Though they’ve never been especially good games, I’ve always had a soft spot for the Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games videogames. They’ve allowed me to live out my once impossible childhood dreams of having games featuring the mascots from both camps – something that’s only become possible with SEGA’s demise as a purveyor of gaming consoles.
They’re a both cheap thrill and a sober reminder of just how fickle the industry can be. They’ve always been fun and somewhat engaging collections of minigames centred on a variety of different sports, and have become popular enough to spawn an entire franchise; the thing is now a biennial staple to celebrate both the Summer and Winter games.
Set in the carnival atmosphere of Rio de Janeiro, Mario & Sonic Rio 2016 Olympic Games is colourful and vibrant, with a delightful samba soundtrack that keeps it cheerful – but unfortunately, that’s about all it’s got going for it.
When I initially started the game up, I was pleasantly surprised – the game seemed to have a slick level of polish I wasn’t expecting, but that surprise was fleeting and misplaced. Upon opening the game, players are welcomed and instructed to select their Mii, and which nation they’d like to represent. South Africa’s flag is included, so I naturally did my patriotic duty and chose to go for gold wearing green and gold.
There are four main modes in which to compete: Quick Play, Road to Rio, Versus Mode, and Pocket Marathon. In this for the long haul, I chose the Road to Rio, and set off to become a sporting legend. After a brief introduction, you’re welcomed by a pair of costumed characters representing rival gyms and the training facilities of Team Mario and Team Sonic. Choose one, and you’re locked in to a story mode centred on either mascot. The mode has a Pokemon-esque overworld map, littered with locations for you to train up by competing in various minigames.