Mario & Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games (Wii U) Review

By Drew Hurley 09.07.2016

Review for Mario & Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games on Wii U

It is 2016, so it's time for another Olympics event, which means a new iteration of Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games is here. This latest entry in the series has made the jump to Wii U, after launching earlier in the year on Nintendo 3DS, and has added some new events, along with improving on some old favourites, and has piled on plenty of new game modes and features, including amiibo functionality. Does all of this add up to a Gold, though, or will Mario & Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games have to settle for Bronze?

Welcome to Rio! A Samba beat is pulsing, the waves lap against the sandy shores, carnival floats and balloons trail past, while vibrant colours are abundant. This new version brings 14 events in total, with there being opportunities to foot race against Sonic and his fellow speedsters, partake in some Hot Gun level Beach Volleyball between the hunky Wario and Robotnik, or even watch Tails take part in some oddly disturbing dance routines…

With all of these types of party games, the game lives or dies on the strength of its events and here they are a real mixed bag. Some can be quite addictive and hark back to the good ol' days of Olympic Gold on the Mega Drive, bashing the 'A' button and interspersing with the 'B' or D-pad in frantic, finger-breaking moments, whilst others are just badly designed and either end up feeling slow, or repetitive and a chore. One of the biggest disappointments here is the Soccer. Anyone who played Super Mario Strikers will recall with fondness the addictive manic gameplay, in comparison this version is not only dull and one dimensional but feels horribly slow.

Considering this is on Wii U it's surprising to see the controls are fairly old school. There are no motion controls or touch screen features here, instead, going for the old school Track and Field mashing controls. The triple jump, 100-meter dash and relay all rely on these tried and tested gameplay mechanics. It's not all mashing, though, as there are plenty of other events with original mechanics, like Archery, Horseback Riding, Rugby, and Soccer, amongst others. The Rhythm Gymnastics, for example, is - fittingly - a rhythm game where the D-pad and 'A' button are used for hitting the notes in time with the music.

Screenshot for Mario & Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games on Wii U

One of the saving graces is that some of the worst events - Soccer and Rugby - come with an alternative "Duel" version. These are where the game feels most like the classic Mario Party releases, as damage can be dished out to opponents via iconic power-ups, building up points for doing so, and then netting more points by scoring. There is duel Soccer, Rugby, and Volleyball. In Soccer, penalties are done away with and, instead, taking out other players is encouraged, slide tackling or using energy projectile kicks to knock opponents off their feet. Rugby employs the Mario Kart boxes for power-ups, allowing the use of Bullet Bills, Blue Shells and Chaos Emeralds to throw explosions at ball carriers. Those lucky enough to grab the ball can run for rainbows, which then briefly turns them invincible, destroying anyone in their path. Duel Volleyball utilises the Mario Kart power-up boxes again, with Red Shells and Gun Beetles to fire across the court. These duel modes are great as they turn each event into more of what you would expect from a Mario game, rather than what would be expected from a generic sports party title.

One of the best aspects of this iteration is that it's not just a collection of mini-games. A thriving beach acts as a hub for all of the modes and features and at first the events are the only thing available in solo or multiplayer. After taking part in a number of these solo events, however, the Rio Olympics open up. Here a series of three matches for each event can be taken on to attempt to win a gold medal in that event. Acquiring more medals in the Olympics unlocks more features in the hub, and after a few are acquired, a shop to purchase items is unlocked, then a VS. arena with new game modes after a few more. This method continues until all the gold medals are collected, unlocking more and more modes and additions to the beach, like challenge-based Carnivals, knockout tournaments in Hero Showdown mode, and even an amiibo mode where particular amiibo can unlock special league stages. It's an aspect of game design that is rarely done well and it is done superbly here. There is a ton to unlock and it incentivises returning again and again.

Completionists out there will find a ton of unlockables to keep them coming back, too. The trademark coins of Mario and rings of Sonic are rewarded in droves to be used in an unlockable Gachapon machine, which can spit out stamps, clothes and hats for Mii characters, which greatly helps by giving stat increases - not to mention other player's Mii characters to meet to unlock event tip cards and country flags, along with special challenger characters to unlock for each event.

Screenshot for Mario & Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games on Wii U

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

For parties and families, this is a title definitely worth picking up and it does a great job in encouraging solo play, too. There's little new here, though, with most of the gameplay feeling old hat. Overall, Mario & Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games on Nintendo's Wii U is a decent addition to the series but lacking anything special to elevate it to that next level.

Developer

SEGA

Publisher

SEGA

Genre

Sport

Players

4

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date None   North America release date None   Japan release date None   Australian release date None    Also on Also on Nintendo eShop

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