3,653 Nights: 10 Years of Sonic and the Secret Rings

A Storybook Retrospective of Sonic and the Secret Rings

Once upon a time, on the nineteenth night of February 2017, I had fallen fast asleep on my sofa. An issue of Sonic the Comic lay strewn out upon my face, its pages fluttering up and down in the makeshift breeze as my body gently breathed in and out. A fireplace roared away in the corner of the room as the quiet ticking of the grandfather clock permeated the silence. Eventually, the two hands pointed upwards and the simple staccato beats transformed into a melodic chime. A strange magic seemed to fill the air.

“Zzz…” I snored, happily oblivious to my surroundings.

“Um…” murmured a familiar voice. It was not enough to make me stir.

“Zzz…” I snored some more. My unexpected guest grew impatient.

“Hmph! Hey, wake up!

I came to with a start, the comic slipping off my face and onto the floor. My eyes shot straight over to the clock. Midnight! February 20th had arrived.

“Boy, is it that late already?!”

I leaned down to reach for the comic, but instead found myself picking up a shining circular object. A copy of Sonic and the Secret Rings! But what was it doing here, and why was it out of its box…? Suddenly, a ghostly mist surrounded the disc, and out popped a female genie with pointy ears and purple-pink hair!

“Do not be alarmed,” she explained, “I am Shahra, the Genie of the Disc!”

I rubbed my eyes in disbelief. Surely this couldn’t really be happening?!

“This is what I get for listening to Big the Cat’s Emerald Coast music before bedtime…” I mumbled to myself.

“Please,” she begged, “look at this!”

A laptop materialised in her hands, the screen displaying a series of posts on an internet forum. The name of the thread: ‘Sonic and the Secret Rings sucks!

“Wow, those comments are… harsh!” I observed, a little shocked. “Opinions on it really have changed, haven’t they!”

“Our world, the world of the Secret Rings, is vanishing!” she revealed. “It is the work of an incredibly evil spirit… the Erazor Djinn! He has begun to carve up our game’s reputation. When it first released exactly ten years ago today, the reception was generally positive – but now it is crumbling apart! If our fanbase ceases to exist, then this story will be silenced forever…”

“That definitely sounds like trouble,” I agreed, “but what do you want me to do?”

“I want you to stop it. Only you can restore the people’s belief in Sonic and the Secret Rings!”

“I suppose I can help out with that… but this is all something out of a videogame, right?” I questioned, ever so slightly perplexed. “How am I supposed to do anything about that?”

“That’s easy,” Shahra replied, “you are my master, having called forth the Genie of the Disc. Bringing you into the world of the Secret Rings is within my power. Now, please place the disc into the console…”

Obediently, I bent down and inserted the game into my dusty old Nintendo Wii. With a thunderous whir of power and a flash of rainbow light, I found myself standing in a whole new world.

I had arrived in a tunnel of golden light: a swirling vortex with giant pieces of paper floating all around.

“Where are we?” I asked Shahra.

“This is the Lost Preview, the world before the Secret Rings…”

I looked down at the pages making up the road beneath my feet. They were extracts from old magazine and website articles about the game, from early impressions to initial reviews. Lo and behold, most of them were pretty optimistic.

“Hey, I used to read some of these! Wow… I’d almost forgotten that the game was called Sonic Wildfire in early development! Check out some of the great things people were saying… man, I was so excited for it back then!”

At this point, it also occurred to me that, completely automatically, I had started running along in a straight line. Shahra noticed my surprise, and commented:

“Yeah, that’s a force of habit in the world of the Secret Rings. You’ll get used to it.”

Unfortunately, it seemed I had also lost my ability to stop, and soon found myself running straight into the back of a big ugly purple genie wielding a mighty scythe. The Erazor Djinn!

“You… you must be that ape that just got added to the story!” he grinned, turning around to face me.

“Don’t you know anything? I’m not an ape, I’m a human!” I pedantically corrected him.

“I have already ruined this game’s Metacritic average and forced SEGA to de-list it from retail stores! Soon the rest of its fans will follow…”

“We’ll see about that!” I bit back, my legs still stuck in a running animation with Shahra having to hold me in place.

“Oh, you’re one of them, are you? I suppose a suitable punishment is in order, then…”

Without warning, Erazor shot a burning arrow of fire right into my chest.

“This game’s reputation is tied to the flame. Bring me one good reason not to blight it to oblivion before the arrow extinguishes. If you do not… your journalistic credibility is forfeit! Hahahahaha!”

“Ouch!” I yelped, as Erazor quickly teleported away into the ether. “I reckon I’m going to need some Gaviscon to sort out this heartburn…”

“No, we do not have time. Let the speed mend it!” Shahra suggested instead. I wondered if she realised she had just made an in-joke. “You must hurry and remember what made you fall in love with the Secret Rings a whole decade ago…”

Shahra conjured up a luxurious-looking magic carpet and gestured to climb on board with her. She handed me a Wii Remote, telling me that I could use it to steer us around.

“Now this is first-class!” I exclaimed, just grateful not to be endlessly running on my feet any more.

I looked up to see a series of locales now listed in front of me. Somewhere from the depths of the vortex, a voice was singing: ‘Make-believes reborn! Myths in mind rethought..!’. That won’t ever get annoying, I thought. Deciding to visit the areas in order, we soared onward, and my adventure into the world of the Secret Rings had begun…

One thing became clear as we perpetually ventured forwards: every step on our journey was a fast and thrilling rollercoaster ride of fun. Or, at least, most steps were. In between the high octane magic carpet flights, we had to make shorter and less exciting visits to each locale. I didn’t much see the point in revisiting the same places over and over again for a number of trivial tasks: collecting (or not collecting) rings, destroying a very specific amount of evil spirits, or painstakingly hunting for dinosaur eggs. Shahra, however, insisted that it was necessary in order to forge the path ahead – which would have been fine, except that we had to zig-zag between locales to do so, with increasingly grating echoes of ‘Make believes reborn!’ greeting us every time. For a world so obsessed with moving forwards, Secret Rings didn’t really seem to comprehend the virtues of straightforward linearity.

“This is needlessly obtuse, you do realise that?” I remarked. Shahra chose to ignore me.

It had also become clear after a while that our mode of transport was far from ideal. The Wii Remote, though a novel means of steering, was just that: a novelty. Tilting to and fro worked fine, but the struggle to slow down and reverse caused untold amount of crashes and near-misses. I pleaded with Shahra for a more traditional method of controlling our movement, but she insisted that this was the only way. I started to believe that turning around and going backwards must be considered a crime in these lands. Either that or the world had just taken Green Forest’s ‘Won’t Stop, Just Go!’ mentality a little too seriously.

By the time we finally reached the heart of the Night Palace, I was feeling pretty jaded and weary – our adventuring had literally been non-stop! But, in spite of all my frustrations, there was no time to rest. The flaming arrow in my chest was nearly gone, and the Erazor Djinn still had to be stopped. Entering his throne room, we could hear him reciting an incantation:

“Ifalas zaras I e zaraq, Ifalas zaras I e zaraq…”

“What’s he doing?” I asked Shahra.

“He’s summoning an angry mob to burn what’s left of this game’s reputation to the ground!” she panicked. “You must stop him, now!”

Erazor finished his spell and an army of disgruntled Sonic fans with torches and pitchforks materialised beside him. Sensing our presence, Erazor turned around and laughed maniacally.

“Ah, it’s the ape again! Have you brought me your one good reason?”

“Umm… actually, I don’t know…” I answered honestly.

Erazor and Shahra looked equally stunned.

“You see, I can completely understand why some people wouldn’t like this game. It can be a right royal pain trying to traverse through these areas using the Wii Remote, and the constant coming and going between different areas to complete missions can bring the momentum grinding to a halt. Which is ironic really, considering it’s all meant to be about never-ending speed!”

Shahra put her head in her hands, defeated. Erazor smirked and nodded to the angry mob to start approaching.

“But,” I continued, “that doesn’t mean it’s not without its charm. For all of the game’s faults, I can’t help but admire it. Whether it was Sand Oasis, Evil Foundry, Levitated Ruin, Skeleton Dome, or anywhere else: this is a gorgeous, gorgeous world. The landscapes, the lighting, the set pieces… they’re all beautifully diverse. And all from a launch-window title on a standard definition console! Maybe including dinosaurs and pirates is a little strange thematically, but I’m willing to give those a pass for sheer spectacle alone. Oh, and I absolutely loved the music of this world, too! I may never know what an Unawakening Float is, or find out who’s gonna rock the place, place, place, but these are all songs I will never forget. They’re just so… unique. And I think that about sums it up: Secret Rings is a game that dares to be different. Yes, it’s a product of its time that cashed in on gimmicky motion controls. Yes, it hasn’t aged very well by modern standards. But back in 2007, compared to the other Sonic titles on the market, this was a big deal. Strip away its technical flaws and Secret Rings is a game that’s simple yet compelling in its story, its presentation… and, at times, even its gameplay. Trash talk it all you like, but its creative heart will burn on with a passion that can never be extinguished!”

It was at this point that I expected the flaming arrow in my chest to burst forth with almighty, triumphant vigour. Alas, no such luck.

“Pah! You think that’s good enough to stop me?” laughed Erazor at my excuses.

“Oh… umm…” I desperately scrambled for other ideas, “well I suppose Secret Rings is technically canon now, seeing as it did get mentioned in Generations, so…”

Erazor just carried on laughing. Even I knew that was a pathetic attempt.

“You have failed, ape! Now, feel the wrath of the flame!”

With a click of his fingers, Erazor’s angry mob angled their pitchforks in my direction and came after me. I needed a get-out and I needed it quick.

“This doesn’t look good! Shahra, please lend me your power!”

A distant voice cried out: ‘Time break!!’

There was a flash of grey and the world slowed to a crawl. Seizing the opportunity, I turned and ran. And I ran, and I ran, until I found my way home. Sonic somehow managed it, so I figured I could too.

I don’t know whether my efforts managed to make any difference to the fate of the Secret Rings. Ten years on from its original release, I got to relive both its highs and its lows – and, while it often felt like an arduous journey, I do not regret making a return visit to its world. Strange, isn’t it? That’s this game in a nutshell. Maybe that’s what makes it special.

The past was kind to Secret Rings. The present, not so much. Its future reputation? Well, that remains uncertain. Day by day, only time will tell if it’s meant to be… but in my opinion?

It’s worth a chance.

– THE END –

Celebrate 10 years of Sonic and the Secret Rings by sharing your memories below!

HoL’s Musings: Sonic’s Future and Potential on the Nintendo Switch

What seemed to be an eternity of waiting since its announcement on March 17th, 2015 has finally passed on October 20th, 2016, as Nintendo had at long last lifted the curtain on the “NX,” or should I say the Nintendo Switch. Even before that day, Sega officially announced that Sonic would indeed be making an appearance on the system. It won’t be just any game, but the even longer-awaited next main game from Sonic Team called Project Sonic 2017provided the Switch version is the same as the PS4/XBO/PC versions. Continue reading HoL’s Musings: Sonic’s Future and Potential on the Nintendo Switch

Nintendo Will Finally Preview the Long-Awaited NX Console Today

With a tentative release set for March 2017 and no official word from Nintendo about anything regarding their rumoured hybrid home-handheld system, the rumour-mill has spun on and on since early last year about the company’s fabled new console. Codenamed “NX,” the long wait has left fans of the company and the gaming industry with growing amounts of anticipation, excitement, and fatigue, but at last, the wait is finally over!

Continue reading Nintendo Will Finally Preview the Long-Awaited NX Console Today

Free Sonic Hat with Sonic Boom: Fire & Ice at Nintendo UK

Sonic Boom: Fire & Ice, the sequel to Sanzaru Games’ Sonic Boom: Shattered Crystal from 2014, races onto Nintendo 3DS in Europe on Friday 30th September. With only a few weeks to go until the release date, UK gamers can now put their pre-orders down on the Nintendo UK Online Store and get a nifty Sonic hat for free!

Admittedly it’s not the most exciting pre-order incentive in the world – the site openly admits that these are the same 20th anniversary hats that have been floating around and given away at events for the past five years – but it’s certainly better than nothing! If you’ve ever wanted to look like your favourite blue hedgehog and never managed to nab one of these beauties, now’s your chance.

Continue reading Free Sonic Hat with Sonic Boom: Fire & Ice at Nintendo UK

New Footage of Sonic Boom: Fire & Ice Gives Us Another Look at Bot-Racing

There’s not much time before the launch of Sonic Boom: Fire & Ice for the Nintendo 3DS. Come the end of September, Sonic fans in the West can get their hands on the third playable instalment of the Sonic Boom series, helmed by Shattered Crystal developer Sanzaru Games as the studio aims to improve where the previous game went wrong – with SEGA going so far as to delay it by a whole year as part of their pledge to aim for a higher standard of quality for all of their games from here on out.

SEGA of Japan recently hosted a near-two hour long livestream showing off several of their upcoming games, including the latest Yakuza, the recently revealed Puyo Chronicle, and Atlus’ highly anticipated Persona 5, but not without kicking things off with a sneak peek at the localized Sonic Toon: Fire & Ice. Gameplay featuring Sonic, Knuckles, and Sticks was shown off in the segment, as well as another look at the Sonic Rivals-esque Bot-Racing. You can check out the interview in full, or watch just the gameplay with footage spliced together by BlueParadox, after the cut!

Continue reading New Footage of Sonic Boom: Fire & Ice Gives Us Another Look at Bot-Racing

Yuji Naka wishes to pitch Mario & Sonic action game to Takashi Iizuka

Just recently, Yuji Naka and Naoto Ohshima spoke with the Japanese magazine Famitsu, and commented on the origins of the Mario & Sonic series, as well as Sonic joining Super Smash Bros. Brawl. But Yuji Naka also said that he wishes to give another presentation to Sonic Team’s Takashi Iizuka about a potential Mario & Sonic action game. See the quote below.

Continue reading Yuji Naka wishes to pitch Mario & Sonic action game to Takashi Iizuka

TSS Review: Mario and Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games (Wii U)

Mario and Sonic was always the topic at the Copa. With the Olympics just weeks around the corner, Mario and Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games for the Wii U is finally out on the shelves. Promising more characters, better graphics, 14 Olympic events and an array of content, will this game have you partying like you’re in Maracanã, or will you be left thinking of it as Barren da Tijuca?

Continue reading TSS Review: Mario and Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games (Wii U)

Japanese Website of Mario & Sonic Rio Wii U now open, shows new info

Following the release of the overview trailer from yesterday, Nintendo has opened up the Japanese website for the Wii U version of Mario & Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. The website reveals a list of sports, duel events (described in a previous report) and characters in the Wii U version (with certain characters only playable in the listed sports). Continue reading Japanese Website of Mario & Sonic Rio Wii U now open, shows new info

New near 5 min Japanese overview trailer of M&S Rio 2016 Wii U released

Nintendo’s Japanese YouTube channel has just released an overview trailer of Mario & Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games on Wii U. It showcases the game’s various events, with looks at the single-player mode, the multiplayer mode, the costumes you can earn, and the amiibo features at the very end. Continue reading New near 5 min Japanese overview trailer of M&S Rio 2016 Wii U released

New Mario & Sonic Rio 2016 Wii U PR released, along with many new details and screenshots

A new PR of Mario & Sonic at the Rio Olympic Games on Wii U has been released by Nintendo of Europe. The entire PR itself is linked below, but to summarize, the Wii U version features 17 events, features over 30 playable characters, the ability to play as your Mii (same as on 3DS), four-player multiplayer action (common for the series of course), and new Duel Events which “give familiar sports a classic Mario & Sonic twist”. Continue reading New Mario & Sonic Rio 2016 Wii U PR released, along with many new details and screenshots

Nintendo Releasing Series of live-action videos for M&S Rio 2016

Here’s a familiar sight. Nintendo has uploaded to their Play Nintendo YouTube page the first episode of a live-action series of videos about Mario and Sonic training for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. The first episode is titled “Training for Rio!”, and it focuses on the 3DS version which released today in North America. Continue reading Nintendo Releasing Series of live-action videos for M&S Rio 2016

New Overview Trailer for Mario & Sonic Rio 2016 3DS

Coinciding with the game’s US release today, Nintendo have uploaded a brand new overview trailer for the 3DS version of Mario and Sonic’s latest Olympic crossover. The trailer shows off a selection of the events on offer, from soccer and golf to athletics and gymnastics. There’s also a peek at some of the game’s Dream Events, which add a Mario or Sonic spin on the traditional sports. Continue reading New Overview Trailer for Mario & Sonic Rio 2016 3DS

(Update) Mario & Sonic Rio 2016 Wii U releases in NA and EU on June 24th, final NA box and new screens shown

MSRio2016_OlympicGames_boxart

Update: We now have a video of the intro of the Wii U version as seen below:

We now also know that the Wii U version releases in Japan on June 23rd and will cost ¥5,700.

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Just announced in the newest Nintendo Direct. Nintendo has announced that Mario & Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games on Wii U will release in NA and EU on June 24th.

We also have the final NA Wii U box shown above, as well as new screenshots below.

Arzest, formed by key ex-Sega folks, worked on M&S Rio 2016 3DS

The names you’re about to see may surprise you.

A user by the name of Cyberman65 has uploaded the true ending and credits of Mario & Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games for 3DS, and one company in particular mentioned (at 3:43 in the video above) who assisted in the development of the game along with the people who specifically worked on the game, will be very familiar to Sonic fans.

That company is Arzest, and the company was co-formed by none other than Naoto Ohshima (along with fellow ex-Sonic Team and Team Andromeda (Panzer Dragoon) veterans Yoji Iishi and Yutaka Sugano), who fans will very likely know is one of Sonic’s creators, most known for having originally designed his and Eggman’s appearances.

Arzest’s portion of the credits are as follows:

ARZEST Corp.

Directors: Masahito Shimizu, Noboru Shirasu

Art Director: Yoshihide Sasagawa

Technical Director: Tomoo Kondo

Game Designers: Jun Imanishi, Daisuke Hagiya, Ryo Sato, Takashi Nakashima, Mitsunori Yamazaki, Tadaaki Moriya, Rena Sakaguchi, Hidemi Hamada, Makoto Hara, Gen Murayama, Gen Shiomi, Koji Arai, Akihiko Sato, Teppei Iwanaga, Mitsunori Shimazu, Motoharu Nakajima

Stage Artists: Daisuke Kojima, Kana Fujibayashi, Ayana Katsumata, Masaya Takahashi

Character Animators: Hiroshi Arai, Eriko Kato, Yuya Iwama

Graphic U.I. Artists: Yuno Endoh, Chihiro Ishikura, Chika Yamamoto, Makoto Sonoda, Akihito Kato, Tsutomu Hatanaka, Tatsuya Ishikawa, Michiru Sasamori

SFX Artists: Tatsuro Matsunaga, Yasuhisa Nakagawa

Cutscene Artsist: Yuichi Nakamura

Programmers: Shinji Iseki, Naotaka Ueda, Kouichi Watanabe, Mikio Kume, Kenji Miyakawa, Kohei Iwata, Takanori Yoshida, Manabu Kobayashi, Akihiko Ohyama, Kazuya Azuma, Kenichi Otani, Hiroshi Fujinishi, Toshinori Suzuki, Norio Suzuki Fumie Morishita

Art Supervisor: Masamichi Harada

Supervisor: Naoto Ohshima

Producer: Yutaka Sugano

Executive Producer: Yoji Iishi

Naoto Ohshima would work with Sega on Sonic games and more until Sonic Adventure 1 on Dreamcast, on which he filled the roles of CG Movie Producer, Story Event Coordinator, one of the Event Motion Designers, and Opening Movie Editor. Afterward in 1999, he left along with Yoji Iishi and Yutaka Sugano (and numerous others) to form a company called Artoon. Their first game would be Pinobee for the Game Boy Advance (it also got a PS1 port later on).

They’re most known for projects like Blinx the Time Sweeper on the original Xbox, Blue Dragon on Xbox 360, and also Yoshi’s Topsy Turvy on the GBA and Yoshi’s Island DS. One of their final works under the name was Flingsmash for Wii directly with Nintendo. In 2005 Artoon was bought by AQ Interactive (now after mergers and renames they’re part of Marvelous). In 2010, AQ decided to absorb all of their developers (Artoon, Cavia, and Feelplus), and thus Artoon would cease to exist as a name.

In that same year, Artoon’s founders including Naoto Ohshima would leave AQ and form Arzest, along with many other Artoon folks.

Their first task was working on Wii Play Motion for Nintendo, alongside many other companies like Spike Chunsoft (makers of Shiren the Wanderer, among many other franchises), Good-Feel (Yoshi’s Woolly World, Kirby’s Epic Yarn, and Wario Land: Shake It), Skip (Chibi-Robo), Vanpool (Dillon’s Rolling Western), ND Cube (Mario Party after MP8), Mitchell Corp (Polarium) and… Prope, formed by none other than Yuji Naka himself (they made games like Rodea the Sky Solider on Wii and “Ivy the Kiwi?” also on Wii and DS). Arzest handled three mini-games; Spooky Search, Jump Park, and Cone Zone. Prope on the other hand only made one; Trigger Twist.

Speaking of which, it’s actually a known fact that Yuji Naka and Naoto Ohshima actually BOTH came up with a ghost-themed mini-game and Naoto Ohshima got to keep his in the end. Yuji Naka mentioned this in the Iwata Asks for the game;

Right. But it got shelved it. When this project came up, we worked on it some more and made a prototype, but it clashed with Oshima-san’s project. They were both about ghosts. Ours was removed from competition, but in the two weeks left for prototypes, we made Trigger Twist.

Great minds think alike as they say.

Back to Arzest. Their first major project was Yoshi’s New Island for 3DS. Since then they’ve mostly been focused on mobile efforts including helping with Mistwalker’s Terra Battle and also a game called Boost Beast.

Mario & Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games for 3DS is their first major game since, but they actually are not the only developer who assisted with the project. Spike Chunsoft also lent a hand as well.

To be clear, Arzest’s role seems more of a smaller hand, rather than fully taking charge of it like with Yoshi’s New Island which was officially an Arzest-developed game. But it’s very surprising to see Naoto Ohshima actually officially work on a Sonic-related game for the first time since leaving Sega in 1999. However some might point out he was listed as Special thanks for Sonic Generations HD, but there’s no certainty of what that thanks is for. He very likely had no real part in its development. In fact, MobyGames, which collects credits for a lot of games, makes no mention of him, and I also watched a video of the credits in the game, no mention either, I even checked a video of the credits of the 3DS version (skip to 14:05), nothing. I honestly wouldn’t believe that claim at all to begin with.

And there you have it. What are your thoughts on the news of Arzest’s involvement with the game? Let us know in the comments below!

More screens and footage of M&S Rio Arcade Edition

Mario & Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games Arcade Edition

Sega and Nintendo have finally opened the official Japanese site of the Arcade Edition of Mario & Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, and includes footage from a variety of events in the game.

So far as playable characters go, we just have the usual characters including Mario, Yoshi, Sonic, Knuckles, Bowser, Peach, Eggman, Amy, Luigi, Wario, Tails, Shadow, Bowser Jr., DK, Metal Sonic, and Vector. The site teases at least four more to be unveiled, but naturally they’re surely to be any of the other known characters in the 3DS versions’ 40 total.

Among the events showcased is the classic 100m, which you can see below, with more in the events page.

And just a few of the small screens provided below. There are quite a bit more shown when clicking on a character in the characters page.

Via the Japanese website of the game.

Mario & Sonic Rio Olympics Wii U dated for June 2016

Sonic Boom Fire Ice 2016

Upon closer inspection of the same poster that confirms Fire & Ice’s delay to Fall 2016 (again from Tomy’s booth at the New York Toy Fair), we also get the first indication of not only a time frame, but a month of June 2016 for the Wii U version of Rio Olympics’ release.

This post will be updated if we hear about any additional details.

Mario & Sonic Rio 2016 launches 8th April in Europe

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Just announced via Nintendo of Europe’s official Twitter page, Mario & Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games will be hitting European store shelves in a couple of months on Friday 8th April. Starring gaming’s two biggest icons in their fifth sporting crossover since 2007, the new game in the best-selling franchise promises more characters, more events, and more fun than ever before.

This follows the recent announcement from Nintendo of America that Mario & Sonic’s latest Olympic face-off would be arriving across the pond on 18th March, a few weeks prior to the newly announced European release date.

Please note both of these dates are only for the 3DS version of the game, with the Wii U version following later in the year – presumably to coincide with the launch of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games themselves. We’ll keep you posted as soon as an official date is revealed.

Are you excited to see Mario & Sonic in Rio? Will you be picking up the 3DS version on 18th March or 8th April, depending on your region? Let us know in the comments!

2 new Japanese trailers for M&S Rio 2016 for 3DS featuring characters and amiibo

Nintendo have uploaded two new trailers of Mario & Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games for 3DS on their Japanese YouTube account.

The first trailer is the main trailer featuring new playable characters and events, among the characters shown include Cream the Rabbit, Zavok of the Deadly Six, Eggman Nega, and more.

The second trailer shows off the amiibo functionality. While no new amiibo were announced, we see that at the very least the Mario amiibo from the Super Mario line, and the Sonic amiibo from the Super Smash Bros. series are confirmed to be usable.

Unfortunately we do not yet have translations of the info discussed in the trailers. We will provide a follow-up report when we have the info translated.

The 3DS version of the game will release in Japan on February 18th, 2016. There’s still no info on a release date of the game in the western regions, nor is there any updates on the Wii U version of the game.

Scrapped Sonic and the Black Knight Poster Found

Sonic & the Black Knight promo poster

The Sonic Stadium has uncovered what appears to be an unused promotional poster for Wii exclusive Sonic and the Black Knight. The poster was created by a company called KJSCoverArt who have designed a lot of album covers for various artists, as seen on their portfolio. We assume this image must have been made pretty early on because you’ll notice Sonic is wearing two of the same gauntlet he wears in the game instead of just one, as well as a helmet, which looks much like Shadow/Lancelot’s. Other changes include slight differences in Caliburn’s hilt and the game’s logo.

What do you think of this artwork? Would you have preferred Sonic to have worn more armour? Speak out in the comments.

Source: KJSCoverArt

First footage of Mario & Sonic Rio 2016 Arcade Edition

Above we have the first video (recorded by Arcade Heroes) from the IAAPA 2015 arcade event showcasing the arcade version of Mario & Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games already translated in full English.

The video shows off the current roster of playable characters which at the moment are your expected norm, being Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, Amy, Eggman, and Shadow for the Sonic-side. As well as Mario, Luigi, Peach, Bowser, Wario, and Yoshi on the Mario-side.

We also have a look at four activities in the game (100m, Archery, Hammer Throw, and Javelin Throw), the same four already known of before in an earlier report (which talked about the controls of each event). Each starts off with a tutorial screen that can be skipped.

There will be two different cabinet releases; one with 4-player support which is shown in the video with the overhead displays and screens, and a 2-player version without the extra displays.

The arcade version actually indeed runs on Sega’s Nu arcade hardware, which is more or less a revision of Ring Edge 2.

The arcade version is set for January or February 2016 in the US. The 3DS version is only scheduled for a February 18 2016 release in Japan, while the Wii U version has no date as of yet.

TSS Review: 3D Sonic the Hedgehog 2 for 3DS eShop

3D Sonic The Hedgehog 2 BannerDeveloper: M2 Release Date: July 22, 2015 (JP), October 8, 2015 (NA/UK/EU) Price: 800円/$5.99/£4.49/€4.99

Review copy provided by Sega

3D Sonic the Hedgehog 2, the second Genesis/Mega Drive Sonic game to hit the 3DS eShop again comes with added stereoscopic 3D visuals and other new features as the original did before it. I played the game from beginning to end, and actually for the very first time ever as well. This will be a fresh perspective from someone who has never played the game fully before which may surprise some people. I would be lying if I said I’ve never played the game before, because I did in fact play it in Sonic Mega Collection for the GameCube way back in 2002. However that was more in bite-sizes and playing around with the infamous debug mode (can’t go wrong with instant Super Sonic).

But here on 3DS I played the game fair and square… with one exception, which I promise to address in the review you are about to read.

Sonic 2 Screenshot 1

Home Menu of the game

To begin, I wish to clarify that I only merely tried out the 3D the game is offering, and in my personal opinion, it doesn’t add much to the game at all. You’re not going to get something revolutionary unless you love 3D to begin with (to me, 3D is a complement, rather than a needed feature in games, it doesn’t mean much to me other than minor amusement). In particular, I found the 3D in the special stages, which a lot were looking forward to seeing in motion, really doesn’t work much at all. Especially since the frame-by-frame motion of the stage doesn’t mesh with the 3D and can indeed be hard to handle. The game may be called 3D Sonic the Hedgehog 2, but to me the real appeal is that the game is on it in all its classic Genesis/Mega Drive glory and in native 320×224 resolution to boot, no more blurry upscaling here. I also want to quickly mention that I did not play the multiplayer mode in the game because I don’t have anyone else to try it with so this review is squarely about the core single-player game.

With that aside, let’s talk about the game. This is a tad difficult, because people reading this have a lot of expectations, because the vast majority have played all the classics and love them dearly, and I can very much see why and the appeal. My personal experience with Sonic 2 is actually not as rosy as you’d imagine it to be.

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Regular gameplay of Emerald Hill Zone in Original Mode

Let’s start with the good, and there are certainly great things to talk about. First off, it’s a beautiful game, the game on 3DS indeed still runs at a brisk 60 frames per second and you really get that classic sense of speed when going fast. Also the aforementioned native resolution just makes the pixels shine, and of course you have beautiful color reproduction and it being on an LCD and everything. You’re looking at the game literally how it was supposed to look.

There’s also the music by the same composer as Sonic 1, Masato Nakamura. His tunes are back, and sound exactly as they should and great as always. I must say and others have pointed this out; when you boot-up the game on 3DS the “SEGA” chant is bizarrely lower-quality than it should be, I tested Sonic 1 on 3DS and it sounds fine. I’m not sure why that is, M2 are famous for their attention to detail and skills in porting and emulating, so I won’t fault them for it. There must be a reason, but it’s not that big of a deal, it sounds alright otherwise and the music and sound effects are just fine. Actually it needs to be brought up that the sound effects tend to favor one over the other where certain occasions will only play one sound over and other at the same time, but that’s likely just to emulate the Genesis/Mega Drive’s limitations.

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Special Stages

With the good out of the way, it’s now time to look at the bad, and there are some major topics to cover. The biggest of them all is what you see right above; the special stages. Is it the format with the half-pipe? No, actually the gameplay is legit fun and trying to grab each row of rings and whatnot is fun yet challenging. Sure the spike balls can be a bit of a pain to avoid, but overall that’s just fine. The real thorn, is Tails. Tails has a problem; he is not only able to grab rings, but he is not invincible, and he’s not one to avoid hazards. This is a critical problem. As you may know, the goal is to collect the amount of rings required to get through three sections until you finally reach that precious chaos emerald with 7 to collect in total. Tails likes to hog rings and loses them constantly, he cannot hold on to rings to save his life, so it comes down to you having to make sure Sonic is the one to grab them before Tails does. But there are times when it’s just a constant case of where you’re less than a handful of rings short of the goal, and this happens a lot.

There are other issues in the game and surprisingly, it comes from Sonic’s trademark; his speed. The very soul of the franchise, the very thing Sega used to combat Nintendo and Mario himself. Sonic loves to move fast, who doesn’t? There’s just a problem, he doesn’t get much of a chance to do just that, because you usually have an enemy right in his path who you’ll bump into and lose all your rings. This can be pretty bothersome, but admittedly it’s not the worst thing (that would be the aforementioned special stages issue), but it is an annoyance all the same.

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Super Sonic Mode

There’s also the platforming that needs to be addressed, while Sonic is able to hop around platforms alright, Super Sonic is a nightmare at times. He is as slippery as butter, especially at Wing Fortress. A major issue is that you are forced to transform once you collect 50 rings after a mere jump, you have to lose all your rings to avoid doing so but it’d be much better if you could either use a different button to transform (or just hit the jump button a second time in the air), or have the option to return to normal and retain your rings.

Another minor issue though this is solved anyway but is one that existed in the game’s design; I’m not fond of having to play the game all in one go. I grew up with games with save files, I can’t imagine playing a game where if you have to leave or take a long break, you’ll have to leave the system on or be forced to shut the system off. This however is fixed in two ways anyway, one in the actual game where you can use the level select cheat via the sound test, but not everyone would’ve known this especially in the early nineties. The second, which is by far the best thing about this version of the game and you will be so thankful it exists, is the use of save states. Save states truly saved the game for me… no pun intended. This is so useful in many ways, but most of all in the special stages where you can save at any point in them, even to the very ring spot. Trust me I used this feature to the fullest and I am so thankful for it. I honestly would not have beaten the game without it.

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Ring Keeper Mode, along with the Pause Menu

The 3DS version does add a Stage Select option in the bottom screen menu you can access from the start of the game (handy for returning players). As well as a Ring Keeper mode that gives you 10 rings at the beginning of each act and cuts your ring loss in half instead of losing them all. This mode can actually indeed make things a lot easier for you, particularly when going after special stages or trying to collect enough rings to become Super Sonic. Though save states when used right arguably do the job better; save when you collect rings, if you get hit, revert to said save instantly. It really depends on what you need it for, or if you even want to use save states. Options are always welcome of course. The CRT mode allows you to give the graphics a color-bleeding, blurry appearance in addition to curving the outer corners of the screen, as if you were playing on a real CRT television. You actually are able to use the 3D to view it like it was in a curved screen, but again it depends how much value you see in that.

The game also allows you to unlock Super Sonic Mode by beating the game without getting all the emeralds. At the beginning of each act you’re given 50 rings so you can just jump once and turn into Super Sonic straight away. This is handy because as mentioned the special stages are quite a handful, and they’re far easier to access just as long as you don’t wait too long and your ring count goes below 50 when being Super Sonic. It’s up to you if you want to beat the game in the old fashioned way, which is what I did. I was determined to play it as close as possible to how it was designed to be played, but I could not handle the lack of saving and the other issues I need not bring up again hence the use of save states.

In conclusion, understandably most of the review has been focusing on the game itself, rather than the 3DS version itself. The real question is for those who played the game at some point on other systems would be; “is the 3DS version worth it?”. The answer to that question is; it comes down to if you’ve had issues with the game and if you want to put up with them again, use the options available, or if you find that the issues are too off-putting to work with again. Really the port offers nothing amazing or grand for returning players other than the save states which will make replays far easier. And the aforementioned native resolution makes the game on a graphical front an attractive incentive. Of course there’s also the portability and the use of actual buttons compared to the mobile version for example.

As for me, honestly despite the annoyances I’ve had, I enjoyed my time with the game. The port is most attractive to me due to the native-resolution, save states, and the general portability of it. The port served my needs perfectly. So the answer to me is yes, it is worth it. However if these benefits don’t interest you and/or you’ve gotten your fill already, then no, it’s likely not worth playing yet again. I am personally hoping we’ll see 3D Sonic 3 and 3D Sonic & Knuckles as soon as possible on the 3DS eShop. Sonic 3 & Knuckles being the one I did play the most by far in Sonic Mega Collection (though again mostly in debug mode, I gave up playing it legit at, where else, the drum).

You’ll Love:
+ Save states, you’ll be so thankful for them.
+ The visuals really are a sight to behold with the sprites, colors, and native resolution making the game look super clean.
+ It feels like you’re playing a real Genesis/Mega Drive game on the go, kinda like the Sega Nomad, but not nearly as heavy or power-consuming.
+ The music is of course great to listen to.
+ When you go fast, it is fun to do and see.
+ Super Sonic is awesome, when you’re able to use him to his fullest.

You’ll Hate:
Tails in the special stages doesn’t co-operate, he’s the real hazard in them.
Going fast is a blessing and a curse, you’ll bump into many enemies unless you take it slow, which kind of defeats the purpose don’t you think?
Super Sonic is like butter, do not use him if you’re focusing on very specific platforming sections.
3D and other features such as a CRT-style mode don’t add a whole lot, it’s more of a “meh” point than a hate point, but it’s still worth mentioning.

UPDATE: Mario & Sonic Rio 2016 out in Japan on Feb 18 2016, Rosalina, Ludwig von Koopa, and Dry Bones confirmed

Mario & Sonic Rio 2016 3DS Japanese Box

UPDATE: Just found a small Japanese trailer for the 3DS version on Nintendo’s JP Youtube channel.

What IS going on with the Wii U version? Maybe it is just a bit delayed, or being moved to the NX, we’ll find out I guess.

ORIGINAL: Here it is! Japanese box of the 3DS version, which now adds DK and Amy to the mix, and also new screens that confirm Rosalina, Ludwig von Koopa, and Dry Bones are in the game as playable characters.

Amazon Japan only shows the 3DS version at the moment, as we know, the game is also due on Wii U and it’s also coming out on arcades in Spring 2016. We also see a reconfirmation of amiibo support for the game. Nintendo’s Japanese twitter account also confirms the date alongside a fuller piece of artwork, complete with Sticks, and a horse!

M&S Rio 2016 Twitter Artwork

Here are all the screens from Amazon below:

So what are your thoughts on the game thus far? Any character you’re excited to play as if you get the game? Which version in particular? Let us know in the comments!

(Update: It’s $5.99) 3D Sonic the Hedgehog 2 landing on 3DS eShop in NA on Oct 8th

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Update: Nintendo has added the game to its website and like the other games in the Sega 3D Classics line it’s $5.99!

Well, it’s a little later than planned (they just said September), but not by that much. 😛

Sega of America confirmed today on twitter that the game is finally coming out at least in NA on October 8th, after having already been released in Japan back on July 22nd.

The 3DS version actually has a wireless co-op multiplayer feature where one player is Sonic, and the other is an invincible version of Tails to assist Sonic in the game, basically like you did on the TV back in the day. You’re also able to save at anytime and can now more easily unlock Super Sonic just by beating the game on any mode, which gives Sonic all the chaos emeralds when the feature is turned on.

Sadly at the moment there’s no release date yet for Europe.

HoL’s Musings: Was maybe an artificial extension of the Nintendo deal made?

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I’ve decided to rename my The Spin articles into HoL’s Musings, it’s a title I came up with on my own site, and I think this will help differentiate them from The Spin which I think is more Hogfather’s own thing and make it more my own, let me know what you think!

Continue reading HoL’s Musings: Was maybe an artificial extension of the Nintendo deal made?

LBX: Little Battlers eXperience on 3DS has a mission called “Gotta Go Fast”

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Memes so strong even your greatest rival references them! The newly released 3DS game LBX, developed by Level-5 (makers of Professor Layton, Fantasy Life, and the Japanese phenomenon Yo-Kai Watch) and localized and published by Nintendo, has a mission in the game with that all-so-familiar phrase.

LBX is a customizable robot fighting game that can be compared to franchises like Medabots and Nintendo’s own Custom Robo series (hell it’s not far from Sega’s Virtual-On series either).

It may not be via amiibo support (which the game doesn’t support, hell the thing came out in Japan in 2012 on 3DS, and is a port of a PSP game from the year prior in 2011, yeah :P), but it’s still humorous that Nintendo would throw that in there. It’s not the first time either that they threw in memes of competitors, Pokemon Diamond and Pearl referenced the terrifying, delicious, and apparently historically accurate Giant Enemy Crabs and them being prone to receiving Massive Damage in their weakpoints.

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(To be fair, would you bat an eyelash if that meme didn’t exist? Likely not.)

Anyway, there you have it!

May as well just clarify as not everyone knows the meme, the meme Gotta Go Fast originates from the 4Kids dub of Sonic X and its opening features that lyric. 🙂 Guess it just took awhile to catch on. 😛

Huge thanks to Fandangox at NeoGAF for snapping the pic on top. 🙂

First footage of Sonic in Super Mario Maker

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q9DZCDDo7CY

Following the first-look at his sprite in the game yesterday, we now have a bit of video footage of him in the game (skip to 2:26), here you can see it’s definitely the Sonic 1 sprite, and also when he runs, he spins!

And yes, even Pokemon are in! Why does it feel like Pokemon are now a bigger shock than Sonic?

To clarify, these outfits do not require amiibo, you can unlock them by completing the 100-Mario Challenges in the game.

Sonic costume confirmed for Super Mario Maker on Wii U

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As was long awaited since the confirmation of amiibos being supported in the game, allowing you to unlock the costumes of the corresponding amiibo (though they aren’t required, just an easy way to unlock them if you have them on hand), we now have confirmation from the Super Mario Maker Miiverse community that Sonic’s costume does exist, and will finally let you play as Sonic in a Mario game for the first time in history.

What’s really bizarre is that it appears to be Sonic’s Sonic 1 sprite… which is 16-bit. All costumes are meant to be 8-bit and only usable in the SMB1-style levels. You’d think they’d have possibly picked Sonic’s sprite from Sonic Pocket Adventure, his only 8-bit appearance in the Modern-era in 8-bit form.

Super Mario Maker arrives on Wii U on September 10 in Japan, September 11 in NA and EU, and on September 12 in Australia.

Thank you Nintendo Everything and GoNintendo for the find.

M&S Rio 2016 Arcade Edition out in Spring 2016 in Japan

M&S Rio 2016 Arcade Edition

Famitsu put up a new post about the game (which Perfectly Nintendo translated), and also Sega opened up the official website for the game.

It mostly just shows screenshots that were in a poster for the locatests mentioned before, and most importantly that the Arcade Edition actually has a release period set for Spring 2016 in Japan. Could we see the Wii U and 3DS versions at the same time? Only time will tell. As a note, Sega are developing and publishing the Arcade Edition, but Nintendo is publishing the Wii U and 3DS versions worldwide.

Screenshots are below as well as another look at the arcade machines:

First Look at M&S Rio 2016 Arcade Edition

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As said in the previous report, Sega are holding locatests from the 17th through the 20th at Club SEGA Akihabara and SEGA World Kasai, and so we have a peek at the game from 4Gamer with translations thanks to Perfectly Nintendo! Naturally info isn’t final and only refers to the current build they’re showing.

So we have 8 characters so far; Mario Luigi, Peach, Wario, Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, and Shadow, and of course each are of one of three types (Power, Speed, and Balanced), with Mario as Balance and Sonic as Speed, no way! We have four sports shown; 100 metres, Hammer Throw, Javelin Throw, and Archery.

Now comes the Arcade bits; one credit costs 200 yen ($2 more or less), which allows you to play 3 sports and you’ll get the results at the end of the 3, and you can play with another person in local multiplayer here, and if you both pick different sports, they will be chosen randomly.

Controls are as follows; Your feet for events where you need to run. Two joysticks with a Start Button on the side. And a handrail to balance yourself while running for example.

We also have info on the sports shown;

  • 100 metres – You use the stick to launch yourself before you start running and at the end you have to time a jump.
  • Hammer Throw – Press a button to hold the hammer, then you use the sticks to rotate the hammer, and then then you stop pressing the button at the right time to throw it.
  • Javelin Throw – You start by running and use the right stick to control the angle of your throw.
  • Archery – You have to throw arrows at nine targets, with more points awarded the closer the arrows are to the center of the targets. You use the left stick to aim, and use the right stick to use the bow to shoot the arrows. The trajectory is determined by how long you take to draw your arrows as well as weather conditions such as wind.

We also have photos of the locatest (sadly none are direct-feed) from both $Gamer as well as Inside Games that show off what the machine looks like and a small glimpse of how the game looks:

As usual the game on Wii U and 3DS is due in 2016, and no date of any sorts was given for the Arcade Edition at the moment.

Mario & Sonic Rio 2016 also heading to… Arcades?

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Yeah, didn’t expect that did you?

That’s what gamer.ne.jp is reporting (translated by Perfectly Nintendo), the game in some form will indeed be heading to Arcades, the announcement was from Sega and while we don’t have any info at the moment about the game, next week Sega will hold what are called locatests (which are beta tests for Arcade machines) on July 17th-July 20th at Club SEGA Akihabara and SEGA World Kasai. No release date was given for the Arcade version, which right now is titled Mario & Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games Arcade Edition, and no updates on the Wii U and 3DS version’s release date were provided either, which are due in 2016.

What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments below!

3D Sonic the Hedgehog 2 releases on July 22nd in Japan for the 3DS eShop

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So now we finally have news about 3D Sonic 2 after its announcement back in April!

We have the Japanese website, and thanks to Nintendaan, we have the info that the game will support co-op play, but each player will need the game.

Nintendaan was also kind enough to record the trailer and snap the screenshots from the eShop page as seen below!

3D Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is set to release on July 22nd on the 3DS eShop in Japan for 864 yen.

Nintendo’s president Satoru Iwata has passed away (1959 – 2015)

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I can not believe what I’m typing at this second.

But it’s true, straight from Nintendo’s website via a PDF file, Nintendo’s president Satoru Iwata, who was the successor to Hiroshi Yamauchi in 2002 (who also recently passed on back on September 19 2013), has passed away on July 11th after battling an illness involving a “bile duct growth”.

Last year, Iwata was found to have had a growth in his body that he underwent surgery for back over a year ago, as said on Polygon in the link from then:

“In general, it is said that a bile duct growth can be difficult-to-treat, partly because of the difficulty of detecting it early. In my case, luckily, it was detected very early and I had no symptoms,” Iwata wrote. “I was counseled that removal at an early stage would be the desirable medical option. Therefore I had surgery last week, and I came through it well, as predicted.”

This is also shocking due to Iwata having been present at the shareholders meeting just weeks ago on June 26th. As far as I knew, there was no sign of anything severe. 🙁

As for what does this have to do with Sonic? Iwata was among other things, the one who gave the world-exclusive announcement of the 3-game exclusivity deal of Sonic back on May 17th 2013 in a Nintendo Direct, a series of presentations of which he was the creator of.

Regardless, Iwata was a huge part of leading Nintendo into their greatest successes with the Nintendo DS and later the Wii, and always had a motto of putting quality and his workers above all else. He even took a personal pay cut, twice, when things were looking down.

On behalf of Sonic Stadium, I thank you Satoru Iwata for helping make Nintendo what it is today, and helping bring so many great games to us, and may you rest in peace :'( I’m still in utter shock. 🙁

Mario & Sonic Rio 2016 3DS box from Nintendo’s Swedish site shows amiibo support

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Found at Nintendo’s Swedish website, we have the box art for the 3DS version and it seems to confirm that the game at least on 3DS will feature amiibo support (naturally the Wii U version will likely support amiibo as well). I think most expected this anyway. 😛 Major thanks to MoldyClay 64 on twitter for finding out about this in the first place!

Mario & Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games will release on Wii U and 3DS sometime in 2016.

Sticks jumps into the modern Sonic world in Rio 2016 Olympic Games

Sticks in Rio 2016

Thanks to the eagle eyes of Katie Britt on twitter and SuperSonic772 in our comments section, it has been found in a new trailer for the game (seen at the 0:48 mark) that Sticks is now welcomed into the modern world, now would this be “canon” as they’re technically in the real world(?) olympics is up for debate. 😛 But this marks her debut outside the Boom spin-off series! it’s not official if she is indeed playable or not, we’ll do a follow-up when we find out. HUGE thanks to both Katie Britt and SuperSonic772 for the find!

See the trailer below (it’s mostly just recycled footage from the debut trailer, with the bit with Sticks and a boxing match between Mario and Bowser at the end) below:

Mario & Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games will release on Wii U and 3DS sometime in 2016.

Mario & Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games E3 Screenshots, releases in 2016

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Nintendo’s E3 2015 Digital Event has come and gone, and while Rio 2016 had no presence in it, Nintendo opened an E3 2015 press site (as they do every year) and put up new screenshots and a fact sheet of the game, and as GameFly noted earlier, Nintendo is officially confirmed to be the publisher in at least NA, and surprisingly, the game is actually due next year in 2016 claims the fact sheet, presumably for both versions (it just says 2016 with no version specified).

See the new screens of Wii U version and a couple from the 3DS version below: