A race worth running for!
Let’s talk about a slightly different entry. Something wacky! That brings you back to the days when you watched Takeshi’s Castle. We’re talking about none other than Nippon Marathon, a game lovingly created by Onion Soup Interactive on February 16, 2018. As the name suggests, this is kind of a racing game, but it’s not the racing or marathon that you are used to. You will be trying your luck as a player to race across Japan in races short and long. Not only will you see various topographies, but you will also be avoiding various obstacles, opponents, and hazards to get through to the finish line.
Let’s touch on the story first. You have the option to select between 4 characters. From this, you will see from their point of view why they entered the Nippon Marathon, what their dreams and aspirations are, and their journey through the marathon itself. It’s done in a way that almost looks like a visual novel. It’ll take a semi-experienced player about 2-3 hours to complete their first run. Like all racing games, regardless of what mode is selected, the goal of the game is always to get from point A to point B. There are items you can pick up along the way that can either assist or hurt you.
Most extreme elimination challenges ahoy!
Nippon Marathon features several more modes in addition to its story mode. We have a versus mode where you can locally play with up to four other individuals. You or other players can always switch in and out of this mode when playing. Alternatively, there are always AI bots you can race against! You also don’t need to worry about which screen to look at either, as the camera will follow the faster runners in general.
There’s also the party mode, which can be great for a bigger group of friends. With this mode, you and your friends can play various mini-games, such as a game of PIG, where the player who loses each round gets a letter. The best thing about Nippon Marathon is that it is not all about the racing. There are secondary goals you need to meet to progress the game. For example, it doesn’t always matter who is the fastest. You would need to look at other factors such as “popularity”.
Onto the graphics! Hear me out on this, while it won’t win awards for stellar graphics, it fits perfectly with the wack and wild premise of the game. It encapsulates the feeling of watching a Japanese Game Show and Takeshi’s Castle. Its duty is not to wow but to get you to laugh out loud. The character models function to the same degree as Goat Simulator or Goat of Duty. Bodies will contort and flay in all kinds of places. This is especially true if you accidentally fall into traps or if you’re not fast enough during the race.
Smoke me a kipper, I’ll be back for breakfast.
And now, for the music! There are some really fun soundtracks in the game, that picks and mixes elements of Japanese genre music often found in game shows. You’d be impressed to find out that the sound effects and the commentating during each race makes it feel all the more like you are watching a Japanese game show.
My final impressions as a whole are generally positive with respect to this game. It’s a hidden gem in the steam store for party games. It’s charming in its own way and I can see how this could be seen as an acquired taste for some since humor in Japan hits different from the humor at home. I feel it has a marvelous amount of replayability, and lots of items to unlock. Worth every penny!
You can find Nippon Marathon on Steam.