With the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio set to kick off, Nintendo recently released the officially licensed accompanying title Mario & Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games for the Wii U as well as the Nintendo 3DS.

Mario and Sonic first teamed up for the 2008 Olympic games in this series and Nintendo has
sinced released mutiple variations of these Olympic event style games including a winter games title in 2010.

This year’s Rio version features 14 events in all, plus 3 Duel events. The events include Football (Soccer), Boxing, BMX, Table Tennis, Beach Volleyball, 100m Freestyle Swimming and even The Rugby Sevens is making its Summer Olympics debut!

rio 2016 menu
The sandy beach of Rio double as the games open world menu which makes for a refreshing new way to navigate.

Upon first loading up the game, players will be hit with a series of pop-up tutorial style windows helping users navigate around the game, explaining how to join the different type of events and game modes. For me personally it was a welcome feature as I am brand new to the Wii U, but experienced players may just happen to try to skip through all of these which makes these pop-ups a bit cumbersome.

Instead of starting the game out in a menu, the game actually puts you right on the beach in Rio in somewhat of a free roaming open world setting surrounded by many familiar Mario cast members.

Each one will give you tips on how to navigate and join events when you approach
them. The world also opens up as you play the game, unlocking new events and personalities to square off against. This is definitely a fresh approach and I enjoyed the splash screen setting quite a bit.

rio 2016 beach volleyball
Individual events as well as team sports like Beach Volleyball are a ton of fun especially when playing with others in a local multiplayer setting.

The more events you play, the more items and events you will be able to unlock which
really adds a lot of depth to the game. For example, after you have taken part in a few solo
events, you are now able to join tournaments which are a ton of fun.

These tournaments vary in difficulty, and you can actually improve your skills with optional clothing which can be unlocked. This type of customization and unlockability make Rio quite addicting and keeps you coming back for more.

All the different sports were pretty fun to compete in, but the events which really stood out to me in particular were Soccer, Table Tennis, BMX, Boxing and Rugby Sevens. As a somewhat serious sports gamer, the game surprised me with its differentiating character stats and ability to change strategies and formations.

rugby duel mode
Three “Duel” modes are available including the Rugby Sevens which give you an alternate setting as well as over the top power-ups.

The stats actually make sense as well. For example, giving larger characters like Donkey Kong much higher strength, tackle and kick power ratings, while smaller characters like Sonic benefit from increased speed and dribbling ratings.

The gameplay varies from event to event, but felt really solid in most cases. The AI can be wonky at times, but definitely not to the point where the game loses its joy. Football (Soccer), Beach Volleyball, and Rugby also have a “Duel” mode with over the top venues and power ups, making the games even more of a blast, especially in a local party (couch mode) setting.

Additionally Rio features a “Heroes Showdown” mode in which you can go head to head by choosing either Team Mario or Team Sonic. Each team is compiled of multiple characters who get eliminated one by one by defeating them in the various events.

rio 2016 soccer
One of the most addicting events for me was Football (Soccer). Very solid gameplay coupled with surprisingly deep strategy settings make this a stand out mode

Another positive to point out here is that this was the very first sports game I have gotten to
enjoy with my entire family including my 4 year old son. Modern sports titles can be complex
and oftentimes the learning curve is very steep, making them virtually unplayable for young kids.
Mario & Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games makes it very easy for the entire family to jump in, pick up a controller and play no matter your gaming skillset. A splash screen explaining the control layout is displayed before each event to help get used to the control scheme as well.

The game supports 4 player local multiplayer and online leaderboards, although online
multiplayer is missing.

rio 2016 rugby
Rugby Sevens makes it’s olympic sport debut in Rio and it does not disappoint.

All in all I really enjoyed Mario & Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games for what it is. Nintendo blends competetive sports with silly over the top animations in an “arcady” fun for all sports experience. The game is surprisingly deep with its plentiful unlockables and the events themselves are an absolute BLAST, especially when played in local multiplayer.

Final Score: 7.8/10 (Good/Recommended)