GamingReview: Mario & Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic...

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


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With the 2016 Rio Olympic Games starting this Summer it’s only natural that a new entry in the Mario & Sonic sports franchise is also out around the same time. Although the Nintendo 3DS version of Mario & Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games has been out for a few weeks, the Nintendo Wii U version has only recently been released.

Given the various hardware specification differences between both systems, it is not difficult to imagine of ways that the title can benefit from being on the Nintendo Wii U. The most obvious of all being how it looks in comparison to the handheld version. The character models are a lot more detailed and it is possible to get a better feel of the surrounding area each of the events takes place in. Although the Copacabana beach hub area feels somewhat confined on the Nintendo Wii U version. There isn’t a lot to see and the same hub is used to access all Olympic events and other modes. The only minor change being that the area opens up a bit more after gaining a certain amount of progress. Regardless, it’s certainly not the best looking title in the system and it never feels like it is making the most out of the hardware that it’s on compared to first party Nintendo titles.

Perhaps as a way to get players to learn without resorting to a typical tutorial, it is necessary to complete a few single events, before it is possible to participate in the Olympic Games. The events themselves are usually straight forward in terms of controls. Most of the running events come down to just mashing buttons as quickly as possible. Although this doesn’t make the events any less enjoyable given that the AI controller characters seem more challenging compared to the AI on the Nintendo 3DS version of the title. Obviously the simpler activities, such as running events, means that it isn’t overly difficult to defeat the AI opponents. However, other events that require more skill like table tennis do a better job of making players feel like they are being given a worthy challenge.

Mario & Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games

Not that every event works as expected and in a cruel twist it’s mostly the ones exclusive to the Nintendo Wii U version of the title that don’t work quite so well in practice. Despite the simple controls, it feels like playing events such as football and rugby tends to involve luck more than actual skill. In a way, these are watered down versions of well established sports franchises and even so very poor imitations. It’s a shame since it means that playing these events somewhat ruins the experience, since the other events typically associated with the Olympic Games do a competent job.

As expected, Olympic Games events consist of participating in elimination rounds until a winner is found in the final round. Doing well enough in Olympic tournaments tends to result in being challenged by a character from a Super Mario/Sonic franchise title after winning the final round. Beating this rather challenging special event after results in the character becoming playable for the single event mode that the character is associated with. For example, it is possible to use Rosalina for Gymnastics after beating her. It’s actually a nice touch for the development team to use media assets associated with these characters when playing their challenge events. It’s worth noting that the constant loading screens that pop up when even just going into a selection screen for one of the modes can be a nuisance.

Perhaps as an incentive to make use of the in-game currency and outfits system, it is only possible to use the Mii characters in Olympic Games events. Currency earned by winning events is used to buy clothing items that increase different statistics, such as the speed of the character. It’s clear that the idea is to use specific clothing items to increase statistics that will make it easier to win each event. However, it never felt necessary to do so in order to get through the different events. Oddly enough, buying one or more items from the shop will result in being given a randomly selected item. Currency is also used to skip the current list of Olympic Games events, since only one out of three can be picked at a time. A strange design decision if players don’t have enough currency to use, since the only way to then change events is to to play and lose when playing one of the elimination rounds.

Mario & Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games

Although there isn’t much to see in terms of exploration, at least there are various random NPCs to be found on the beach section of the hub area, that dish out different facts about each of the participating countries. Did you know that Jasmine is the national flower of Pakistan? Well, now you do. They even use it to for tea. If anything, at least Sega and Nintendo can state that players will learn more about other countries and their traditions.

Win enough Olympic Games events to unlock the Heroes Showdown mode. It consists of two teams competing and the winning team is the one that has the most characters left by the end of a set of randomly selected events. Losing an event means losing a character. Winning means being able to use powers. Such powers include eliminating a number of rivals, powering up characters and so on. It’s actually quite interesting and it can be played against another human player. It essentially feels like playing a very simple board-game. It’s definitely one of the more interesting features in this version of the title.

It’s possible to play some events in a duel mode which is a tad confusing given what is going on the screen. Basically, points are accumulated by hitting rivals with the aid of items and performing certain actions. The team that scores a point will then earn any points that it managed to accumulate. Accumulated points are reset for both teams when one of them scores. It makes it difficult to know what is going on and focus on the actual event’s main goal – like hitting the ball in volleyball for example. Although it is nice to see fantasy elements in some of the events.

Mario & Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games

Amiibo enthusiasts will like to know that special tournaments are unlocked by using them, after completing a certain number of Olympic Games events. As expected the title supports local play for pretty much every event and even gives two players the opportunity to participate in the Olympics Games and help each other out.

Although it looks much better when compared to the Nintendo 3DS version, it doesn’t fare so well in terms of how it’s played. The lack of a proper story mode is somewhat disappointing considering how it makes the Nintendo 3DS version so much more interesting to play. Despite its vibrant visuals and cheery nature, it is safe to say that this title is not one that will particularly offer a memorable experience and given the content available, there are much better local multiplayer titles available on the system.


+ Huge selection of events to choose from.
- Exclusive events for this version don't work so well in practice.
- Story mode is not very appealing and there isn't much to do in the hub area.

(Reviewed on Nintendo Wii U, also available on Nintendo 3DS)

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+ Huge selection of events to choose from.</br> - Exclusive events for this version don't work so well in practice.</br> - Story mode is not very appealing and there isn't much to do in the hub area.</br> </br> (Reviewed on Nintendo Wii U, also available on Nintendo 3DS) Review: Mario & Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games (Nintendo Wii U)