Party game Nippon Marathon promises a hilariously good time racing characters in wacky costumes
Run across Japan-inspired maps while avoiding deadly obstacles like umbrellas and flying pineapples.
Japan is a wonderful place, filled with delicious food, beautiful scenery, and a surprising amount of little things that, together, make it a pleasant place to visit. And yet, Japan can also be a pretty eccentric place, where strange things happen, like the Sailor Suit Old Man. Typically questions of “Why?” to these things are answered with, “Because Japan,” because honestly, we really don’t know why.
For those who love the “Because Japan” aspects of Japanese popular culture, there’s a game to encapsulate Japan’s eccentricities: Nippon Marathon. With a range of strange characters inspired by anime and celebrities, maps emulating Japanese places, and a wacky, colorful art style, Nippon Marathon could be set to dethrone the long-reining Katamari Damacy as the weirdest and funniest Japan-style game in town.
Nippon Marathon is intended to be a local multiplayer party game; in fact, though solo playing is supported, the game is pretty exclusively marketed for play with your friends. Players choose from one of eight characters in funny costumes, including “Lobster-man J DARWIN, onesie-obsessive Elizabeth Nishibori, school uniform fan Zenbei “Xen Bae” and the completely normal Snuguru Maestro”, according to the Steam page.
Four players at a time race against each other across maps inspired by real life Japanese places, like shrines, mountaintops, city streets, and villages, navigating through a chaotic world of ridiculous obstacles like fishmongers carrying enormous, face-slapping fish; glass walls; and rolling barrels. The pratfalls are based on real-life physics, so there’s no cheating the obstacles; if you hit one, you’re going down! It looks like faceplanting and falling into rivers is a pretty common occurrence, so be prepared to laugh at each other!
During the race, players can jump and dive to avoid obstacles, and can pick up fruit along the way that can either up their speed or be lobbed at opponents to slow them down.
Nippon Marathon is also full of surprises: you might be in the lead but get swarmed by a pack of wild shibas, or on the other hand you could be fast enough to be the only one to catch the elevator. You never know what’s going to happen, and that’s part of the fun. Plus, there are mini-games that randomly pop up, like sentence mad-libs and slot spins, which could shake up the rankings. There’s never a dull moment in Nippon Marathon!
An indie game, and the first game developed by U.S.-based Onion Soup Interactive, Nippon Marathon is now available in early access format on Steam for US$8.49. At the moment you can only play four characters on four courses, and only on PC, but the early access mode is designed so that players can try it out and provide real feedback to the creators. The full version of the game is scheduled to be released in fall, and it is said that it will be available for Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.
It looks like a crazy game that’s some kind of mix between Mario Party and Mario Kart. You can be a part of the testing group, or wait until it’s available for all consoles in fall, but either way Nippon Marathon going to be an uproariously good time. Much better, probably, than playing Trap Adventure 2, which will likely have your friends in stitches, while you will want to throw your phone at the wall.