Title: Nippon Marathon Genre: Party, Multiplayer, Action, Racing
Mode: Single Player or up to 8 players via couch co-op Developer: Onion Soup Interactive Publisher: PQube Platforms: PC, Switch (reviewed), Xbox One, PS4
Initial release date: Dec 17, 2018
Nippon Marathon can best be described as a Japanese TV game show with a hint of a constant runner and a whole lot of craziness. Seriously, this game is insane. When you first start out Nippon Marathon, you aren’t sure what you are about to get yourself into. Even after playing it for a few hours, you still aren’t sure what you got yourself into. It’s crazy, frantic, and just silly mayhem, and with the right crowd, really can be a lot of fun.
The Tip and The Top
Nippon Marathon features several different modes: single player story mode, race mode (either single player or multiplayer) or mini games which can be played with friends via couch co op.
The game pits you and three other contestants in a race, but it’s not a normal race. As you race through crowded streets, you’ll be attacked by dogs, chased by cars, attacked by crazy people on bikes, it is mass hysteria. Each race offers different scenery, for instance you might be running in an area where there are sushi restaurants in your path. What do you do? Well you run through the restaurants of course.
Another level might have you run in the streets while an earthquake hits and buildings around you fall apart. One minute there might be ground beneath you, the next, the bridge that you are on is gone.
You also find weapons in the race that you can use against your opponents; Some of these weapons include a watermelon you can throw at them to trip them up, a mushroom that causes some sort of gas that slows them down, and a pineapple that acts like a balloon. The weapons appear on the screen via a box (similar to Mario Kart) in which the objects spin and you get whatever appears in the box when you run into it.
You and your opponents will race until one of you have either reached a checkpoint, or all your opponents have fallen down a hole or down a cliff. If you come in first place at the end of that particular section you gain a star. If you don’t, you lose a star (or possibly more depending on how badly you lost).
You also gain popularity in the race by doing crazy things like running into mascots or doing amazing jumps. You can lose popularity in the race too, by being attacked by dogs or running into spectators. Popularity is important because at the end of the race, your popularity is added into your final score. The winner of the race is determined by how many stars you have and your overall popularity. The person with the highest score wins.
The game also offers mini games as well, like shopping cart bowling, where you line up a shopping cart on a bowling alley and then you take your character and jump into the cart, causing the cart to go careening down the alley to the pins.
The game does offer some fun moments and you and your friends will find yourself laughing at some of the crazy things that happen in this game. However, the game strong points are overshadowed by the weak points in the game.
The Flip and The Flop
Nippon Marathon is majorly chaotic and a lot of things could happen on the screen all at once, which can cause some major slowdown. You might be in first place, hit some lag, and suddenly you are in last place. This is extremely annoying, and while you could chalk it up to just part of the craziness of the game, it really shouldn’t happen.
At times, the game can feel broken. For instance, in the bowling game, you might knock down eight pins but it only gives you credit for seven. At times it says you threw a strike, but there is still a pin left.
It is not apparently inherent to understand where you are supposed to go in the race and if you are in the lead, this can be particularly frustrating, especially since the camera pans where you are supposed to go in the race. When this happens you’ll find it is impossible to find your character on the screen as your character went one way, but the camera went another.
At other times you’ll come across a jump that seems impossible to make and when you see that the AI cannot make the jump as well, you feel like there is just something unfair. While these can be frustrating, in a way these moments do add to the wild and crazy ride that this game offers.
In regards to the story, the story mode is too much story, and not enough racing. You might come across three or four story segments where you sit and read a lot of dialog. The best part of this game is running in the crazy races, and the story in between each one of the races breaks up the game too much and takes you out of the game.
This game won’t be for everyone; It is very surreal and very strange, and if you don’t like wacky weird games, or if you are not very forgiving for some of the issues the game has, then, this game won't be for you.
However, if you are willing to try something different and have friends who are open to playing a chaotic racing game, then this might be something worth your time. While there is a story mode, this game was meant to be played with friends, and with the right group of friends you’ll find yourself laughing hysterically at the craziness that is Nippon Marathon.
Review Code Provided By PQube