It has been written in the Digital Tech Bible that every major event existeth not if it hath not its own official game or app (well, it has not been written but we sort of think it must be!), so it is hardly surprising that the Rio Olympic Games have their own array of apps, official and otherwise. And of course, they have an official game, which has been rather predictably and a trifle staidly titled Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
Honestly, though, we think they could have just as well titled it “Stick Olympics,” as most of the sports covered in it seem to derive their gameplay from titles from the folks at Stick Sports, who are behind iconic games like Stick Tennis, Stick Soccer and are best known in India for their super casual, super addictive take on the Gentleman’s Game, Stick Cricket. But to get back to basics, the game is available as a free download on iOS and Android. We tested it out on the iPhone 6s Plus and well, our feelings are largely mixed.
The game covers six Olympic sports – tennis, table tennis, archery, skeet shooting, football and basketball. You get to choose the country you want to represent (you can change it once without coughing up in digital coinage which can be purchased or earned – welcome to the in-app purchase world, fellas). The app does take the liberty of trying to choose its interface based on your region, which can be a tad odd – we ended up with a Hindi UI and for a minute were stumped on how to change it (instructions sounded a little muddled in it). Changing nationality to Brit did not change matters and finally we had to get into settings to get into an English interface. You can choose your ID and name too and can log in from Facebook if in the mood.
Right, that sorted out, we were into the Let The Games Begin Mode. And well, all six are simple and short. You enter each sport in the semi-final stage and are assured at least two matches – one in the semis, and one for the gold or the bronze, depending on how well you fared in the aforementioned semis. All games are basically about tapping and swiping at the right time – in tennis and table tennis, you tap and swipe in the direction of your shot; in football and basketball, you swipe towards your goal or basket; and in archery and skeet, you tap at the appropriate time to unleash an arrow or bullet. An interesting touch is that in each case, you will be facing a real player and will not be playing against the phone. That’s good, because it adds an element of unpredictability. And that’s bad, because you cannot play the game without a data connection.
None of the games are particularly long or difficult- you should end up with your medal in about five minutes, and if you win gold, well, the game will play your country’s national anthem (we had to put up with “God Save the Queen” as we were not in the mood to hand out digital coinage). Stamina is limited, so to keep playing, you will need to keep stacking up by purchases or viewing videos. Winning the gold medal moves you up a level adding a few elements of difficulty. Which is not a bad thing really as the gameplay itself struck us as being too simple and occasionally seemed in contravention of the basic rules – you were only getting one pointers in regular basketball and in tennis, your opponent could serve fault after fault without any call from the umpire. Yes, there are power ups but they are not too easy to figure out. We actually only liked the archery sport as it involved some tricky decision making and gauging wind movement, even though that too at times felt eccentric.
So let’s cut to the chase: should you bother downloading Rio 2016 Olympic Games? Well, honestly, that depends on the sort of gamer you are. If you are the super casual types that wants games with negligible learning curves and want to get moved by national anthem renditions and Olympian themes, go right ahead. However, if you have played your share of games on your phone and are looking for even a slightly immersive experience, we would advise steering clear. Playing Stick Soccer or Stick Tennis is way more satisfying.