Every couple of years, two of gaming's most iconic mascots compete in Olympic events. This fifth iteration of the series has Mario & Sonic landing in Rio so let's find out if the festivities are worth attending.
The Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games series has always made it easy for gamers to pick up and play ever since its 2007 debut on the original Wii. This time around, the events are just as simple. Of course, competing by yourself isn't nearly as fun as with friends so thankfully four players can play together either competitively, cooperatively, or a combination of the two (depending on the event). A lot of the events featured in this package share similar controls so learning how to master each of them is quite an easy feat. For example, running involves charging up at the starting line and tapping a button as fast as you can as soon as it's time to race. Even the more complex events like Football (Soccer) and Equestrian are simplified to the point where you don't even need instructions before jumping in. Overall, the easy to pick up and play gameplay is perfect for an afternoon of gaming with friends.
Events in Mario & Sonic at the Rio Olympics
- Rugby Sevens
- Beach Volleyball
- Triple Jump
- 4 x 100m Relay
- Table Tennis
As expected in almost every game with Mario in the title, Mario & Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games is bursting with colourful visuals and lively music set in a wonderful atmosphere. It's difficult not to let your eyes wander off the action to gander at the Toads and Chao observing the event. Whether it's dancing Koopa Troopas or the odd adorable Flicky, there are so many cute characters populating the backgrounds that it makes the game world irresistibly charming. You can play as many classic Mario and Sonic characters and even though some are noticeably absent, there's still enough here that it's not disappointing. Each athlete is very well animated and brimming with personality. On top of all this, the music is full of catchy Brazilian vibes and familiar tunes.
Out of all the included events, a few of them stand out as excellent compared to the rest. First, the three main sports (Football, Rugby, and Volleyball) are handled well and even feature an alternate mode each (known as Duel) which changes the rules to make the gameplay more stimulating. For example, Duel Beach Volleyball contains power-ups that you can attack opponents with. Anyway, Equestrian and Gymnastics both incorporate rhythm-oriented gameplay in that success relies on your ability to time moves and I found them very rewarding to play. 4 x 100m Relay takes the simple running gameplay and adds quick time events in order to pass the baton which I thought was rather enjoyable. Archery implements many various ways to present targets to freshen up its gameplay while BMX made me feel like I was playing Excitebike again (although it isn't quite as fun). In the end, there sure are some great events here.
On the other end of the spectrum, most events are far too basic to be enjoyable for longer than a few attempts. While playing Beach Volleyball, I stopped pushing buttons and my team scored a few points without me even doing anything. Am I playing a game or watching a cartoon? Certain games last a very short time (such as 100m) so replaying them gets extremely repetitive very quickly. Finally, some events are downright irritating. Boxing has both competitors almost constantly being knocked down while Swimming has you run out of stamina every few seconds. I understand that you're supposed to conserve stamina but then you fall behind. It's like the game starts working against you at that point. Basically, events like these are far more tedious than they should be.
Another complaint is the fact that too much content is locked. I enjoy unlocking goodies as much as the next gamer, but not being able to use amiibo until you achieve 25 medals just isn't right. Besides, I want to compete with friends so why am I forced to play by myself in order to unlock more content? Sure, you can play some cooperative tournaments but not every event is accessible this way. That leads me to my next point: for a collection of games that's far more enjoyable with other people, where is online multiplayer? Mario Sports Mix had it and that's a Wii game from five years ago. I hope the next installment adds an online component.
Mario & Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games is a mostly enjoyable collection of simple events set in a colourful world. Although it has its downsides, the festivities are still worth taking part in if you're looking for some Olympic-sized fun.
- + Events are easy to pick up and play with up to four local players
- + Fantastic music and visuals
- + A few stand-out events are great fun
- - Most of the events are too simplified, short, and repetitive for lasting appeal
- - Too much locked content / no online
- - Some events are irritating to play