OlliOlli is a bit of an odd game for me. I never grew up playing Tony Hawk games, hardly remember skating brands like etnies, and haven’t touched a skateboard since I fell off one down a hill at 7 years old… Yet OlliOlli: Switch Stance has quickly become one of my guilty pleasure games on the Nintendo Switch.
OlliOlli: Switch Stance is a collection of both the original OlliOlli and OlliOlli 2: Welcome to Olliwood, released in 2014 and 2015 respectively, and acts as – from what I can gather – the introduction to a new form of sporty games; 2D skating games – There really isn’t anything quite like it, and as such, it gets a lot right, and a bit wrong – Starting with OlliOlli 1, it’s presentation is simple yet effective; pop-styled minimalism coats every inch of this game, blending flat colours with vibrant tones much like the skating brands the world of OlliOlli takes inspiration from – It’s an odd style for sure, as menus and gameplay have this odd disconnect that somehow works – Perhaps I’ll delve into these sorts of styles in a future analysis article…
Gameplay, however, is the main draw of these titles – OlliOlli sends players down a hilly set of courses with unique challenges per level – usually up to 5 at a time – with an incentive to complete all of them with ascending difficulty, similar to the newer Trials games; you have your basic movement options, like running, pushing your board, olling and grinding, which all fundamentally breaks down to your use of the up, down and B buttons on the Switch; at its core, you can play the entire game with just these buttons alone… But that wouldn’t be fun, would it? No; OlliOlli features a deep layer of combo moves, from grabs, additional grinding moves and tricks, spins and daring launches – Fail to stick the landing (Done by pushing B at the end of any move as soon as you hit the ground), and you’ll see yourself staggering, or flung from your board, forced to restart.
The music of OlliOlli 1 is also much better than I would have initially given credit for; rock and pop inspired tracks fuel this title, and meld with the gameplay near-perfectly, extremely similarly to the beloved Skate series of games; the game’s main campaign will see you over a wide array of urban, nightlife and even army base-themed locales, lending to the sense of rebelliousness and energy associated with the skating fandom; each level also has a series of ‘Pro’ challenge levels as well to truly test your metal. Finally, Spots act as ‘extreme’ difficulty challenges, limiting you to a single combo during your entire time in a level, forcing you to make it count! Unfortunately, asides from a daily challenge, this appears to be it for OlliOlli 1 in terms of content, so whilst you’ll be spending ages trying to perfect every level, get used to attempting them over, and over, and over again. This is made doubly painful with the longer-than-expected loading times for each aspect of the game; it’s nowhere near Bloodborne or other Switch titles like Warframe, but it’s still a detriment to the ‘pick-up-and-play’ experience.
OlliOlli 2: Welcome to Olliwood, however, seems to have gotten the better end of the stick with this collection; providing a far better optimised and visually clear experience when compared to OlliOlli 1 – Olliwood takes place in the locale of the same name, theming each level around different movie sets rather than different urban locales, fitted with an updated and remixed UI that far-better fits the overall aesthetic of the game; you start off in familiar surroundings in Olliwood before being launched into Azetc sets, Wild West themed locales, a horrific theme park filled with zombies, ending with a futuristic factory planet set filled with the constructed husks of various Kaiju-level robots; it definitely mimics the jump from the original Trials game to Trials Fusion, and the expanded gameplay fits that bill; you can launch into a brand new local co-op ‘tournament’ mode that sees you customizing each session with unique rules such as the length of the tournament, the game type (Highest combo, highest score, longest combo, etc), a potential score or time limit, and also the Amateur or Pro-level course from any point in the main single player experience; it’s a blast playing with up to 4 friends on the big screen, all trying to show off your skills whilst flopping down the stairs like a wet fish – Extremely fun after a drink or two, I’m sure!
All things considered, OlliOlli: Switch Stance is a very unique collection that I never really thought I’d get into – It’s brashly unlike anything else I’ve ever played, yet it feels utterly refined and realised in its concept; OlliOlli 1 is bogged down by a slight lack of content, but that’s especially expected when you compare it to its sequel – My recommendation would be to jump into OlliOlli 2: Welcome to Olliwood first to make use of the advanced accessibility in terms of tutorials, then delve back into OlliOlli 1 when you’ve gotten bored with the exaggerated themes of OlliOlli 2 and want a bit of pure urban skating.
OlliOlli: Switch Stance has proven to be the go-to skating title on the Nintendo Switch to fuel the boarder in your soul; just don’t play it while actually skateboarding, please.
I give OlliOlli: Switch Stance a:
More variety in gameplay modes and more online features (Possibly an online match mode where all skaters play at the same time) would have brought this up to an easy 8.5.