OlliOlli: Switch Stance is a combination of 2 games – OlliOlli and the sequel, OlliOlli 2: Welcome to Olliwood. They have also been packaged together before as a retail release for PS4, called OlliOlli: Epic Combo Edition. I get the skater pun involving ‘Switch Stance’ and the Nintendo Switch, but I find it odd that they didn’t stick to the same naming convention.
The original was released on the 3DS and on the WiiU in early 2015 but, for whatever reason, the sequel never made its way to Nintendo consoles until now. My guess is the original didn’t sell well enough on those systems, which is a shame as I consider the sequel to be the far superior game.
There’s no real story attached to these side-scrolling skateboarding games. You just have to rack up points, complete objectives, and finish levels across a wide array of locales – at least, in OlliOlli 2 this is the case, the original doesn’t switch up the scenery much.
What it lacks in story, it makes up for in modes, however. Both games have a ‘Career’ mode that challenges you with beating certain tasks on each level, as well as ‘Spots’. The goal in these mini-levels is to get the highest score possible, which is then compared against others via an online leaderboard. At the time of playing, I had quite a few #1 spots, and chasing this can definitely be an enticing challenge for some. There’s also a ‘Daily Grind’ which is essentially the same thing, but – as the name suggests – it changes daily and the high scores reset.
Unfortunately, the gameplay in both OlliOlli games is let down slightly by their controls – they’re not easy to get to grips with, because you have to press B just as you’re about to land every time. That is, if you’re landing a trick on the ground, at least. If you’re landing on a rail, you need to push the right stick in a direction to initiate a grind instead. This leads to confusing situations where you pull the stick down when you want to land a trick or press B to try and grind, and it’s just frustrating they used this system. Initiating tricks is also a little finicky – it’s very similar in premise to EA Skate’s trick system, in theory, where you spin the stick around in different ways to perform your flips.
The adversity comes from the actual execution, though. Your skater won’t start a trick until you let go of the left stick, so you actually have to draw the pattern and then let go to perform the action. The fact that it’s so close to Skate’s system but differs in one vital aspect is what made it tough for me to get to grips with, but if you’ve never played that series then perhaps this won’t be an issue.
I did eventually get the hang of it, and the game got significantly more entertaining when you start to chain tricks and grinds together and learn to land each with perfect timing. Another reason OlliOlli 2 is vastly superior in my opinion is the addition of manuals. By holding B plus and a direction on the left stick when you land, you can continue your combo string by initiating manuals. Going back to OlliOlli after playing the sequel makes it feel incomplete just due to this simple addon.
The sound effects are spot on, hitting the classic ‘wheels on tarmac’ and ‘tail hitting the floor before a trick’ sounds perfectly. It’s exactly what you’d expect from a skateboarding game, and it’s nice to hear it deliver. I’m afraid to say that the music doesn’t share this, though. It’s odd and almost offputting how the soundtrack doesn’t really fit the theme, for either game. It’s a strange mix that includes soft, subtle jazzy numbers, but I was expecting to hear rock, punk, or metal music. The skate and Tony Hawk’s series even adopted hip-hop quite heavily towards the end of their prestige, but none of that is found here. That’s not to say that the audio is bad in OlliOlli: Switch Stance, but it definitely didn’t seem appropriate.
Visuals & Performance
The graphics are very basic in the original OlliOlli, with a low-pixel grunge-y aesthetic, but it’s significantly improved in the sequel. They swap out the rough-looking textures for a clean, simplistic, almost futuristic look that I think is fitting. The menus throughout are neat and colorful, which is nice to see, and the animations for the skateboard flipping and rotating is easily recognizable.
Unsurprisingly, there were no performance issues to speak of, this isn’t a particularly taxing game and there’s no issue whatsoever playing in handheld mode. Unless you value your battery life, that is. As OlliOlli: Switch Stance is constantly connected to the internet and updating leaderboards, I found it took quite a strain on the battery in handheld mode. If you don’t care about online leaderboards, I’d definitely recommend playing in flight mode.
In terms of value, OlliOlli: Switch Stance certainly has a lot to offer for the price. There are hours of playtime completing the various levels and challenges, and the daily grind could keep you coming back regularly. Its $14.99 USD pricetag is perhaps a little kinder on Americans than our £13.49 GBP, but it still has decent value for money. It might be too much for some, though, considering it’s essentially a port of games that are nearing 5 years old.
Stringing combos together feels great
2 games, lots of modes to come back for
Have to get used to the controls