Not able to make it to the Olympic Games? Nintendo’s got the fix.
In Mario & Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, kids get to hit the streets of Rio de Janeiro and train their way to the top of the Olympic podium. It’s rated E for everyone ages 10 and up and available now for the Nintendo 3DS family of systems. This virtual adventure allows kids to join Mario and Sonic—two of Nintendo’s most iconic characters—as they take on friends and family in a whopping 14 Olympic events.
When players first launch the game, they’ll be asked to choose their flag region and difficulty level, the latter of which can be changed at any time. The main menu lists all of the different game modes and options, including Rio 2016 Quick Play, Road to Rio, Versus, Pocket Marathon, Changing Room, and Records. The last two are just what you might guess, as they offer players the opportunity to adjust their Mii’s wardrobe and view their game stats. The others, especially Pocket Marathon, are a bit less transparent and so I will touch on them individually.
Rio 2016 Quick Play
In Rio 2016 Quick Play, kids can jump right into any of the 14 Olympic sports and go for gold. Events in Quick Play include football (soccer), golf, hurdles, long jump, javelin, swimming, archery, boxing, table tennis, beach volleyball, equestrian, BMX, and gymnastics. There’s no shortage of variety in this game, and all events are equally fun. But that’s not to say I didn’t have my favorites. In BMX, players must tap the “A” button as fast as possible to peddle their racer around a course filled with twists, turns, jumps, and speed boosters. It’s an exhilarating ride straight from the jump, and a great thumb workout win or lose. In Archery, kids move the 3DS system as they carefully aim and shoot three sets of three arrows. With a shot clock and changing winds, it’s not as easy as it seems. And in Javelin, players swipe the 3DS stylus across the lower screen as quickly as possible, and release it at the appropriate angle to send their javelin soaring through the air. It’s a simple concept, but I learned that it requires supreme precision and timing to beat fellow competitors. Quick tip: maximum stylus-swiping speed means nothing if you mistime your throw and run over the foul line. Despite my struggles, this quickly became my favorite Rio event. (I also enjoyed Golf and Golf Plus, but I shot a +18 over nine holes and couldn’t help but let my poor performance diminish my love for this game.)
Kids can also try their hand at Plus events, which are special versions of Olympic Quick Play events featuring Mario & Sonic game elements. In the BMX Plus Event for example, players are given the task of avoiding stacks of Goombas as they race their way around the course. In the Javelin Plus Event, players get to launch a handful of rainbow javelins one after the other, giving them the opportunity to perfect the requested swiping angle and record their best throw. Plus events were way more fun for me because they offered added challenges, surprises, and fantasy. Players can choose to play these Quick Play (and Quick Play Plus) events with a handful of different characters, and can quit at any time to explore a new sport or play with someone different. All events display World, Olympic, and players’ personal records on the screen. I thought this was a great way to show players how they stack up against the world’s best.
Road to Rio
Road to Rio is Nintendo’s original story mode, and it’s really enjoyable. After entering this mode, I was quickly dropped onto the streets of Rio and greeted by two young kids. One was sporting a Mario suit and the other was dressed as Sonic. The Mario supporter urged me to join Mario’s gym, and explained that the “Jumping Genius” would give me my best chance at reaching the top of the Olympic podium. The Sonic Supporter quickly intervened, crediting Sonic’s speed as the most important Olympic skill. I was then asked to join a side, and it gave me strong flashbacks of when I was required choose between Bulbasaur, Charmander, or Squirtle as my starter Pokemon way back in the day. That was such a stressful time in my life. After wiping the sweat from my forehead, I chose to kick it with Sonic and my campaign began. After, I was able to freely roam the streets of Brazil and talk to some townspeople. I even met Tails, Sonic’s best friend and head of the local gym, who informed me about training requirements, preliminary, and final Olympic rounds. Through training exercises, players will get to hone their skills in preparation for multiple rounds of all 14 Olympic events. Along the way, they’ll earn better outfits, gear, and other items from Yoshi’s shop. Pocket Marathon
Pocket Marathon is a great feature in this game, and an even greater use of the 3DS system. Using the built-in pedometer, kids can run or walk a virtual marathon around Brazil and earn special milestones and rewards that can be exchanged for outfits from Yoshi’s shop. And with daily bonus challenges that encourage kids to take a certain number of steps before time runs out, kids will be jumping off the couch before they’re even asked. I tested out the pedometer functionality myself by putting the system in sleep mode (that’s the only way it will count steps), and I found that it counted fairly accurately.
Mario & Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games will give kids a wonderful play experience. With Quick Play, kids can bounce around from sport to sport without a care in the world, while providing the perfect platform to perfect (tongue twister not intended) their skills at each of the events. Each game offers a different play experience by making kids use the buttons, the stylus, or the system’s gyroscope. And with Road to Rio, kids will enjoy some creative storytelling and the opportunity to progress at their own pace. And finally, in Versus, kids can play against as many as three friends using Local or Download play. There’s simply no shortage of variety when Mario and Sonic get together. The only thing left to ask is: which one of the two are you trying to kick it with?
Mario & Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games
is playable in both 2-D and 3-D and is compatible with amiibo figures.