Party games are a constant back and forth in the game industry. While some games come out and become iconic classics immediately, there are plenty of them out there that just miss the mark. Unfortunately, Nippon Marathon by Onion Soup Interactive is one of the latest party games that seems to be heading towards one of many that are just missing a captivating quality that makes players want to continue to return.
There are some good qualities in the game as well, but it is not enough to cover the negative points currently. There is the comical aspect to the game, from the character options to the rag doll style effects when a player runs into an item or is attacked by one of the many challenges in the race. I also enjoyed the fact that there are mini games within the race that could happen at any point, as well as, the way the race is broken up into check points so that all players can stay within range of each other with proper consequences in place. Let's break it down.
Nippon Marathon is a game that is all about racing. There are multiple modes to race in with the top options to be a single race or a marathon race. Marathon races are basically four races back to back with a collaborative score from each race that takes place; standard marathon racing set up. However, there is currently only different race options to play. Aside from the standard race modes, there is a head-to-head mode called L.O.B.S.T.E.R., which I am unsure what that is supposed to stand for. This game works a lot like HORSE, except you don't end up spelling LOBSTER in the game. I'm not sure why they wouldn't just have it be called the word they spell out, but you basically take turns racing on a randomized track with random challenges along the way and whoever goes the farthest wins the round.
The game can be played as a multiplayer and would make for a fun couch game for those that can handle the struggle that comes at the price of comedy. The first few times that I messed up and went rag doll, I laughed. Then it happened often and it is difficult to get back up since there doesn't seem to be a consistency to being downed. You could be able to get back up immediately or it could take a few tries, all depending on how your are lucky, or unlucky, enough to land. This is extra agitating in sections that have challenges like the dogs, where no matter how good you are they can just take you down.
There are also items along the way for you to collect. You will need to figure out what each of them do, just as you did back with the classic games like Mario Kart, but could contain any number of things. My favorite items were the banana's, which have the same effect as you would expect, and the pineapple's. The pineapple was a balloon item that would lift you in the air, giving you easy passage over some of the challenges on the ground below you. This was one of the other positives within this game.
As I mentioned before, there were mid-race mini games. I do enjoy the fact that these exist, however I was not amused by the options that were there. While one was just a slot machine draw that gave one random perk to the player, which was the best option of all the mini games, there were also other options that need to be tweaked or changed. The worst one was the "pick a line" mini game. All you did was pick one of the four lines available in a multiple number of sequences and then they put them together to see what kind of sentence came out. Thing is, there is almost no time given for you to read even one so it is a complete random option. It makes it less interactive and more luck based. Luck based should be balanced with interactive options so that players have a chance to flex some skills to gain an advantage over their opponents.
Graphics and Sounds
The visuals on this game is nothing too special. The crowd and levels are all kepts at a low poly with all the focus on the characters, the items, and the obstacles. They used a comical style for everything and provide bright colors, making it a more friendly aesthetic style for all players.
The music is the biggest complaint I have with this game. Each map has their own music, but with the limited amount of races I ended up with one main track that played a lot and it is quite an annoying song. Heavy on the lyrics and light on the actual music makes for bad background noise. The music can be funny and more music based rather than lyric based. It isn't supposed to be one of the main focuses of the game, yet they use a song that takes a lot of focus away from the players. There are a few other soundtracks used, but none of them are remarkable either.
With Nippon Marathon still in early access, there is still plenty of hope for the game yet. I hope to see a lot more game modes added, better mini games, hopefully a soundtrack upgrade, and way more map options. They could use some work on the overall game physics as well. It got my attention originally with the comedy aspect, split screen option, and being a new party game, but after playing it I am just hoping for the best. As for now, I will be waiting for future updates before I load this game back up.