Rio: review

  • Format: PS3 (version reviewed),360,Wii,DS
  • Unleashed: Out Now
  • Publisher: THQ
  • Developer: Eurocom
  • Players: 1-4 (offline only)
  • Site: http://www.riovideogame.com/

  • Although Rio the movie features plenty of birds, only one of them seems to be particularly angry; presumably because he’s called Nigel (yes, really). With the Rio version of Angry Birds seeming to be little more than an excuse to sell the same (admittedly excellent) game yet again, can this game – built from the ground up – encourage gamers to flock to stores to buy it?

    We don’t want to ruffle your feathers with the inevitable barrage of puns, so don’t get in a flap. Okay, that’s out of our collective system now. Let’s get down to business; Rio the game, while not strictly speaking slipping into the skin of an established franchise, will be immediately familiar to many. Think Mario Party with a funky, embarrassingly infectious carnival soundtrack. Yes – it’s a minigame collection.

    Despite featuring no traditionally structured levels, there is a ‘Story’ mode. Here, the story is (in theory) told to you via characters Breaking The Fourth Wall between minigames (played in sets of three) and clips from the movie. In practice however, if you haven’t seen the film then you’re not going to have a clue what’s going on. The characters’ references to names and places often presume that you’ve learned of them elsewhere. The good news is that, unlike a lot of cheap kid’s movie tie in tat, actual film clips are used here. The bad news is that most are just a few seconds long, and all seem to be missing the original soundtrack. While they’re no good for storytelling, they’ve certainly made us interested in watching the movie – which, at the end of the day, is all they’re really there for.

    All you do here is press 'X' when the music stops. It's (a bit) more fun than it sounds.

    If you’re playing alone, then Story will probably be your first port of call. As the narrative is broken and disjointed, your enjoyment will rest solely on the games themselves; sit at the top of the table at the end of each (t)rio of minigames, and you’ll be allowed to continue to the next three. If not, you’re unceremoniously dumped back at the title screen. Big question is: will you want to see the next set of games?

    Answer: sort of. The fact is that, so far as minigames that are actually fun to play goes, Rio has a much higher hit rate than most similar collections. Four of the five play modes give you no choice in which games you play or in which order you play them however, and Story is one of them. You’ll have to endure the tedious (of which there are probably just two) with the ‘okay’ and the ‘fun’. In addition, there are four players in each game – and the CPU players which fill in for any missing humans tend to be frustratingly good on any difficulty other than Easy. Playing the same three games over and over again gets old very quickly.

    ‘Carnaval Wheel’ mode adds an extra frustration, as the wheel is spun twice before each game (once to decide what the game is, once to decide how many points it’s worth) – which is unskippable, even when it’s the CPU’s turn. In all fairness however, Rio was clearly designed from day one primarily as a multiplayer game. Get one person or more to join you, and the experience improves significantly. Most of the games are just as much about hindering your opponents as they are about helping yourself; which is so much better with somebody you can cajole or subtly help sat next to you.

    Multiplayer gamers are best sent straight to ‘Party’ mode. Here you can choose from every minigame (there are just over 40) and set how many to play, in which order, whether it’s two teams or every bird for themselves, and even whether or not you’d like two ‘quiz’ questions to answer after each game. Each question is about either Brazil, or Rio the movie. The problem is, many of the questions aren’t friendly to kids (how many six year olds will know Säo Paulo is the most populous city in Brazil?) or people who haven’t seen the film. They are at least optional rather than compulsory, and it’s a good way to make adults feel superior.

    Each game is simple and well explained, easy to jump straight in to for kids and even Big Brother fans. Our favourite for sheer comedy value is monkey bowling (okay they’re marmosets, but still). Bowl over lines of monkeys! There are a few lightgun-style games that would’ve benefited from Move compatibility on PS3, but are still fun. One, with its city setting and quick-pan camera, is oddly reminiscent of House of the Dead…

    Success in one game where fruit is thrown at you from the foreground seems to be more down to luck than anything else, and another where you (slowly) climb up a wall avoiding rolling snowballs we found to be especially tedious and frustrating. On the other hand, the minigame where you fly over the beach dropping fruit onto monkeys (marmosets) is sure to amuse adults more than it could ever amuse kids – because it’s easy to imagine that instead of dropping fruit, the birds are doing poos. Hee hee hee, we’re so grown up! Ahem.

    With the bright colours, previously mentioned carnival music, hectic gameplay and multitude of pickups, Rio is permeated with a party atmosphere. This proves to be a double edged sword, however. With so much going on on-screen, we found that it was easy for veteran gamers and keen-eyed kids alike to briefly – but regularly – lose track of their character or cursor in many of the games.

    Rio is fun in short bursts, but caters to a very specific audience. If you have kids who have fallen in love with the world of Rio the movie, then they’ll have a lot of fun with Rio the game, and you’ll have fun playing with them. If there are no Rio fans in the house however, your money will be better spent elsewhere.

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    Written by Luke K

    Luke plays lots of videogames, now and again stopping to write about them. He’s the editor in chief at Critical Gamer, which fools him into thinking his life has some kind of value. Chances are, if you pick up a copy of the latest Official PlayStation Magazine or GamesMaster, you’ll find something he’s written in there.

    Luke doesn’t have a short temper. If you suggest otherwise, he will punch you in the face.

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