I had a brief (but very passionate) relationship with the “Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater” franchise when it was new. I explored every inch of it with the same fervor, enthusiasm, and ineptitude that an overly excited virgin does with their first sex partner. I was not a very graceful lover, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying myself.

Of course, in this scenario, it didn’t matter if Tony was having fun, because Tony was a video game. I didn’t have to apologize to it for my “baby deer standing up for the first time” style of lovemaking. It accepted me, taught me, and allowed me to improve as it slowly added more complex techniques to our sessions.

But the hotter the flame, the quicker it burns. I quickly grew disinterested in Tony. In fact, by the time the fourth game came out, the fire had already become a smoldering ember. It was at that point we parted ways. There were some brief one night stands after that, but it was never the same. I was looking for something different. Something Tony no longer offered.

Also, Tony was a bit of a whore. The mechanics introduced in those games became something of a video game fad during that time. Tony was sleeping around… a lot. And I didn’t really care what kind of parentless latchkey kids it left in its debaucherous wake.

As virile as Tony may have been at one point, its status as a sexual tyrannosaurus was eventually stripped. Tony became fat, bloated, and impotent. Probably the Moutain Dew; that stuff is toxic. Or the STDs Tony picked up once it started getting bootlegged in China.

Today, Tony isn’t really up to much. Neither are any of its illegitimate children. I think they squat in time shares when people aren’t in them.

My time pining after skateboarding games was over. A phase of my life I outgrew; only having the sweet memories of a young, taut Tony to occasionally stir my heart. On occasion, I’ll fleetingly remember the time when Tony and I first met. It was the Playstation Underground demo disc. We spent all of that first night together. Goldfinger’s “Superman” was forever our song. A reminder of what used to be, but can never be again.

At least, that’s what I thought.

Last year, developer Roll7 came out with a game called “OlliOlli”, and it was very good. I played quite a bit of it. However, its impact on the gaming scene was muffled by the fact that it was originally only available on the Vita. Then, when it finally came to consoles, it was still too obscure to get anybody to bother. “OlliOlli” just wasn’t sexy enough.

I think that has changed with the release of “OlliOlli2: Welcome to Olliwood”, though. And that’s partially due to two facts:

  1. It’s free for PS Plus members right now. RIGHT. NOW. You have no excuses not to try it out if you own a Sony system.
  2. More importantly, it’s a MUCH better game than the original.

“OlliOlli” is a 2D skateboarding game. Each stage is a downhill jam full of tricky jumps, special grinds to find, items to collect, and crap to avoid hitting. Basically, everything that Tony was, but flatter; more arcadey, and faster paced.

Oh, and a lot fucking harder.

OlliOlli2: Welcome to Olliwood

Before we get into that, let’s talk about the basics. See, this is another way in which “OlliOlli” is similar to Tony. When Tony first skated onto the scene, there was no other game that featured controls like it. “OlliOlli” is the same exact way, though the controls are different. It communicates with you an entirely new manner. This means you have to learn a new language that is entirely counter-intuitive to anything you’ve ever seen before.

It’s not that the controls are complicated. Actually, they’re very simple. You only use one analog stick, the ‘X’ button, and two of the shoulder buttons. It’s what you DO with them that’s hard to get used to.

You have to hold the analog stick down, in any direction, and then let go to jump. Flick it in various quarter-circle, half-circle, or other fighting game motions to pull tricks out of that. Holding down the shoulder buttons while tricking will make you do more advanced tricks. While in the air, holding down a shoulder button will spin you. To grind, just press any direction you want on a rail. Do this while pressing a shoulder button at the same time to do cooler grinds. Then, when you find the ground, press X to land without faceplanting.

We’re not done yet. You need to time things properly, as well. Getting perfect grinds and landings helps you keep your momentum, ensuring you can keep moving at a good pace. Also, it helps out your score, since your multiplier will go up more.

The concept is easy to learn, incredibly difficult to get used to, but is immensely satisfying to play once you do. It just flows so well. Achieving mastery of this technique is a daunting task. Mastery that you’ll probably attempt, since the game is so fun, but you most likely won’t achieve.