“If you only knew the power of the Darkslides.” That’s not only a borked Star Wars quote, it’s also a new special move in the recently revealed sequel to the one of PS Vita’s most surprising indie smashes. Webster’s – or, Roll7’s – Tricktionary redefined what a skateboarding game could be last year. Now, the tiny Deptford studio has its maplewood aimed at the silver screen with OlliOlli2: Welcome To Olliwood. Get ready to dust off those adorable shins…
“Ten years ago, if you walked into PlayStation and pitched a 2D skater, you’d have probably been laughed out of the room,” Simon Bennett tells us, as we chat about a movie-focused skating sequel that’s been radically revamped to reflect the fact your tiny extreme sports dude will now bust out those Nollie Backside Shove-Its on PS4 and PS Vita simultaneously at launch. Luckily, for one of Roll7’s three directors, and fans of indies everywhere, attitudes towards smaller games have changed drastically in the last decade.
Thanks to Sony’s continued support for the indie movement since PS4’s launch, the industry is gradually being weaned off its obsession and insistence on triple-A experiences. It’s this level of accommodating corporate backing that has led to the return of the beloved boarder. “The Strategic Content team in SCEE seems to have been created more out of a genuine love for independent games than simply business needs,” offers Bennett. “That’s crucial!”
In summary… Roll7 and Sony sitting in a tree ‘K-I-S-S-I-N-G’. It’s terrific PlayStation is birthing such fruitful relationships, but you came here for fresh details on all things Fakie Impossible-related. “We knew we wanted to massively enhance the combo system and add a whole bunch more tricks for the player to master,” Bennett says.
Ah yes, that combo system. Brilliantly received at the time of the original’s release, the potential of those wonderfully supple left stick trick moves have been greatly expanded with the addition of Ramps, Jumps and Epic Hills to maximise your extreme plank’s departure from terra firma. That, and the debut of some much needed love for your board’s back wheels.
“We knew we wanted to add Manuals – so they were the first to go in. Adding the animation is simple, but balancing them to ensure they have the right risk/reward profile has taken literally months.” These rear-wheeled rolls are just one part of the myriad tricks that benefit from a staggering 9,000 new animations. Skater Dude really has been swotting up over the summer.
He’s also seemingly done a stint at film school. Setting up his Frontside Bigspin-ing trade at Olliwood Studios, the sequel’s bite-sized levels are inspired by the team’s love for ‘80s cinema. “There will be references to classic Spielberg movies dotted around,” admits Bennett. “With a few nods to more recent films too…” Hey, as long as there’s a stage based loosely around a tiny homesick alien and a giant full moon, it’s all good by us.
Another key change for OlliOlli2 comes in its visual makeup. While those adorable pixelated textures created a perfectly retro feel when the brand was first targeted for PS Vita, Bennett and the rest of Roll7 felt a cleaner, bolder style was required to really make the skater shine on PS4. “We decided to move away from the pixel art approach and focus on a cleaner, sleeker art style. We’ve brought in an amazing new lead artist, Manuel Hirari, who has unified the visual side of things. The new style is so fluid and crisp.”
With the formerly talented Mr Hawk bailing courtesy of a misguided peripheral – oh, Ride – that spot reserved in our hearts for Anti-Casper Flips can’t wait for a run at OlliOlli2. PS4 deserves a great skater and, 2D or not, Roll7 looks set to deliver a grind-fest that would make The Birdman (and his ruined knees) truly proud.