There's only one way to build upon a game's success: take the original concept, tack on a Hollywood theme, and pack it full of puns. British developer Roll7's clearly been taking tips from fellow favourite Hello Games, as OlliOlli 2: Welcome to Olliwood [Sigh – Ed] has followed an almost identical progression to daredevil extraordinaire Joe Danger. Fortunately, as with the aforementioned filmic foray, this is destined for success at the annual indie academy awards – in fact, this slick skating sequel schools most blockbusters when it comes to raw gameplay appeal.
The premise remains unchanged: you are a bro in a baseball cap with some serious board-based skills. Rotating the analogue stick in a variety of controller crunching quarter circles enables you to perform tricks, which in turn add to your score tally. The twist is that you need to manually land these manoeuvres as you come into contact with the ground, otherwise you'll see your points total ripped up swifter than an NYSYNC poster circa 2002. It's a tricky system to wrap your head around, but practice makes perfect – as the cool kids at our local skate park used to sneer back in the day, anyway.
So far, so familiar, then – but there are a couple of game changing additions that give this sequel superman status. The first seems minor, but makes a massive difference: manuals. By pushing left or right while your board comes into contact with the ground, you'll be able to take two wheels off the floor, allowing you to chain entire stages from start to finish. The same rules apply – you still need to bank your combo with a clean landing – but the addition adds an amazing sense of risk to every run, as one bum landing will leave you feeling like you've bailed in real life.
And you can up that sense of danger even further if you desire: reverts enable you to add a twisty ballroom twirl to your touchdowns, which can then be chained into a manual if you have the finger flicking skills. Grinds can also be transitioned – but only if you connect to the rail with perfect timing. While all of this may sound too complex for the average skater boy's small brain, the beauty of the board-'em-up is just how easy all of these tricks are to execute; the real challenge comes from pulling them all together in one perfectly timed DualShock 4 destroying combo.
As such, you'll be restarting levels a lot – a tap of the triangle button will send you back to the starting line faster than you can say 'Mmmbop' – predominantly because you know that you can do better. This is one of those games that lays out all of the tools that you need to succeed, but dares you to use them. Cleverly, it does sprinkle in many of the abovementioned mechanics gradually as you progress, preventing newcomers from being bamboozled – while also enabling you to go back to earlier stages and seriously smash your initial scores.
And it's those all-important points tallies that are certainly the star of this arcade-inspired outing. The developer has learned its lesson from the previous instalment and incorporated scoreboards into every single level, meaning that you can compare your skills to the rest of the world in each individual stage. The campaign structure remains more or less the same, with 25 main levels set across five environments, each boasting increasingly difficult objectives for you to complete. Beating these will unlock Pro stage variants, which ultimately pave the way to the uber-tough RAD mode.
There are also Spots – small little areas of kickflip bliss – which require you to score as many points as possible in one run, as well as the rotating Daily Grind, a one-shot challenge which rotates every day. Sadly, the excellent local multiplayer mode – which we thoroughly enjoyed when we tried it last year – hasn't made it into this version, with the developer telling us that it'll be added as a post-release patch. This party pastime essentially sees you competing for points in split screen, and is just approachable enough to make it enjoyable for anyone that gives it a go.
And onlookers will want to try the title because it looks great. Added animations give the action a much smoother look than its predecessor, and this is furthered by much more attractive movie set stages. These range from an abandoned theme park with a ghoulish guise all the way through to a sci-fi skyline littered with toxic waste. The clever thing about these environments is that they all employ colour coding to ensure that you always understand your limits; you won't be trying to manual on a rail, for example. Even more importantly, each level is impeccably designed.
Who needs blockbusters when your local indie theatre is rolling out releases like this? OlliOlli 2: Welcome to Olliwood doesn't re-invent the wheel, but its subtle tweaks result in a vastly improved experience; Tony Hawk's promised Pro Skater reboot will certainly have its work cut out if it wants to top Roll7's latest take on the genre. Tight controls, top-notch levels, and tons of content ensure that this sequel makes a clean landing – the only stumble being that its excellent local multiplayer mode isn't quite ready for prime time yet.