PLOT Mario, Sonic and friends go for the gold in Rio.
RATING E 10+ for Everyone age 10 and older
DETAILS Wii U, Nintendo 3DS; $59.99
BOTTOM LINE A silver medal.
The Summer Olympics may be over, but not for Mario and Sonic. In the new release Mario & Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, players can tackle 14 events that are unlocked from the outset.
The Mario & Sonic versions of the 100-meter dash, 4 x 100 relay, javelin throw and triple jump require players to mash buttons while building up speed and timing skills.
Events such as BMX, equestrian racing and swimming require players to manage their character’s stamina. Each must devise a strategy about when to push their advantage and when to store up energy for later.
Archery, boxing and table tennis are the most intuitive competitions for gamers. Developers at Sega boiled down the skills for firing an arrow to a few button presses. Players can either take time to aim carefully at the bull’s-eye, or shoot quickly and hope for the best. Skilled players have no problem firing from the hip.
Boxing is a simplistic fighting game, while table tennis is one of response and positioning. Though both are clunky, they work.
The oddest of the bunch is gymnastics, which relies on Guitar Hero-esque button presses, while each player’s character performs a floor routine. Even if the game design doesn’t accurately reflect the sport, it can be fun.
Football, rugby and beach volleyball are squad-based games that work well with four players. Each reinforces the teamwork concept as the individual players cooperate to score a goal or set up a fierce spike.
The strength of Mario & Sonic is as a party game, and the fun factor increases exponentially when four players are racing one another to a finish line or knocking out one another in the ring.
Despite some flaws, the new Mario & Sonic offers a taste of Rio without any of the possible real-life downsides.