to achieve its visuals. The name is a reference to a skateboarding move where players pop the board with their back foot. The team thought this was necessary though, as this style solves one rampant issue throughout most skateboarding games.

“One of the things we’ve noticed in the past is that skate games often feel quite barren,” Ribbens says. “You’re skating in awesome skate spots in a huge city, but the streets are empty and the environment lifeless. With OlliOlli World, our amazing team has put a huge amount of love into making the environment you skate through feel like living places.”

To keep the action simple in a large 3D space, this is a concession that games like Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater have to make. As a 2D skateboarding game not bound by realism, this issue doesn’t hold OlliOlli World yet. As a result, it has the potential to be the best new skateboarding game in years.

OlliOlli World will be released this winter.

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