Entertainment Reviews

Thursday 28 August 2014

Old-school OlliOlli skates thin line between frustration and fun

Reviewed: OlliOlli, Mario and Sonic at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, Mario Party Island Tour

Ronan Price

Published 12/02/2014 | 14:08

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OlliOlli for PS Vita
Mario and Sonic at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics
Mario Party Island Tour
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OlliOlli

PS Vita download

RATING: 8/10

AGE: 3+

THERE is a school of thought that decries how modern games have become too easy. From recharging health to Mario’s Super Guide, the new tricks of the trade signify most developers recognise not all gamers have perfectionist skills or infinite time.

But the likes of skateboard platformer OlliOlli laugh in the face of such concessions, preferring to hark to the unforgiving hey-day of the arcade. One mistake equals failure.  How much fun can that be?

The answer, surprisingly, is plenty, so long as you can handle the inevitable frustration. This isn’t Flappy Birds, it’s actually fun to play.

Crucially, the precise controls ensure you’ll feel any blunder is down to your own lack of concentration, rather than capricious fate.

OlliOlli doesn’t reinvent the skateboarding wheel – the aim remains to string together as many tricks and combos as possible, without crumpling to the ground in a heap.

The pursuit of high-score nirvana lies in careful juggling of the left stick to trigger tricks and inch-perfect timing with the X button to land them safely. There’s a tense standoff between the two at heart of OlliOlli that soon becomes a muscle reflex propelling you to big points and the end of the cleverly designed levels.

Sure, a glorious run frequently ends with a faceplant and – ugh – a complete restart. But once you know what you’ve signed up for, this €10 download maddeningly compelling.

 

Mario and Sonic at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics

Wii U

RATING: 6/10

AGE: 3+

MUCH like the slight air of disarray in Sochi itself, the cartoon duo’s latest attempt to piggyback on the Olympic Games (winter or otherwise) has an unfinished feel about it.

This collection of mini-games feels not too far removed from the version for the London games, with the complication of the Wii U gamepad and the need to own the more sensitive WiiMotion Plus controllers.

Certainly, it’s not a game for just one player at home by themselves, with online multiplayer limited to a handful of events. Maximum enjoyment coincides with a bunch of friends (and for adults possibly a crateload of alcohol) and a willingness to make an idiot of yourself.

 

Mario Party Island Tour

Nintendo 3DS

RATING: 6/10

AGE: 3+

TO most of us in the West, MPIT makes little sense - a multiplayer board game for a handheld console. In Nintendo's native Japan, however, communal gatherings in public places for gaming sessions are a popular pastime - particularly if the words Monster Hunter are involved.

This portable version of the longrunning board game series is almost totally devoid of appeal in single-player mode - consisting of a dull succession of random dice rolls, waiting, mini-games... and waiting. Did I mention the waiting?

Some of the bite-sized moments  are good entertainment by themselves - but duds abound too. MPIT sparks into life only when you and three other human players get involved (sadly, there's no online multiplayer).

On the plus side, one copy of the copy supports up to three other consoles. But good luck finding a bunch of pals when your gaming hunger strikes - this isn't Japan, after all.

 

 

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