Trouble in Rio

The Olympic Games in Rio are off to a shaky start. With rampant crime and poor infrastructure, athletes are pulling out as buildings fall apart from the inside. It seems the city just isn’t ready. Amidst all this mediocrity, it’s only fitting for Sonic the Hedgehog to make an appearance. Despite not being part of a nation, having no fans, and no currently-active coach, Sonic has shown up to lower the standards for everyone and make the Olympic mascots themselves look well-designed. The failed furry has threatened the games with their biggest downgrade yet, but Mario is not happy about this. As an avid sports fan, Mario and his crew have also come to Rio to make sure things go well. In the interest of safety, I had to check out the demo for Mario & Sonic on the Wii U eShop and gather some impressions.

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The demo is quite meaty, with a playable sample of Rugby, Soccer, Volleyball and Swimming. Immediately upon starting the game, the high production values become evident. The menus are very sharp and snazzy and the graphics are outstanding, with a very high quality to the character models on the level of something actually good like Super Mario 3D World. The animations are also really well done, and the crowd feels really alive and excited in the background of each game. Volleyball in particular is an absolute party, with Toads, Koopas and Shy Guys going crazy and dancers on the sidelines having a great time. The gameplay in Volleyball is very simple however and I also found it stupidly easy to score. Using Donkey Kong might have given me an unfair advantage. Every time I got the ball I pressed A to hit the ball up for a spike, then B for an instant win. You can pick up items and fire them across the net too which is hilariously effective. If you can spray a fire flower it’s basically an instant win on the next point. It’s really funny to see an item just go through the net, like you’re cheating.

Not much to say about Swimming, it’s a button masher with a stamina meter. It’s the kind of game that pretty much requires multiplayer to be fun, but the controls work consistently. The graphics were incredible too. Rugby is a game I was really excited to play, but it didn’t turn out that good either. The “scrum” could have been an interesting gameplay mechanic, but all you do is mash the A button to get the ball on your side. Aside from that you just kick and pass the ball, with no real way to aim. Very, very basic.

Soccer is where I had the most fun, I’d describe it as a more simplistic, fun version of Fifa. Press B to pass, A to shoot, and L to cycle through players. Usual rules apply and it’s a 4 on 4, which works surprisingly well. It basically cuts out all the bullshit back-and-forth passing in serious soccer and allows you to take more shots. There’s no real way to aim the ball just like Rugby, you have to hold the button in a good spot and hope. This game mechanic has somehow been the basis of 25 years worth of Fifa games. I don’t know how they got away with that, but at least it’s not broken. Games only last a few minutes but I played this mode for an hour because it was just relaxing and comfy, and reminded me of when I used to play the Fifa demo over and over as a kid.

My biggest tip for Soccer is do not score with Sonic. I picked him for my Soccer team and I was immediately flooded with regret when he scored a goal. His YEEAAAHAHH GOOOOAAALL sound effect is one of the worst things I’ve heard in my life. It is way too high-pitched for the voice actor who had to force that out. It sounds like someone is holding their throat as their voice tries to escape but can’t. Maybe this was the moment Sonic realised what he had done with his life. Decades of shitty games flashed before his eyes as the ball hit the net.

As it turns out, the Rio games themselves are quite fun and Mario & Sonic have delivered a decent package for sports fans. I probably won’t buy this but I think any casual gamer picking this up would get their money’s worth from Soccer alone. Of course there’s a ton of sports not in the demo that could potentially be good. Good controls, graphics and presentation are consistent in every Mario & Sonic game I’ve played so there’s no reason to doubt this package.

riogamesIt’s not known whether Mario & Sonic are sharing the same hotel, but everyone seems to be having fun. Donkey Kong was spotted doing a roll jump off a diving board, and onlookers report that music started playing as he hit the water.

It was surreal, an aquatic ambience covered the whole stadium. I’ve never heard that kind of quality from Sonic before.” remarked a stunned Amy by the pool. Donkey Kong shot out of the water, arms first, then hit the ground with pixel-perfect precision, and roll jumped out the window.

With the Rio games now on track, Mario is currently the favourite to win every gold. When interviewed, Sonic called Mario a “tryhard” and criticised his consistent quality. Mario was too busy winning another gold to respond, and Donkey Kong is currently missing. Tune in for more shenanigans in the full version of Mario & Sonic at Rio 2016 Olympic Games on Wii U.

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