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‘OlliOlli World’ is a great Switch experience, despite a few flaws | Engadget

OlliOlli World, the delightfully offbeat skateboarding platformer, launched a few weeks ago on basically every gaming console you could ask for. It’s a clean break for the series, taking familiar gameplay but putting it in a totally redesigned world that allows for more exploration, competition and tricks.

You may not recall, but the original OlliOlli was released in 2014 exclusively for the PS Vita before hitting more platforms over the following years. That was my first exposure to the game, and I played it non-stop whenever I traveled; for a few years, the Vita was a constant companion on work trips and vacations alike.

I sunk untold hours into the two OlliOlli games on the Vita, mastering almost everything they threw at me. (I was never able to hack the insane “Rad” mode, where you had to make every single landing perfectly or else you’d slam and have to start the level over.) So while I was thrilled to try OlliOlli World on the PS5, I’ve also been wondering how it works on the Switch — would this be my new on-the-go gaming addiction, or do the compromises of playing on aging hardware degrade the experience?

After a couple weeks, I’m happy to say that OlliOlli World looks and plays great on the Switch. Still, there are a few things you’ll want to know as you decide which platform to buy it on. Of course, the game gives up some visual fidelity on the Switch — as with all games, 1080p when docked to a TV and 720p on the console’s built-in display is as good as it gets, a far cry from the beautifully detailed 4K visuals you’ll get on the PS5 or Xbox Series X. OlliOlli World on the Switch does target 60 fps, similar to other consoles.

Roll7

None of these changes are surprising; we all know the Switch is less powerful than modern systems. But fortunately, these changes largely don’t make a difference. The character models of your skater, as well as the many people you meet across the skateboarding haven of Radlandia, are indeed less detailed on the Switch. What’s most important is that the game’s gorgeous art style still shines. OlliOlli World is one of the most vibrant games I’ve ever played, and it looks especially vibrant on the OLED Switch’s screen. While it took me a few minutes to adjust to the lower-resolution experience here, I mostly didn’t think about it once I got down to the game’s core skateboarding action.

The difference in frame rate is more noticeable. OlliOlli World is an extremely fast game, one that really benefits from running at 60 fps. But despite the fact that developer Roll7 targeted 60 fps for the Switch, there were times that I felt like it dipped even below 30 fps. Roll7 did a great job of making the Switch version feel smooth enough that gameplay isn’t usually impacted, but sometimes the game would drop frames in a crucial moment that led to me unceremoniously slamming after a trick. The vast majority of the time, things stayed steady enough that it didn’t impact my gameplay. But there’s no doubt that you’ll notice dropped frames compared to how the game plays on the PS5.

I also came across frame rate drops in other parts of the game, like the animation that happens when your skater kicks off a run, or the loading screen transitions that take place when moving from the map into a level. These don’t affect gameplay, but they’re hard to ignore and add to the feeling that the Switch struggles a bit to keep up with the action. But the fact that the frame rate usually stays solid when you’re on a course is far more important.

Probably the most significant compromise that comes when playing on the Switch are the Joy-Con’s relatively tiny analog sticks. Compared to the spacious sticks on PlayStation and Xbox controllers, it’s a bit harder to pull off the game’s more complex tricks when playing on the Switch. Again, though, it’s not a deal-breaker. I’ve thrown down plenty of impressive runs and beat nearly every single challenge the game has thrown at me over the course of dozens of levels.

That said, I’m getting far enough into OlliOlli World on the Switch that levels are getting increasingly difficult, and I’m a little worried about keeping up with the more difficult levels that’ll come over the two worlds I have yet to conquer yet. I’m confident that I’ll be able to make it through basically any level the game throws at me. But each level has a number of specific challenges you can optionally complete — to truly master those, I might end up docking my Switch to the TV and playing with the Switch Pro Controller, which has much better analog sticks than the Joy-Con.

On the other hand, the PS Vita analog sticks are even smaller than those on the Switch, and I eventually mastered two OlliOlli games on that system. There’s no doubt that bigger controllers make pulling off the game’s tricks more comfortable and probably easier, but OlliOlli World is still extremely playable on the Switch.

To sum it up: there are a handful of compromises across graphics and gameplay if you choose to play on the Switch rather than a more powerful console. But I don’t think that they should stop you from playing the game on Nintendo’s handheld. It’s a great pick-up-and-play game, the kind of title you can spend a rewarding 10 minutes with or get lost in for multiple hours. The experience is a little more refined on Sony and Microsoft’s more powerful consoles, but you can’t easily take that on the go with you. If you don’t care about that, snap it up on the PS5 or Xbox Series X / S. But if you’re looking for a game that’s at home both on your TV and away from it, OlliOlli World on the Switch fits the bill perfectly.

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