Nintendo Switch, PS4, PS5, PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S
When I was just a wee lad, skateboarding seemed like the coolest thing in the world. I lacked the bravery and physical aptitude to get on a board myself, but I soaked up the accoutrements of the sport anyway. The latest Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater disc stayed in my PlayStation for months at a time. I listened to ska and pop punk. I was the very model of an armchair skater.
I’m 30 now, and to be honest, skateboarding still seems like the coolest thing in the world. OlliOlli World, the latest in the side-scrolling OlliOlli series, is a game bursting with that same love. It’s a breezy adventure that’s easy to pick up and difficult to master, with the staying power to keep you coming back time and again.
OlliOlli World Review
OlliOlli World leaves the dingy urban environments of previous games behind for the colourful shores of Radlandia, an island created by the five Skate Godz. Radlandia is a skater’s paradise, a world with more grind rails and quarterpipes than New Zealand has sheep. From woods to alien-filled deserts to rivers of melted ice cream, Radlandia is teeming with whimsical and surreal locales.
Your highly-customisable skater is on a journey to become the next Skate Wizard, a sort of conduit between the Godz and the regular Radlandians. You’re joined on your quest by a motley crew of wacky skaters, like the peppy Suze and the oblivious Dad (no relation).
The story is thin and unsurprising; you can probably already guess how it ends. The cast of characters is highly endearing, though, and provides great company as you kickflip your way to Gnarvana.
There’s no point beating around the bush: OlliOlli World is simply a joy to play. The controls are simple: you press A to push yourself along, and hold then release the left stick to pull off a trick. The game gradually layers on more complexity as you progress, with grabs and spins making their way into your move set. It always feels intuitive enough, though, to pick up and play easily after hours or days away.
Previous OlliOlli games demanded precision, requiring carefully-timed button taps to land tricks. OlliOlli World is a lot more loose and approachable than its predecessors, at least to begin with. The game’s later levels are quite brutal, and I abandoned any hope of pulling off elaborate combos or landing huge scores. My skating become purely functional, a means to an end to avoid crashing or falling into bottomless chasms.
But try as you might, you will crash, and you’ll crash often. Retiring Skate Wizard Chiffon offers checkpoints throughout each level, allowing you to jump back into the action after failure without starting from scratch. I found the Switch version of OlliOlli World’s load times to be just lengthy enough to be annoying, but the ability to immediately restart a level once it has loaded with a tap of the X button softened the blow considerably.
S K A T E
Your buddy Gnarly Mike sets you a series of optional challenges in each stage. You might need to perform a certain trick at just the right time, or burst a series of balloons. These tasks are often mutually exclusive; taking an alternate ‘Gnarly’ route to grab collectibles might mean you lose the chance to rack up a 30 move combo.
This is the source of much of OlliOlli World’s replay value; completionists will find themselves returning to levels again and again to finish their checklists. You’re not just playing for bragging rights, either. Completing a challenge will often bag you a new shirt or accessory to further customise your character. There are dozens of options, if not hundreds, to create the exact look you want for your skater or board.
The more traditional levels of the game are broken up by bonus stages and side quests. These missions are even zanier than the main; a race with a bear in a dinghy down a forest river and a beach populated by bodybuilding seagulls are particular standouts. OlliOlli World’s standard levels are consistently fun enough that these diversions aren’t strictly necessary, but their inventiveness is welcome all the same.
Olli Olli Olli (Oi Oi Oi)
Through it all, OlliOlli World plays incredibly smoothly. The Switch version of the game seemed to run at a solid 60fps in both docked and handheld modes; the importance of this fluidity as you speed through the game’s rollercoaster-like levels cannot be understated.
The SNES-like pixel art of previous games has been ditched in favour of a new 2.5D style, and it consistently looks quite lovely. Levels Synthy chill-hop music pulses gently in the background, a perfect score to the satisfying scrapes of your board on the ground.
All of this is in service of an atmosphere of undying positivity. There are no cops trying to bust you, no grouchy neighbours sick of you loitering on their streets. Radlandia is a world in which every person adores skating, and wants nothing more than to show you the sweetest spots to pop an ollie. This joy and love for the culture is palpable, and downright infectious.
OlliOlli World is a beautiful blend of side-scrolling platforming and extreme sports. The game drips personality, providing a friendly and relaxing environment in which to master the art of skating. Although the main campaign lasts about 5 hours from start to finish, OlliOlli World’s addictive gameplay loop and myriad challenges will keep you gleefully busy for many hours more.
If it’s not already clear, I think OlliOlli World is completely deserving of your time and attention. As a poet once said: can I make it any more obvious?