Nippon Marathon Switch Review by SwitchWatch

Developer: Onion Soup Interactive

Publisher: PQube

Release Date: Out Now

Price as of Article: $14.99 USD, £11.99 GBP

Game code provided by PQube

Story

Story mode consists of a bizarre cast of characters as they climb the ranks, from rookie to master runner in the Nippon Marathon. Each quirky character participates in a marathon like no other… while a shady organisation watches over the proceedings and unseen forces wait around every corner.

Can are heroes beat the forces of evil and win the Nippon Marathon? Can you beat the returning champion, the legendary Handsome Hazuki.

Gameplay

This game has got to be one of the weirdest, most wonderful creations I’ve ever played – a marathon game where four players race across 8 tracks around some seriously crazy hazards, aiming to be the top dog.

You can use weapons, Mario Kart-style, and jump or throw yourself around with hilarious rag-doll physics. Not only fun in single player, but just as crazy in multiplayer mode. With a wealth of other crazy side attractions, you’ve got plenty to do!

Story for all!

Story mode follows 4 characters: J Darwin the lobster kid; Elizabeth Nishibori the narwhal girl; Zenbei, an old man who thinks he’s Japanese girl; and my favourite character, Snuguru Maestro, the half man, half dog.

The game has a very quirky personality with its weird gameshow narration, making it quite enjoyable to play through.

It’s a great inclusion to have 4 unique storyline to play through as it adds a lot of replay value to the package.

Nippon Marathon Screenshot 4

Versus mode!

There’s a lot of other modes to play in Nippon Marathon which give you a lot of bang for your buck!

Versus mode has 4 options that you can play in. The mode can be played by yourself or in multiplayer, and can be either be single race, half marathon, or full marathon which will take you through every race track.

Let’s party!

Not only can you play in standard marathon and full marathons in versus mode, you can also play the rather hilarious party mode. This is one of my favourite modes, as the games that are included here are really fun and remind me of Takeshi’s Castle, a popular Japanese game show.

First game is called – L.O.B.S.T.E.R. Here, the main goal is to get as far as you can without falling into the water. Just like Takeshi’s Castle, there are a ton of hazards that will get in your way and try and stop you dead in your tracks.

The quirky TV host wears a strange mask and has the ability to change up the track layout with a random spin of a wooden wheel in between rounds to spice up each run. It’s a lot fun in both single and multiplayer, and it’s a great party title to get friends around for few drinks and laughs.

Each player takes turns to get as far as they can. If they fall, a marker is placed on the track, showing how far the last person was able to get to. The competitive element will definitely break friendships, but I’ll guarantee a lot of laughs!

Next game in party collection is the bowling game called GO-GO-TROLLEY which is as crazy as it sounds. Instead of a normal ten-pin bowling, you’re throwing shopping trolleys down a slope, with you providing the momentum.

It’s so fun seeing your character crash into pins, flying all about. This mode can be played in single or in multiplayer – adding real friends into the mix is a recipe for chaos! But I also enjoyed playing all the modes in single player too, as it’s just as fun by yourself, but adding in other players (locally) can ramp up the enjoyment factor 10-fold.

Nippon Marathon Screenshot 3

Anything Else?

There’s a tutorial that can get you up to speed on what needs to be done. There is also an in-game shop where you can buy 4 extra characters and 3 extra modes to spice up your games.

Money can be earned as you play any mode in the game. It won’t be too hard to rack up money, especially as you win races in story, or play in either versus or party modes.

There is also an extra travel guide that gives you more information on the characters, locations, and story. Its pages can be found as you play the story. There are 23 pages to be found, so replaying the game to collect them all can keep you occupied.

Takeshi’s RUN!

Gameplay in Nippon Marathon is crazy and your race will consist of some bizarre feats and experiences as you head for the finish line. Each race takes place on 8 crazy tracks across Japan, each containing a boat-load of hazards, like falling melons, buzz-saws, cars, and heaps of different types of obstacles for you to climb over or duck under, lots of pedestrians going about their daily lives, and even killer dogs, just mention a few.

When the race begins, you have a few moves at your disposal. You can jump with the B button, and if you press the Y button while in the air, you can throw yourself over large gaps. You can also duck under low hanging obstacles with the A button, and of course, move with the left analog stick.

Power-ups!

You can also use power ups, like banana peels, melons, and poison mushrooms with the ZR and ZL triggers. Each power-up has its own mechanic. For example, the banana peel makes anyone who step on it slip over. However, there are other powers, like the pineapple balloon, that can let you float over obstacles, and a poison mushroom that can make anyone behind you cough and splutter, slowing them down in the process. If other racers fall or are hit by projectiles, they will be stunned for few seconds and the same goes for you.

Nippon Marathon Screenshot 2

I’m So Popular!

If you fall behind or are knocked off a platform, or something worse, you will lose one of your popularity stars. These appear at the top left-hand corner which displays how many stars each racer has… the more stars you have, the more likely you are to win the race.

Whoever stays in front wins a star and at end of the race, the player who has the most stars wins. You can also achieve other feats while racing; and you will be rewarded with stickers which add to the overall score at the end of a race.

Crazy Tracky!

It’s a game where anything can happen. One minute you’re the in lead, the next minute an earthquake erupts in the centre of town and falling debris start to fall all over the race track. Something can hit your head and you will topple into the canal below… all while the last place runner becomes the first place and claims a star. Literally anything can happen in the race. One moment you are racing in a busy market, and the next time is you are running on top of a speeding train. Variety keeps things interesting.

Bird’s Eye View!

Instead of being behind your character when racing, the view point is a bird’s eye view. This has some advantages and some disadvantages. Positives are everyone can be seen and the wide focus of the playfield lets you see what’s ahead and keeps everyone on the screen at the same time. The negative aspect is you can’t judge if something is hanging low which you need to duck under due to the view point, which leads me to crash into something most of the time because I couldn’t tell if the obstacle could be climbed over or required you to duck under. It’s only a little gripe and it didn’t happen all the time.

Race tracks offer a lot of variety and some of my favourites were running on top of a speeding train, as well as racing as a colossal giant, where you crush everyone under your foot and smash buildings and bridges Godzilla-style.

Levels are fun and can keep you entertained on multiple playthroughs as there’s always something that changes how you play.

The whole marathon reminds me on Takeshi’s Castle with its crazy and hilarious moments.

There are even little mini games that happen during races. Some of these may test your reflexes while others will have you trying to escape a maze… who knows what you might encounter in Nippon Marathon! Even with all its craziness in single player, it can still be dialled up to 10 if you add real people.

Nippon Marathon Screenshot 5

My legs are sore!

While the game has a lot of content, there are some issues that rear its ugly head now and again.

I found drawn out cut-scenes in the story mode go on for far too long, and with no way to skip them, it became tedious. Not a huge deal breaker, but for people that want to just race without narrative, this will get annoying fast.

Also, I experienced a few times that while story cutscenes were being played out, characters would walk off the screen and everything was still in motion, but the game didn’t progress into to next section or race. I was stuck in limbo. I had to quit the story and return to the main menu.

Another issue is while racing, it can be difficult sometimes to see small gaps in the track, or you can completely lose your character while racing. Things get pretty chaotic quickly, and sometimes I lose my bearings just because I wasn’t prepared for it.

My last gripe is getting stunned by falling obstacles or low hanging poles that you just can’t judge when you first encounter them. You need to duck or jump over them sometimes, but it’s difficult to judge heights from a bird’s point of view. And hitting or being hit by anything can cause you to be stunned… while fun to witness at first, it can make you lose stars pretty quickly.

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Audio

I really like the music in Nippon Marathon. It’s rather catchy and gets you in the mood for some serious racing. There are also a few voice clips that are sprinkled throughout the game during some of the in game cutscenes and they all sound ok. Voice acting reminds me of a really cheesy Japanese gameshow host, but it works in this context. Music and sound effects are all pretty good too.

Visuals & Performance

Visuals in Nippon Marathon are rather hilarious to look at. It looks like a PlayStation title with its hideous character models and rag-doll physics. However, that’s where its charm is, making the title even more fun to play through and makes most of the situations hilarious to see and playout.

Performance-wise, it ran pretty well even when there was a lot of stuff on screen at once. It ran just as well in 4 player mode. I only experienced one hiccup, but everything else was fine.

Switch Icon!

The Nippon Marathon Switch icon shows all 4 cast members with their running faces with the logo displayed clearly.

Game also supports screenshots and video capture.

Value

At £11.99, I think there’s a lot of content here. You’ve got story mode with each of the 4 characters; versus mode with 1 to 4 players marathons; and party mode where you play a Takeshi’s Castle-like game with multiple players locally or go bowling in shopping cart.

There’s an in game shop where you can buy extra characters from the currency you earn from the game.

Note: Game can be played by 1 up to 8 players in certain modes. I only managed get 4 players around, so that’s why haven’t really touched on it. More than likely, 8 players can pass the controller about and take turns in party mode games.

Pros

P

Hilarious 1 to 4 player chaos

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L.O.B.S.T.E.R. and GO-GO TROLLEY is great fun

P

Stuff to unlock

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Weird and wonderful race tracks

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Reminds me of Takeshi’s Castle

Cons

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No online

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Races can be a little too chaotic sometimes

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Getting stunned is annoying