Crazily, next year will bring back the excitement of the Olympics, following the brilliance of London 2012, which means that the Nintendo team will be back on the search for glory with Mario & Sonic At The Rio 2016 Olympic Games. It might only feel like yesterday when you last blitzed around the Olympic stadium with Mario, your arms flying in a blur of Wii controller, nunchuck and connecting cable, but it’s time to dust of the tracks shorts once again for the next installment in the Mario & Sonic series.
Developed once again by Sega and published by Nintendo, Rio will be the fifth title from the series, continuing the modern day corporate truss between the two gaming powerhouses, following their intense rivalry of during the 80s and 90s. While there is as ever a team Sonic and a team Mario the games see things mixed up quite a lot with every character for themselves for most of the time.
Mario & Sonic At The Rio 2016 Olympic Games will be making its way to both the Wii U and the Nintendo 3DS with a release date of the first half of 2016. With the Olympic Games being held in Rio next summer, and the fact that Mario & Sonic At The London 2012 Olympic Games was released in November 2011, we’re expecting the release date to be earlier rather than later, with Easter 2016 the most likely contender.
On the team Mario side of the Sega / Nintendo divide, characters will include the mustachioed plumber himself, along with his brother Luigi, Princess Peach, Yoshi, Bowser and his son Bowser Jr. (they never did release maternity details… Peach? Daisy? You decide) and Donkey Kong. New character additions include Diddy Kong and the Toad-rustling Nabbit.
On team Sonic you’ve got the blue streak of lightning, Tales, Shadow, Silver, Doctor Eggman (Robotnik for 90s child UK born gamers out there) and Knuckles. Sega will also introduce two new playable characters to the series in Rio with Rouge the Bat, who first appeared in Sonic Adventures 2 and went on to star in Team Eggman in Mario & Sonic At The Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games, and also Jet The Hawk of Sonic Riders fame.
The gameplay is much like that of its predecessors, with a range of Olympic events for all of the team Mario and team Sonic to compete in. You’ll still use the Wii Remote MotionPlus and Nunchuk controllers, but as was the case with Sochi, you’ll also get to use the Wii U GamePad for some of the events.
Dream events will be back in the mix, giving you even more mind-bending Mario and Sonic twists on the concept of Olympic competition. Events will include football, the usual track & field, swimming, table tennis, gymnastics, archery, boxing and beach volleyball.
One of the most exciting new additions to the roster for the real games is Rugby Union and you can see them giving it a bash in the trailer below. The concept of Donkey Kong jumping for a line-out or scoring a try is genius and it’s going to be a lot of family fun in and among all of the other great events in the game. Check out Mario tackling Sonic in the image above to see the potential of the new addition.
It will also give you the first opportunity to play the full Olympic events online, building on the move in the right direction that was made when it was introduced in Mario & Sonic At The Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games. While this will definitely need to improve on the previous game, it should help to add even more longevity to it, making it a go-to game night title for a fair few years.
Graphically, Mario & Sonic At The Rio 2016 Olympic Games is cute in the extreme, as you’d expect, but it’s also well rounded, incredibly colourful and non without its moments of fast paced action. It’s not going to win any awards for the most detailed graphics on the market, but then that’s not really what the game is about. It does, however, do exactly what it needs to do, which is taking the game up a notch without losing the much-loved characterisation of Mario, Sonic and pals.
We’re always big fans of the Mario & Sonic series of games and Rio should do well to live up to the standards of the previous games. It doesn’t look like it’s going to do too much different from the previous games, apart from all of the new events, but outside it’s the first summer Olympics game made for the Nintendo Wii U, so it should be the most advanced title in the series. Hopefully, Nintendo manage to cram in a few last minute surprises before the release date in 2016 to make it something to really look forward to.