What would happen if you were to combine two of the most iconic franchises in gaming history and implement them into one of the planets most loved sporting events? It would be a recipe for unadulterated success, right? The Mario & Sonic Olympics titles have over the years tried to work with this winning formula but have reluctantly come in second place. This year Mario & Sonic, along with their respective friends, head to Brazil to compete in one of the worlds most anticipated spectacles, the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
…and they’re off!
After booting up Mario & Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games your menu screen provides a number of gameplay options. Rio 2016 Quick Play, Road To Rio, Versus Mode and Pocket Marathon are the noteworthy selections regardless that they are for the most part nauseatingly similar. The Quickplay mode allows you to partake in fourteen different Olympic events. The events range from the 100 meter dash to a more substantial round of golf. This mode allows you to break records and personal bests. In addition to the various events there are Plus Events. Plus Events adds a unique twist to the traditional Olympic events. In these events there are scenarios reimagined with an overlaying Mario and Sonic theme. When you complete each event on varying difficulties you unlock a gold medal and when finishing an event in hard mode you are rewarded with a shiny futile star.
What does Rio hold for Mario and Sonic?
The Road To Rio mode is sadly the games crowning glory and this doesn’t say much. This mode is divided into two ‘separate’ stories, one for Team Mario and the other for Team Sonic. Each mode sees you joining either of the respective gyms with your Mii character to partake in seven days of tedious training, preliminary and main events. Once you complete your training you are rewarded with training points and apples with which you can purchase outfits from the less famous Light-Blue Yoshi Outfit Shop. Once you’ve built up enough stats you partake in the preliminary events and then go head-to-head with the opposing teams event specialist. I’m not quite sure how training for table tennis makes you better at the hurdles event but let’s not read too much into it. Treasure chests are scattered around the different venues but hold little reward unless you are after more apples, mediocre costumes or musical instruments that you can use from the menu screen. After partaking in all the mind-numbing training events and winning various medals the story leans towards an interesting plot. Finally, some substance to this micro game from hell… and then it ends. Time to partake in the other teams campaign. That’s it. One of the most disappointing ‘endings’ I’ve ever experienced. You’ve finally leveled your Mii up enough to compete against the best of the best and now you have to relive this in the same campaign with a different skin. The fun part is that you now get to start off will all your previously acquired stats. Yup, you now get to beat your opponents by barley touching a button. I’m still trying to wrap my head around this logic.
Versus Mode allows you to play with up to four friends. You can play locally with friends who also have the misfortune of owning the game or you can use the Download Play function to infect another 3DS with this filth. There is no online play but you are treated to leaderboards where you can compare your events friends or random strangers.
Finally, there is the Pocket Marathon. A mode where you are rewarded for the number of steps you take while your 3DS is in sleep mode. Daily bonuses come in the form of currency, special items and outfits.
Not a podium finish
The visuals and sound aren’t all that bad but don’t stand out as anything special. This could easily be compared to the previous version of the game from four years ago. The script writing and interaction between characters holds the charm you’d expect from the multitude of iconic characters. With regard to expectations; Rio 2016 Olympic Games also has tacked on amiibo functionality. You can use the Mario or Sonic amiibo to unlock two special outfits. That’s it. Amazing right? A massive array of characters and you get to use two amiibo to unlock an outfit. The entire game suffers from this half-hearted effort, making it more of a chore to play than an enjoyable experience. Even the most loyal of fans will struggle to find anything worthwhile in Mario and Sonic’s latest trip to the Olympics games. Let’s hope that the Wii U version later in the year has more to offer.