Thu. Jul 18th, 2024

[Review] Nippon Marathon – Nintendo Switch

Nippon Marathon
Nintendo Switch

Developed By: Onion Soup Interactive
Published By: Pqube
Category: Multiplayer, Party, Action, Racing
Release Date: 12.17.18

Land of the Rising Sun

The Entertainment Industry has a lot to thank the Japanese for: Anime, Manga, Square Enix, and Takeshi’s Castle to name a few. Now although not produced in Japan, Onion Soup Interactive have taken many an inspiration from the Land of the Rising Sun with Nippon Marathon and it is yet another reason to thank the Japanese for all things pop culture.

Published by Pqube, Nippon Marathon is a multiplayer party game with action and racing elements. Best described as a mash-up of Micro Machines and Mario Kart, Nippon Marathon puts a very unique twist on the racing genre with participants competing in a marathon across a variety of stages. Along the way, you are faced with obstacles, hurdles, and funky bonus games to compete for popularity and that coveted first place prize. Within each stage, you race with three other competitors to be first, and anyone who is left too far behind has stars taken away from their tally.

Stretch your muscles and embark upon the ultimate marathon of Japan in a crazy party racer! Hurdle barrels, outrun Shiba Inu and dive out of the paths of bicycles – all while throwing fruit at your opponents and dashing across planks precariously balanced over waterfalls in an unreal marathon across the whole of Japan!

Good humor and competition

There are three unique game modes on offer in Nippon Marathon, and each provides its fair share of good humor and competition. The first is the Story mode, which the Nintendo eShop describes as ‘an expansive story mode with a bizarre cast of characters!’

Climb the ranks from rookie runner to marathon master. Experience the stories of lobster-man J DARWIN, narwhal enthusiast Elizabeth Nishibori, old uncle sailor Zenbei “XEN BAE” and wannabe dating-agency owner Snuguru Maestro, all while revealing the shady secrets of the unseen forces at play behind the Nippon Marathon. Can you beat the returning ten-time champion Handsome Hazuki and his cronies?

You are introduced to four main characters who each have their own story to be told through excellent script-writing and imaginative cutscenes. Although advertised as a party game, there is a lot of fun to be had here and there was many a time that I found myself laughing out loud – a recurring theme of my time with Nippon Marathon. The stories and the characters themselves are bizarre, and this may not suit all. Nippon Marathon does not take itself seriously at all, and for me personally, I feel that it is a major part of its charm. It presents you with bizarre courses from across Japan, fills them with everything from dogs to shopping trolleys and cyclists, and asks you to navigate your way through it all whilst also utilizing the pick-ups at your disposal to use on your competitors.

Favourite gaming moments of 2018
The second mode, similar in design to the story mode, is ‘Versus.’ Here, you can compete against three other CPUs or up to three other players on the same Switch in a single event, half marathon or a full one. These play out exactly as you would expect, and again provided a lot of fun for me and my friends. The sheer hilarity here offered some of my favorite gaming moments of 2018, and with good reason. The gameplay mechanics are perfectly suited to the races and the environments, with the rag-doll physics making every interaction between the character and the objects an opportunity for disaster.

‘Party Games’ is the final game mode, and introduces you to two funky and unusual games. The first, ‘L.O.B.S.T.E.R,’ reminded me of Tony Hawk multiplayer where you had to set the best score in one run and then see if your partner could beat it. Here, there is an assault course brimming with obstacles and you have to make it as far as you can along it. Whoever makes it the least amount of distance gets one of the letters until the loser spells out lobster. The second is a unique take on ten-pin bowling, only using a shopping cart instead of a bowling ball. Once you have positioned your trolley, you take a running jump at said trolley and make your way down the ramp towards the bowling pins. Personally, I believe both have a short lifespan when compared to the main event, the marathon, however they are a good bit of fun for a short while with friends.

Some people like bird watching. Some people like a lazy Sunday afternoon drive. Some people like to throw themselves into a trolley, and smash head-first into man-sized bowling pins! Set your shopping trolley’s position, take a running jump, wince as you hurtle towards random hazards and pray you don’t end up in the emergency room. Mastered the Turkey in bowling? Then take on the L.O.B.S.T.E.R gauntlet! A precariously narrow, randomly generated assault course. Swinging hammers, pneumatic boxing gloves, and irate American footballers conspire to knock you into the drink!

During my time with Nippon Marathon, I found very little to fault it for. It is a blast from start to finish, be it playing alone or with a group of friends. It offers such an original take on the party game genre and its creativity is a joy to behold. There was the occasional issue with the AI, with some seemingly running around in circles, however this was not to the detriment of the game as it actually added to the unpredictable nature and belly laughs that Nippon Marathon provides. 

Replayable, humorous and inventive

With its unusual offering and even more unusual name, I fear Nippon Marathon may not get the attention it deserves. Whilst predominantly a party game, the fact that Nippon provides an extensive story mode that is just as much fun is a true credit to Onion Soup Interactive. I throughly enjoyed my time with the game and it certainly rivals any other party game that I have played with my gaming friends before. Replayable, humorous and inventive, Nippon Marathon is well worthy of the storage space on your Nintendo Switch!


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