Nippon Marathon review

Takeshi’s Castle meets Total Wipe out, but is the marathon worth entering?

I’m all for wacky original ideas, or a new creative take on an existing idea. I’m a firm believer you shouldn’t be afraid to take risks in life, and I adore develops that brave those risks, it’s where the fantastic cult classics are usually born.

The far east is usually known for there eccentric, wacky concepts, and the wonderfully named Onion Soup Interactive have developed what can only be described as a hugely brave, if not slightly odd, bold concept, heavily influenced by Japanese customs and culture.

The Game is set around a marathon event, Nippon Marathon.

Nippon Marathon is an annual event in which anyone can enter, and only the very best qualify for the later rounds for the chance to break Handsome Hazuki’s ten year title reign as the winner of the Marathon.

Nippon Marathon is heavily influenced by the Japanese Takeshi’s castle. So put on your favourite outfit, grab those running shoes, and get ready to enter the only event that matter’s in Japanese folk lore, you will have to brave the streets of japan, run through malls and restaurants, jump over obstacles, avoid the cars and cyclists as they swerve towards you, out run animals, whilst picking up power ups which heavily influence the race. Time them right and you might just come out on top.

The game comes alive with its hugely wacky idea, comprising of bright colours, anime style character’s with entertaining names, mixed with Japanese culture, Tv style reporting and presentation multiplayer obstacle course race’s. However, that’s not to say that you can’t indulge in a bit of single player action.

Nippon Marathon is split in to several game modes, Story mode, versus mode and party games

In Nippon’s Story mode you chose to play the role of a character from a selection of 4, each with there own unique story as to why they are competing in this year’s marathon. The characters are wonderfully created using an anime style, and have their own personalities, and very odd style of dress sense.

You travel across Japan’s vast lands as you play through a series of events along the way to trying to topple Handsome Hazuki’s grip on the title.

Each event comprises of 5 rounds of racing, each race is unique to its setting. The race’s are based on a 3d top down style obstacle course, with jumps, spring boards, cyclists and cars coming at you, rolling barrels, dogs, and monkey’s attacking you, even American football players, trying to block you as you race towards the end, but be careful as you try to run through that paper door, you may encounter a brick or two.

Players are eliminated by falling behind, so keep your eyes on the prize, as you try to keep striding forward.

Before the start of a race, or at the very end of some rounds you may get to meet Wedy Jones, a reporter for NNBC (NNBC is the TV broadcaster covering the Marathon). Wedy plays an important role in the outcome of the events taking place, as the scoring system is just as wacky as the game itself.

Wedy will ask you round questions, which are often quite pointless, but form the bases of a phrase. Popularity is key, so do your best to come up with an answer that is suitably intriguing to the public, as in The Nippon Marathon the winner of the event is the competitor with the highest overall score. The score is calculated, via your placing in races, popularity, stars obtained and some highly amusing features such as, most smelliest, most bitten, and most air born, among many others.

In Versus mode is where the game comes into its own, as you compete with up to 3 more fellow players local, and take part in your own Nippon Marathon, this can comprise from a single event, a half Marathon or even the Full Nippon Marathon experience. Who will take home the prize of grand champion, it’s over to you.

Party Game mode is split into two games, L.O.B.S.T.E.R or GO GO Trolley. L.O.B.S.T.E.R is a game played with friends using a single controller. It’s a game where the winner is based on how far they get through an obstacle course, Total wipe out style.

GO GO Trolley, is a unique bowling event based over four rounds of classic bowling scoring, however there’s nothing classic about getting up a head of steam and trying to launch yourself into a giant shopping cart and then into the Giant bowling pins, as you try to get that strike.

Nippon Marathon has some interesting re-playability features too, what with Wedy’s Travel guide, where you have to collect pages which are unlocked for different obtaining goals in story mode. Then there’s Nippon Marathon’s store, which is where you can unlock new characters for use in the party game mode selection, and versus features.

Overall the game’s idea is excellent, and would normally mean fun, however the game is rather sluggish in parts, there’s to much going on screen, to keep track of your objective and character. Sometimes the character is off the screen, yet in the race, other times, your penalised by the stutter’s in the game engine as you constantly fall over the same object repeatedly.

The story has no depth, and to be honest, it’s rather boring. The actual mode could have been fun if the story was more meaningful so that you could engage with it. Fewer cut scenes would have helped too. Had the developers focused on the tv style studio presenting, with the strange interviews and built on that, they could have had a fun single player experience.

Multiplayer is fun and the party mode is a cool idea, but with just two games, I feel the developers dropped the ball. If they had produced the game on this mode and used their wacky Takeshi’s Castle style concept and added online multiplayer, this could have been a cult classic.

CX Score
  • 40%
    Overall - 40%
40%

Summary

Pros

  • Concept
  • Local play fun

Cons

  • Sluggish
  • Cluttered screen
  • Story Mode not fun

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