OlliOlli: Switch Stance is a celebratory lap for indie developer Roll7, which has achieved critical acclaim with each of their releases. Despite Not A Hero and Laser League broadening their audience, the studio went back to their skateboarding roots with the Switch compilation that packs together OlliOlli and OlliOlli2: Welcome to Olliwood. While this hopefully means that the developer will revisit the series sooner rather than later, I'll never ignore an excuse to grind some rails.
For those not familiar with the series, it essentially takes the analog stick-based trick system of Skate, blends it with the over-the-top locales of Tony Hawk's Pro Skater, and throws in challenging courses that wouldn't look out of place in Trials. It's a brilliant mix that forces players to time their landings via a button press in order to get the maximum points. Even if you combo through an entire stage, a high score won't be achieved unless the landing is smooth. Million point combos can turn into just a few thousand with just one missed opportunity. Helping make every trick a tense affair is that a single bail will end a run prematurely, and each level has five separate goals to complete.
OlliOlli essentially nailed the formula on its first go. This is obvious in the compilation, as both games share the same structure. However, it's extremely difficult to go back to the original after playing Welcome to Olliwood. This is due to the sequel adding manuals, a trick that allows skilled players to combo through entire levels. The trick system simply feels incomplete without this key addition. It's somewhat frustrating to know that you could be doing cooler combos if the game just allowed for it.
That being said, newcomers will have no clue what they're missing out on. If you start with the original, you should still have a blast grinding through. Frustratingly, players can't switch between the two games unless they reboot the software. Maybe that's for the best, as comparing the original to its superior sequel is just frustrating at times. There's nothing more embarrassing than trying to pull off a manual in order to keep your combo going and faceplanting because the move doesn't exist.
Beyond fleshing out its trick system, OlliOlli2 also raises the bar in another department: difficulty. After playing through both games back-to-back, I found considerably more difficulty in finishing Welcome to Olliwood. I rarely fail a stage in the original, typically hitting at least three goals without really trying. That isn't the case in the sequel. Merely finishing a stage was difficult in Olliwood. If I'm not consciously maximizing my score and pulling off specific stunts, I end up finishing without completing a single goal.
Despite not being exceptionally long, OlliOlli: Switch Stance has the depth and online features to keep players coming back. Finishing all the goals takes quite some time, and your reward is a set of even more difficult goals to complete. Daily challenges and leaderboards also reward regular players. It's easy to see OlliOlli slotting into your daily gaming rotation. Seeing a friend with a ridiculously high score is a great motivation to further one's knowledge of the in-depth trick system. As you master its minutia, OlliOlli becomes more and more fun.
If there is one major disappointment with the collection it's that it reeks of missed potential. With the second game furthering the trick system past the original, it becomes difficult to go back to OlliOlli. An expanded version of the second game that included the levels and goals of the original would have been much better overall. Of course, that's also much more work and might not be a financially viable option for Roll7. One has to judge the collection for what it is, not what they want it to be. Still, that feeling of slight disappointment persists.
Minor qualms aside, OlliOlli still stands as an incredibly fun trick-based platformer. It will definitely test a player's masochism. It gets increasingly more challenging over time, but its reliance on skill keeps it from ever making you ragequit. Failure is always dependent on the player's skill. That key principle will make sure Switch owners go back to Switch Stance often. Just most likely to Welcome to Olliwood since it's the far superior title of the two.
TechRaptor reviewed OlliOlli: Switch Stance on Nintendo Switch with a code provided by the developers.
If you haven't played the series before then OlliOlli: Switch Stance is a no-brainer. There's not much reason to return, but the gameplay remains as satisfying as ever.
- Incredible Gameplay
- Perfect For Mobile
- Keeps Skating Alive
- Can't Switch Titles
- Original Aged Poorly
- Missed Potential