Team Mario and Team Sonic, they’ve been to Beijing, they’ve been to Vancouver, they’ve been to London, they’ve been to Sochi, and now, they’re heading to Rio in Mario and Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games! Choose which gym you’d like to compete with, either Mario or Sonic, then train, compete, and go for gold. You may want to be careful, however, as certain somebodies may just have a few tricks up their sleeves to halt the games altogether!
Will Mario and Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games for Nintendo take home the gold, or will it not even qualify? Find out in our review, after the break!
Mario and Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games
Nintendo 3DS Family Systems
Developed by SEGA
Published by Nintendo
Released: 18th March 2016 (NA) 8th April 2016 (EU)
Review copy provided by Nintendo
Screenshots courtesy of Nintendo
When you first launch Mario and Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, you are greeted with a colourful and energetic display and music, which really puts you into the Rio Olympic Games mood. The menus, though colourful, are also fairly simplistic, but this works in the game’s favour as you can jump right into an event with a few taps of the stylus.
If you wish to jump straight into some events, then you’ll want to play the Rio 2016 Quick Play Mode, here, you have instant access to all the 14 main sporting events, these range from the 100m and Archery, to Rhythm Gymnastics and Football. Almost all the events offer a little bit of fun and are generally easy to play. Unfortunately, most of these are fairly short-lived and lack much depth, making these events clearly more enjoyable in short bursts for when you are on the train, or sitting upon the throne (don’t deny it, we all do it). Events like Football and Golf, on the other hand, do have a bit more meat on their bones, which is probably why they have bigger buttons on the Event Select screen. I will admit that I actually found the Football event fairly addicting, think of it like a very watered-down version of the FIFA games, where the players are characters from the Mario and Sonic franchises. Golf puts you on a generic course where the regular rules of golf apply, hit the ball, and try to get it into the hole in as little strokes as possible, while avoiding landing in the river or the rough. You get to choose which club to use, and depending how far back you pull the stylus, how quickly you flick it, and how straight the flick is will affect the power of your shot and how much the ball curves.
Though these events do contain more depth and strategy compared to the rest, it still feels that SEGA and Nintendo missed some potential here, I understand that this isn’t a golf or football game, but a all-round sport game, but it still feels like more effort could have been put into it. Another annoyance, is the fact that out of the huge roster of 41 characters, there are only seven pre-determined characters to choose from for each event, three from Team Mario, Three from Team Sonic, and your Mii. Though each character does have different stats attributed to them, it isn’t too obvious that they perform different most of the time, rather just giving a different aesthetic, which could lead to fair multiplayer matches, or a 3DS crammed into your Cerebellum when your older sibling realises that a fat plumber can run just as fast as the fastest hedgehog in the world, Sonic.
Dream Events are no more, and are instead replaced by 14 Plus Events, which are essentially all the regular events with a slight unique Mario and Sonic twist. These can range from the unimaginative, such as just tacking on power-up items (á la Mario Kart) or replacing static obstacle to moving Mario and Sonic enemies, to the crazy, like diving under and riding waves in the 100m Freestyle Swimming. It’s rather unfortunate that some potential has really been missed with some of the Plus Events, for example, the 100m Dash gives you a roulette wheel of items at the beginning, and depending what you get will affect how fast you run if you can grab the item. Golf Plus is one of the better Plus Events as it is essentially has the gimmicks of mini golf in regular golf. One of my biggest problems with the events on offer, is the fact that the majority offer very limited replay value, several great events from previous games are omitted, don’t get what I am talking about, just take a look at the Events list for Mario and Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic games for 3DS. If you are hoping for the relay, rowing, or the hammer throw, then you may be disappointed as you will not be able to play these events in Quick Play, though there is still some sign of them in the Road to Rio however.
The Road to Rio is the Story Mode of Mario and Sonic 2016. Your Mii has just arrived at the site of the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, ready to compete for glory, when he is quickly thrown into a conflict between a Team Sonic and Team Mario Fan, from here, you’ll have to choose which gym to join, either Sonic’s or Mario’s. Depending on which gym you choose will determine which story you will follow. Both stories are fairly similar, in which you have to compete in the games to get gold medals, but during the competition, there is something, or someone, trying to cause a dangerous rivalry between the two teams and cause the games to be ruined. Each day of the Road to Rio will place you in one of four areas of Rio, where you can move around freely (almost). There are various Miis and other characters whom you can talk to, some will give you little hints for specific events or the game itself, whereas others will add a bit to the story. Though the story isn’t that detailed, it is still worth talking to as many characters an Miis as possible to gain some further insight to the story, I made the mistake of not doing so and I missed a fairly important plot line, so I kinda got thrown off a bit towards the end!
There are seven days in each story, and each day is the host to a different event. The day starts with the Semi-Finals, then, once you have won that, you can then move onto the Finals against a rival character. To aid you on your journey, you can compete in training events. These are short mini games which are based on various Olympic events, some of which you can’t even play in Quick Play. For example, there’s one training event which has you pulling the actual 3DS to row in time with your teammates, and another has you swimming on your last breath where you have to use the speed gates as an advantage to retrieve a bottle of energy drink.
Completing Training Events will net you experience points, which you can use to level up. Whenever you level up, your star rating is increased. But what exactly does a star rating do? Well, when you complete Training Events, you will also receive some fruit, you can then trade this fruit with with the Blue Yoshi for different outfits. Each outfit will change your stats, and you will need to outweigh your opponent’s stats if you want a better chance of bringing home the gold. Outfits also have a star rating, and you can only wear clothes which only add up to your own star rating. For example, If a shirt has a star rating of 5, and a helmet has a star rating of 4, you have to have a star rating of 9 or above if you wish to wear those pieces of clothing together. It sounds a bit convoluted, but it really isn’t. My only problem with levelling up is the fact that it is INCREDIBLY tedious in doing so. You only have four training events per game day, so if you really want to wear the higher rated clothing, then you will have to play the same mini games over and over again to do so. If you aren’t sick of the Training Events by the time you have completed Road to Rio a couple times, then you can replay all the completed ones from the Training menu.
Mario and Sonic’s multiplayer mode, Versus Mode returns, allowing you to play with up to 3 other friends locally, even if they do not own the game. Best of all, using download play (single cart mode) does not limit which sports you can play like a lot of download play titles do, however you will have to download every event you play from the host before you play it, which can dampen the rhythm of play. There are two options for Versus mode, Freeplay and Random Medley. Freeplay lets you play any event, both regular and Plus, whereas Random Medley will choose a selection of events at random, you can play anywhere from 2 to 10 events in a match of Random Medley.
If you want to get slightly more involved with the Olympics, then you can also try out the Pocket Marathon mode. This mode uses the steps you take with your 3DS system and converts it to miles, so you can compete in different Marathon courses. At certain points, you will be joined by the Miis of other players from around the world depending on your progress, some of these Miis may also arrive from the wonders of StreetPass. You will also receive rewards, like fruit, and pieces of clothing the more you walk. It’s another nice way to have fun walking with you 3DS, but it does seem just a bit like added fluff.
Mario and Sonic 2016 also includes Achievements, which act similarly to Challenges in Super Smash Bros. for Wii U/3DS, and Kid Icarus Uprising. Once you complete an achievement, you break a window, but in Mario and Sonic, every achievement has three levels. A few of them are relatively easy, but there are also some pretty difficult ones too, so this can easily add some replayability for the perfectionists. What’s disappointing however, is the fact that you only get rewards for every ten Level 3 achievements you complete, though this could just be extra motivation to get your game on. Finally, you can also compare all event records online, both worldwide and with friends, unfortunately a regional view is omitted. One thing which doesn’t make sense though, is how you have to manually update each and every even whenever you want to look at the most recent rankings, it isn’t updated automatically, which is a bit of a shame.
Overall, Mario and Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games for Nintendo 3DS is a fairly simplistic yet very lacklustre game. It misses out on so much potentially with the small selection of events, and the story mode can easily become very tedious to level up and get all the costumes. Luckily, the Plus Events do give the game some recovery as a lot of them bring some imaginative twists to some traditional Olympic sports. It’s great to see that Download Play doesn’t limit what can be played, though the multiplayer mode as a whole still feels fairly empty. The game is also perfect for newcomers as the majority of events are all pretty easy to grasp and may provide small bursts of joy and fun.
If you want a game to enjoy in short bursts based on sports, are huge fans of the Mario and Sonic games, or just want something to get you into the Rio 2016 Olympic Games mood, then it may be worth checking this game out. If you are wanting a game which offers a lot of replay value and more options with events you can play, then we would recommend you give it a miss.