Title: Nippon Marathon
Developer: Onion Soup Interactive
Publisher: PQube Limited
Genre: Indie, Racing, Sports
Platform: Steam PC
Audience: EVERYONE 10+
Release Date: 17/12/2018
Price: £11.99 – Rapid Reviews UK was very kindly provided with a review code for this title.
What the Developers say
San! Ni! Ichi! Hajime!!! Stretch your muscles and embark upon the ultimate marathon of Japan in a raucous ragdoll party multiplayer racer where anything can happen. Hurdle barrels, outrun Shiba Inu and dive out of the paths of bicycles – all while chucking fruit at your opponents and dashing across planks precariously balanced over waterfalls – in an unreal experience that must be played to be believed.
The rise of the Indie game has been something to marvel at. The ability of small-time studios to get their games onto major platforms, resulting in some like Shovel Knight and Undertale becoming more of a mainstream property, showing AAA companies how to offer compelling gameplay without all the nonsense of their over-indulgent monetisation. Can Nippon Marathon be considered in the same breath?
Looks and Sounds
Onion Soup used a lot of their time while the game was in early access to add a stack load of content and improve on the visual style, with the money used from those initial sales, to help them realise their vision for Nippon Marathon. This has particularly paid off very well, with each course feeling very unique, characters having their own distinct designs and environments feeling lived in.
There are a few instances of unusual clipping and falling through stages, spectators that are littered around the course are all the same model (which is a playable character called Spectator) these little instances didn’t hamper my experience of the game. I have always found that indie games aren’t going to exactly blow you away graphically like the bigger studios, but it is the premise and gameplay that make them stand out. Nippon Marathon is no different. While it is not the best looking Indie game I have played, you can see everything very clearly, with very nice details to the environment and its world.
Gameplay and Replayability
I first managed to experience Nippon Marathon while I was at EGX Rezzed (a UK based gaming convention held in London) in 2018. Developed by UK based developer Onion Soup Interactive and published by PQube, who have a track record of bringing Visual Novels and Anime games to Western audiences, the premise of this game is particularly strange. If you have ever watched an episode of Takeshi’s Castle, you will be familiar with the wackiness.
The aim of the game is to compete against 3 others, either AI or human controlled, to gain the most points by using various weapons and avoiding course obstacles by running a marathon through multiple locales, much like Micro Machines. Featuring a colourful cast of characters such as transgendered Zenbei, half human and half dog Snuguru and Elizabeth, who is dressed head to toe in a lobster suit, Nippon Marathon is every bit as bonkers as it is enjoyable.
The controls are very simplistic, with the use of either keyboard or controller, there are very few buttons to use, with only 3 being used (jump, dive and use weapon), it makes it a straightforward game to be able to show friends and pick and play within a few minutes of starting up the game. This is much to its advantage, as it doesn’t require to remember combinations, it is just you and the game.
Within a few minutes of starting the first course, myself and a couple of friends were absolutely laughing our collective heads off, as the ridiculous factor ramps up heavily when they include certain mini-events that occur, such as a weapon slot machine or a popularity contest based who picks the most ludicrous and pleasing statement to the “audience”. These popularity points also play a factor in who wins the game, as scores are tallied by popularity, points accumulated and weapons used. However, the one thing to its detriment is the unfortunate lack of content.
The single player is quite a good offering (only added to the full release) it is, unfortunately, a little bit too short, with it possible to complete in a few hours, and not really offering much else that’s different from the main offering, which is the local multiplayer. This mode is where the game really comes into its own, but only if you have local friends to be able to play this with. If you aim to play this game alone, you will probably just play and complete the campaign, and then you would be content with your play. However, I have managed at least 20+ hours just in local multiplayer, and I just can’t seem to put it down at all.
While this game was in early access, it suffered from various different user interface problems, such as controller mapping being quite awkward, resolution options not working very well. These, thankfully, have been fixed for the most part. The frame rate does still suffer from time to time, especially when everyone happens to use items at the same time, or a fair few environmental hazards happen all at once, like a multitude of dogs attacking at the same time. Like I have stated above with the graphics, these do not hamper the game in any way, as the name of the game is pure enjoyment and ridiculousness, which Nippon Marathon delivers by the boatload.
Nippon Marathon is a fabulous slice of Japanese cultural obscurity, as shown through the eyes of a Western audience. With its unusual premise, colourful cast of characters and wacky, over the top gameplay, this is a game that I would very highly recommend to anybody, but with a caveat, have a few local friends to play this with, otherwise the £11.99 price point on Steam may feel a little bit overpriced for a campaign which only last a few hours. But with local friends, this can be the next Micro Machines or Mashed on PS2.
Rapid Reviews UK Rating
You can purchase Nippon Marathon on Steam using the link below.