GAME TECH: Mobile game is tapping in to Olympic dreams

Rio 2016 is a game that anyone would enjoy.

OLYMPIC testing is pretty strict, so it’s no surprise that the official Rio 2016 mobile game follows suit. The only problem? It’s your patience that’s being tested.

Rio 2016 is actually a pretty fun game, but — just like the real thing — it has stringent requirements for participation. For example, this reviewer was forced to create a Google Plus account in order to play, something that, like long distance walking events, could prove a step too far for many players. In addition, “stamina”, which allows you to play events, only regenerates every 30 minutes, so patience becomes the difference between Olympian and limping out.

Still, if you can look past those irritations, Rio 2016 is a fun game that will cost you nothing to play. There are six events in this budget-sized Olympics — football, tennis, archery, skeet, table tennis, and basketball. You might be surprised by the lack of athletics and track and field, but this is a very good choice by the developers. All the events featured are based on precision and timing, meaning there’s an element of skill to each of them. On a smartphone, the 100m sprint would only devolve into tapping your finger as quickly as possible, like a teacher waiting for a test to finish, whereas archery and tennis involve some co-ordination. For example, in the football event, you take free kicks at the goal by swiping your finger in the direction you want to shoot. However, at the last second you can apply swerve to the ball, which can be the difference between beating the keeper or sending it wide. In tennis, you again swipe to hit the ball, but this time there are coloured sections of the court to hit, plus hitting the ball at the right moment adds power. In archery, you hold your finger down to aim the arrow and let go to loose the arrow, but the bow doesn’t stay steady as you aim and wind speed changes the flight considerations. In skeet you tap on the flying targets as they zoom across the screen, coming from all directions. In table tennis you use your finger to move the bat and return the ball, while in basketball you swipe upwards to carefully score point after point – all the while the hoop moves from left to right.

Each of these games is nothing special or unique, but they are enjoyable. What makes them even more fun are the other players. While there are AI players and bots to play against, you’ll mostly be competing with other human players, whose name and nationality (and sometimes picture) appear on the screen. It’s strangely gratifying to hear the Irish national anthem play when you win gold against User23423525 from South Korea in a game of imaginary skeet.

The better you become at events, the higher your rank goes in that event, and the tougher the events and opposition become. This online, multiplayer element of Rio 2016 really makes the difference. It will keep you coming back for more because whatever level you play at should always present stiff and unpredictable human competition from all over the world.

Rio 2016 isn’t all a free ride — if you want extra stamina (which, remember, is used to enter events) then you can’t just visit a dodgy doctor like any self-respecting obsessive. Instead, you have to pay for that extra stamina, or wait the allotted 30 minutes for a recharge. Even worse, there are “pebbles” you can buy for a 5% increase in charge meters, which allow you an advantage in the events. It’s like the people who made this (officially licenced) game are blatantly endorsing quick-fixes that give you crucial boosts in performance. Erm.

Still, at least the game isn’t buggy. Unsurprisingly, they did a good job testing it.

Waiting for ‘Sky’ over

GAME TECH: Mobile game is tapping in to Olympic dreams

Speaking of testing patience, the long wait for No Man’s Sky ended yesterday when the space-faring epic got its release. A day one patch addressed many issues with the game, including the creation of three “paths” players can take through the story and the modification of algorithms that now make galaxies up to 10 times larger, planets more diverse, and make it harder to reach the centre of the universe. We can’t wait to find some planetary rings, to complement the Olympic kind.

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