OlliOlli: Switch Stance is a collection of the two games in the series: OlliOlli and OlliOlli2: Welcome to Olliwood. These games are 2D skateboarding games that allow you to pull off radical tricks and gnarly combos (do people still talk like that, or am I just getting old?). Each stage requires you to make it from start to finish, whilst also containing optional challenges. So is OlliOlli: Switch Stance a thrillride all the way through or does it fall flat on its face (like my character did countless times)?
The gameplay mechanics are difficult at first, but they soon become second nature. In no time at all, you’ll be performing gnarly tricks and pulling off crazy combos. However, the controls take a lot of practice and can become very awkward and frustrating. Pulling off complicated tricks can feel awkward to implement with the single joystick control. Whilst OlliOlli was also ported to smart phones, I can understand why this was the case, although being able to use the other buttons or triggers could have made the gameplay so much more intuitive.
Progressing from level-to-level is as simple as making it to the end. Earn high scores and complete all of the optional challenges in an amateur level in order to unlock pro levels. These optional challenges and attention to high scores by pulling off crazy combos adds to the games’ replayability. OlliOlli: Switch Stance is perfect for streaming as mastering the controls is no easy task, therefore encouraging competition.
OlliOlli: Switch Stance has online Daily Grind challenges that allows you one shot to earn the highest score across the world for bragging rights. It’s a neat little touch that wouldn’t have been amiss if it wasn’t included.
OlliOlli: Switch Stance is not a collection of easy games. It requires quick thinking and even quicker reflexes. You may find yourself repeating the same level over and over as it takes a long time to become use to the controls. I would say that the last two courses in OlliOlli 2 had me replaying them over and over a few dozen times because the button presses need to be so incredibly precise.
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The HD Rumble is subtle but effective. As you play, you’ll feel little pops in the right places, however a little more emphasis when grinding, hoping to truly feel the scraping of metal on metal, could have further added to the overall experience. It’s little details such as these when developing for the Nintendo Switch that goes a long way and now that we’ve experiences how much value can be added to a game with HD Rumble, it stands out more than ever when it’s not maximised to its full potential.
Each level varies in different combinations of obstacles, allowing you to perform a wide variety of tricks that forces you to think on your feet (wheels). You will rarely get through a level on the first runthrough, so be prepared to fall a lot! I got some intense flashbacks of my teenage years.
The levels can often be very repetitive; jump, grind, trick, grind, land, etc. Despite being able to do a whole lot of tricks (and mastering them is half the fun), some more variety in gameplay options could have gone a long way.
If you’re a fan of these games, you may be wondering why I’ve put a heading for the story. Whilst I am a firm believer in gameplay over story, we shouldn’t dismiss the importance of a game’s plot. Both versions of OlliOlli have not a hint of plot, so I won’t drag this point out. However, a plot in a game gives the player a sense of purpose. OlliOlli wouldn’t require much of a story as it is a 2D arcade skateboarding game, perhaps a few still comic images that lightly touches on a skating tournament or a skater wish to prove themself. When progressing from one area to the other, it feels incredibly unceremonious. It would have gone a long way in fleshing out the experience, whilst also providing pacing to an otherwise repetitive game series.
Music / Sound Design
The soundtrack in OlliOlli: Switch Stance generally has quick tempos and high energy that fits the adrenaline pumping gameplay. However, none of the tracks are ever particularly memorable, coming across as generic and lifeless.
There are some effective audio bits throughout each runthrough. The pop of the board and the scraping when grinding is very well done. Lastly as you’re getting close to the end of a level, you’ll be able to hear the cheers and applause begin to greet you at the end.
Graphics / Art Direction
The first OlliOlli’s art style comes across as dirty and rough, with bland colours and aesthetics. Once again, the sequel drastically improves on this with vibrant lighting and better use of 2D layering. The implementation of the colour coding that represents the accuracy of your landings is also more noticeable in the sequel, which drastically improves gameplay. It’s the slight touches that improves the overall experience whilst highlighting the flaws of the original in this two-part package.
The attention to detail in regards to its spritework is absolutely commendable. It is clear that the developers have a real passion for not only video games, but for skating as well. This may be something that would go over the average player’s head, however the sprite work shows each trick accurately as it would be in real life.
Final Score 61%
Just like many game series, the sequel improves on its predecessor graphically and technically. Due to its complete lack of story and the gameplay being much of the same thing, we would simply recommend buying the sequel if that were an option on Nintendo Switch. However, that is not the case. The first game simply feels like a beta to the far superior sequel, leaving me to question whether this bundle is a bargain or merely an attempt to flesh out the product in order to justify the price tag.
Do you agree with our score? Will you be picking up OlliOlli: Switch Stance? Let us know in the Comments section below.
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