Mario & Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games (Nintendo 3DS) Review

By Jorge Ba-oh 06.04.2016 1

Review for Mario & Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games on Nintendo 3DS

It's been four years since London was inspired by the 2012 Olympic Games; a celebration of skill, raw talent and the desire to go for gold. It's the next nation's turn to host the summer event, with Rio de Janerio primed to bring an eclectic and energetic vibe to the biggest worldwide competition this year. With every Olympic event, there's always an opportunity for the gaming scene to celebrate, with different apps and games that can emulate, as close as possible, that feeling of representing your country in a bid for glory. One of these games stars the cast of the Super Mario Bros. series, who end up facing off against the folk from the Sonic the Hedgehog side - the latest mash-up between the pair being Mario & Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. How much has changed this time round and is it worth grabbing a ticket for this year's games?

Following in the footsteps of the past cross-over antics between hedgehog and plumber, the latest instalment of the popular series takes you through a series of quick and simple events against tricky computer-controlled opponents - from a cool dip in the pool to testing out those reflexes in a game of Table Tennis.

The main draw of Mario & Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games is a story feature where you suit up as a Mii character, spandex and all, heading over to Rio to train up and compete in events spread across different days, facing memorable folk as rivals. Want to race against the ever cheeky Yoshi or try to out-jump Mario himself? It's certainly possible, but will need a fair bit of training in order to be pumped enough to break through the qualifiers and conquer the main event. Before all that, though, you'll need to pick a side - whether it's the speed-driven animal critters or the athletes from the Mushroom Kingdom. By doing so, all hell breaks loose and your character is thrown into the heat of competition, with supporting characters doing their best to ignite a desire to overcome the rival team.

Mini training sessions allow you to practise those skills and talk to some of the non-playable cast by nipping around town and engaging with familiar faces - including some of the newbies like Rosalina and Rouge - who will introduce some of the controls and provide some banter on how the other team is getting on. It's an interesting setup - a way to introduce each of the playable mini-games and keep that competitive streak going. As for the overworld itself, whilst designed to be a hub of sorts to get around to each of the gyms and stadiums, it does seem fairly limited and a tad bit static - dialogue is stilted and characters tend to stand around, their soulless eyes piercing into the 3DS plastic.

Screenshot for Mario & Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games on Nintendo 3DS

Those of you familiar with the Mario & Sonic series, the mini-games serve up classic gameplay, typically involving frantic button presses to build up speed, or touchscreen swipes to throttle an opponent. Some classic games, like 100m or Long Jump, are difficult to really get excited about given how quickly they are over, but others are far more fleshed out and enjoyable for a speedy challenge or two. Archery is a good example, needing some skill in aiming using the 3DS gyroscope, and Table Tennis picking up the pace through pin-point timing.

The stars of the show have to be the Football and Golf events which bring on an arguably fuller experience; as you storm a pitch with a team of adorable Toads or take a more scenic trek to a golfing green - the action is varied and strategic, compared to the more linear events. New to the show this time round is Golf, which makes an appearance at the Olympic Games for the first time in over a hundred years. This particular challenge takes full advantage of the 3DS setup, using the touchscreen as a means of driving that ickle white ball towards the finishing flag. With fourteen regular events, there does seem to be a broad range of mini-games to play through; though those familiar with past entries may see these as simply treading familiar ground with a new backdrop.

Returning to the Mario & Sonic universe are a set of unique games that whisk competitors off to a more fantasy setting, with power-ups and décor inspired by the two worlds. Called "Plus Events", this is where things start to become a touch bit more creative; with the bounds of reality quashed in favour of more interesting ways to compete - including star power-ups for racing and even bullet bill rockets storming the ring during a boxing match. It's barmy and certainly the more enjoyable set of mini-games; where rules are out the window and it starts to feel more like a Mario or a Sonic title rather than a skinned sports game.

Screenshot for Mario & Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games on Nintendo 3DS

Don't have long to spare? The Quick Play function is available for those short bursts, and some games are perhaps more suited to those few minutes on a train sandwiched between two sweat infused commuters. The odd thing, though, is that despite the inclusion of twenty new characters to play as, the game doesn't allow any to be selected - instead picking a random set of competitors for each event and allowing you to pick from those.

Also new to Mario & Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games is a brand new option that puts the 3DS StreetPass functionality to good use by encouraging players to stop staring at their mobile phones, chained to the living room couch, and get up and enjoy the sunshine whilst it lasts. Called "Pocket Marathon," this particular feature tracks the steps you take using a 3DS console when it's in sleep mode (to avoid walking into oncoming traffic or a lamppost) and dishes out rewards from other 3DS players over StreetPass to spur you on. It's a nifty little feature that whilst not essential for the core experience is a smart way of bringing some fitness into the mix. Having strolled to the local supermarket and grabbed a heap of unhealthy snacks, the feature does work as expected, using the 3DS accelerometer to tally up the steps taken.

Mario & Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games includes support for local multiplayer, which works as well as expected - with download play for those without the game. There are enough events to keep the challenge going, whilst the majority having minimal learning curves to avoid the potential frustrations from newcomers not quite getting the timing just right. However, finding folk with 3DS consoles and willing to compete might be quite the challenge in a world dominated by consumers tethered to iPhones and Androids, so online play would have been a feature to challenge others from around the globe. The 3DS version, however, lacks online support, let alone online play, which is a shame given the competitive nature of the game. There's only so much that NPC characters can really offer in the long-run.

Screenshot for Mario & Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games on Nintendo 3DS

Visually Mario & Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games is a vibrant and colourful game that brings together an array of different themes from both Mario and Sonic worlds; from the palm trees and glowing emeralds to the mushrooms and brick blocks. Whilst it may not quite be the most graphically intense experience out there on Nintendo 3DS, the game serves up a smooth and detailed experience that shines brightest when the 3D switch is flicked to on. There's a surprising amount of depth across the field, and this is especially effective for events like Football or Volleyball that rely on the 3D perception.

How long Mario & Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games will last, or how much it will offer in the replay stakes, is down to the events themselves. Single-player story is a good means of packaging the event together, keeping the pace, but there perhaps isn't enough variety in there to replay it all over again. The dynamic between choosing a side might be worth another go, but it comes down to the Quick Play and whether local multiplayer is an option. There are costumes and unlockable rewards, though, which can be an enticing way of coming back to the game, but aside from cosmetic appeal and some modifiers, there isn't enough substance to justify hording currency in order to unlock them. However, with the more interesting Plus Events and fleshed out mini-games like Football and Golf, these could be worth coming back to for quick sessions on the move.

Screenshot for Mario & Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games on Nintendo 3DS

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 6 out of 10


Mario & Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games ticks the boxes when it comes to sticking true to the formula and delivering an experience that is competitive, fun and easily accessible for newcomers. The new additions like Golf, the playable characters and the Pocket Marathon features are good, as well as the twists to traditional Olympic events. For those of you who already own a Mario & Sonic game on 3DS, this particular instalment might be a difficult purchase to justify on the new content alone, but for newcomers, Mario & Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games is the most definitive handheld version yet.









C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   


It's a shame there's no online mode. I always think this sort of game would thrive with that extra competitive edge... Are there not even any online leaderboards, or anything like that?

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

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