Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games has been an interesting series. We get one every four years, and they always serve up a fun time, that should be played alongside family members, but they don’t often improve on the last iteration and largely play it safe.
Mario and Sonic At The Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 does a lot to try and break away from former games in the series. It’s still very fun to pickup and play, and serves as a great introduction to those who aren’t necessarily hardcore gamers, but there’s actually quite a bit there for the single player gamer too. The story mode in particular is more than serviceable. Mario and Sonic are sucked into a Virtual Boy type device, and Luigi, Tails and a loveable cast of characters are tasked with rescuing them from Bowser and Doctor Eggman (who have also been sucked into this 2D world). Naturally, Mario and Sonic find out that they only way for them to escape is by winning lots of medals at the Tokyo ’64 games.
As far as the story mode goes, it’s full of charm and a lot of love and care has been put into it. You traverse between the 3D world (which is set in 2020) and the 2D world (which is suitably set in 1964). You’ll find yourself visiting some of Tokyo’s hottest sights plus all of the sporting venues that you’ll find in Tokyo for the upcoming Olympics. You can fully explore each area, talking to a number of characters and finding out tips about the Olympics. I got over the random tips and conversations that the story mode throws at you fairly quickly, but I can actually see it being quite education for young ones playing the game.
The events themselves are quite fun, but my major gripe with the story mode is that there is a lot of mucking around in between them. If you’re invested in the story line (and there are a few clever gags along the way), then it’s fine, but there’s a lot of chatter and running between venues to fill up time between the incredibly short burst events. There’s actually a bit of challenge there, which is surprising for a game like this, and it’s definitely a welcomed addition to the franchise.
The story really excels when it puts you through custom story events, that are specific to the story mode. These include things like climbing a massive tower, or chasing after Bowser in a speed boat as 2D Mario. They’re absolutely excellent, and I wish that there could have been more of these throughout the story. The 2D events are absolutely fantastic. The old-school sprites are adorable and whilst the 10 or so events are quite literally button mashers, they serve as a delightful, nostalgic throwback to the original Nintendo days. It’s pretty damn impressive that the team were able to come up with a way to make these fit into the story that actually work as well.
All in all, there’s about 30 regular events, plus the 10 2D events and a handful of the previously mentioned story and dream events, so there’s a lot here to sink your teeth into. What stands out is the variety in events. It’s no easy feat to build a game that has sports such as track and field, swimming, skate boarding, table tennis, horse riding and many, many other, and the majority of them play flawlessly.
In terms of control options, the team has done a great job in catering to those that want to use motion controls or stick to the standard controls. Obviously, it’s worth trying out every event with motion controls, and if you’re playing with a larger group, that’ll be way more fun to watch, but there is enough depth here that you can actually give yourself a challenge at the hardest difficulty with standard controls.
There’s multiple difficulty levels, a bunch of trophies that you can earn and online leaderboards, so even if you’re playing alone, there’s a decent amount to complete before you’ll be putting it down. There’s a lot of polish in the title, and it would have been really easy for the developers to push out something that’s substandard in order to get the job done, but that’s definitely not the case.
THE NINTENDO SWITCH VERSION OF THIS GAME WAS PLAYED FOR THE PURPOSE OF THIS REVIEW. A DIGITAL REVIEW CODE WAS PROVIDED BY THE PUBLISHER.
Mario And Sonic At The Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 is a fun collection of games that absolutely anybody can enjoy. The story mode is delightful, although a little bit tedious and repetitive, but doesn't detract from what is otherwise, a nice package.