For reasons we're still trying to figure out ourselves, there was no shortage of frogs at this year's not-E3. But only one proved it had the chops to take on skateboarding's giants—and if you blinked, you probably missed it.
Olliefrog: Toad Skater appeared on screen for about 14 seconds during the Wholesome Direct montage, a cramming of games at the end of an already crammed show. That's a shame, because despite its cutesy appearance, Olliefrog is already shaping up to be one hell of a shredder, which you can see for yourself thanks to a new itch demo.
It's sparse, just one park and one frog, but off the drop Olliefrog feels phenomenal. The momentum is right, the jump height, rail magnetism, grind balance, all comes together in this simple demo to show this frog has real skater's legs. There are currently no challenges, unlocks, or anything much beyond just carving lines—but a good skating game should be fun enough just to cruise around, and Olliefrog nails it.
It's particularly refreshing coming off the disappointment of Skatebird, a game that similarly pitched itself as "cute animals do skating". But in trying to map birds to board, Skatebird was loose, floaty, kind of a pain to control. The theming was flawless, dressing up your bird in cool hats ruled, and watching canaries tear apart a tiny toy box skatepark sure looked cool—but that first alpha demo felt rough, and I kept waiting for a fundamental improvement to how skating felt that never really came.
That said, Skatebird knew how strong its birds on boards pitch was, and leaning all the way in is why we're even talking about it today. Olliefrog, for as much as I love it, is a little lacking in character right now—safely playing in that wholesome low-poly pastel aesthetic. The game's Kickstarter campaign hints at more creative environments, but I want to see things get froggy.
I want to see big, huge hops off ramp-shaped lily pads. I wanna see those sticky tongues used to mix up lines with grapples, or create amphibious skateparks that span land and pond. There's so much potential in the pitch, if the developer is willing to get a little weird with it.
But as it stands, Olliefrog is still a great wee skater that's well worth a shot. And if nothing else, it's proof that tiny indies can indeed create games that hold their own against Tony Hawk's Pro Skater.