When it comes to uniting for a common goal, a push to unite under one single cause, Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 is the sixth in the series and the first one for us to truly review. So here’s what we thought after a month in Tokyo with Mario, Sonic, and their friends.
+Unites both the best of the 8-bit era and modern gaming
+Game modes are all easy to learn and rather fun to play
+Absolutely fun multiplayer modes that make for a great party game
-Dialogue can get a bit long-winded from time to time
When it comes to the series, I’m a newbie. I’ve never really taken a chance to dive into the Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games entries for the span of their past six entries. I’ve heard great things, however, and as of recent, I’ve finally had a chance to enter the Olympic Games thanks to two of histories most famed gaming icons: Sonic and Mario themselves.
The dynamic duo and their seemingly unlikely match-up have been absent for quite some time, giving us a bit of reason to begin to worry, some of us having begun to wonder if the series had been given up on and the spirit of the Olympic Games having somehow gone into retirement.
Sure enough, however, they are back, and this time the dynamic duo, as you might have guessed from above, are celebrating the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 in their very own way. A mini-game mirth on the Nintendo Switch. It’s the sixth entry in the series, and the very first for us here at Blast Away the Game Review to, well, review.
Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games 2020 is actually a delight and it’s hard not to want to play
As you would expect from a game that heavily draws upon its real-world inspirations, Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games 2020 is a mini-game affair, one filled to the brim with sporting events such as Rugby, Karate, Skateboarding, Surfing, Track and field, as well as various other sports to enjoy.
The modes are, well, rather fun and they are sure to entertain for hours to come. There are even other modes that come bundled with the game, which include Surfing, Skateboarding, and of course, 10 retro-styled 2D events under the heading Tokyo 1964. This retro mode, is well, just as you would expect: Retro.
Just as you would expect, all games do require a sense of button mashing or understanding of basic controls to advanced mechanics the further in you go. Games like Sport Climbing will have you button mashing fast enough you’re pretty sure you had channeled your inner Hungrybox or Mew2King in order to complete the competition.
Those of you that enjoy games like Konami’s classic 1983 title Track & Field. You’ll find yourself tapping “A” as quick as you can in order to go, both in 8-bit, 16-bit, and even modern-day graphics. That being said, you can imagine how far back this game actually goes, what aspirations it actually has, and just how strong the roster actually is.
You’ll get to choose characters from both franchises including Silver Sonic, Doctor Robotnik, Princess Peach, and even the iconic duo themselves – Mario & Luigi. The roster is massive and by massive, there are 20 characters to choose from for any event you play and each of them comes with their very own stats and abilities. Sadly, when you play the retro-style events, you only get to choose from eight classic characters.
The retro-events, as you might guess, are basic as they are inspired by the older days of gaming. Days where you didn’t have two trigger buttons, two bumper buttons, and more than two face buttons to use. It’s harmless fun, but it’s fun none-the-less, and the challenge itself shows itself in various different forms. Oh, don’t forget to check the menus, you can turn on a nifty little filter aka the ‘analogue TV filer’ that makes the games actually look like they are right from the era they were designed to look like.
The story, while fun, isn’t the highlight of the game
In our story, we get to see the return of two villainous jokesters looking to sabotage the Olympic Games. Like always, Bowser and Robotnik are up to no good, mostly involving Robotnik activating a device that sent our group of four back to the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games, forcing them to work their way through each and every sport that they can.
In order to get home, Sonic, Mario, Bowser, and Dr. Robotnik must do their best, placing in the Olympic Games as they work their way through time and hopefully find a way home all-the-while. Their being stuck in Tokyo 64 doesn’t work as they would hope, forcing them to undertake their adventures through the various 1964 Olympics events in order to try and earn gold medals, which as stated, should theoretically provide them with the power they need in order to escape Dr. Robotnik’s seemingly devious trap.
The story is also split into the modern era where Tails, Luigi, Amy, and friends are working together in order to get their pals out of trouble alongside help of various other figures from their respected franchises in order to get their pals back into the 2020 Olympic events as well. The entire ordeal shoehorns into a runoff where you’ll be undertaking an Olympic adventure throughout both eras of the games.
It’s entertaining and all, but it does get long-winded and for those with kids, it can get almost too long for them if they are just learning to read.
The staying power is that it works as a party game
One thing that’s nice is that the games staying power isn’t what you would actually think it is. The game has a lot of staying power due to its ability to work as a party game. With over 20 modes to choose from, 30 if you count the 1964 modes, and you have a lot working in your favor.
There’s something for everyone no matter what sport they prefer. Want to race horses? You can do that with the Equestrian events. Want to enjoy Karate? There’s two modes for that and the latter of the two (Dream Karate) feels like it drew almost all its inspiration from the Mario Party franchise, which is an absolute blast.
For many, it can also be the fact that this is simply a game meant to bring people together, much as the Olympics do, and have them compete across the various sporting events that will be put before them regardless of what their preferred event actually is. Unfortunately, outside of the Story Mode, there’s not a lot to do when you are alone.
Sure, you can go online, but that even grows problematic at the end of the day. This is strictly multiplayer affair in the long run. Not that that is a bad thing, but it makes it not for everyone and from what I’ve seen of the past games, there are a few missing features, which saw you customizing your athletes to some extent.
Controls are simple enough that anyone can play
One of the things that’s nice about this game is that it’s actually rather user friendly. Control schemes are rather simple, often requiring movement of the thumbsticks, a bump of L/R or ZL/ZR, or tapping buttons in a specific order in order to play through each of the modes.
The simplest one comes in the shape of Fencing, which will simply see players using the left thumbstick to move back and forth, using the thumbstick to flick up and down with the B button to parry or to perform a lunge. There’s even the Super Lunge, which again, is a simple set of controls that require the user to simply hold R and A together in order to perform the move.
Each of the game modes are super simple, but some of them – namely Gymnastics – do require a bit more precision as you will have to be precise with your execution, hitting X, Y, B, A, and using the left thumbstick when it tells you to or move out on your move set, penalizing yourself when it comes to scoring due to the mistake that had been made.
Modes like the Disc Throw are all about precision, knowing what way your character is going and how you should have your Joy-Con’s angled when you release the disc. It’s all about knowing how and when to perform specific maneuvers or the pacing of the event you are undertaking.
It’s one of those games where “practice makes perfect” as my mom used to say when I was growing up. This is true about this game as well since it’s all about being the best athlete you can be.
Graphics and performance are key elements that deliver the best Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 experience to date
One of the be st things about this game is its graphics. They pop and they work rather well for both franchises. Characters from each universe appear just how you would expect them to when going through the experience itself. Let alone does the game look great both docked and in handheld modes, it plays just as great as well, performance never dipping below what you would expect it to do.
Never once did I run into a lagspike online, a framerate drop or some flickering of the graphics. It’s an amazing experience to walk around this digital space, one that highlights the best parts of what Japan would look like in one such perfect situation. I enjoyed taking on events such as Skateboarding and Surfing without any issue.
It’s truly, truly, marvelous and the fact that it runs buttery smooth (seemingly 60fps) it’s hard to state that the Nintendo Switch isn’t capable of some amazing things when it actually is. It’s arguably, one of the best experiences the Nintendo Switch has to offer in terms of graphics and performance.
It’s a same, however, that we really don’t get anything to unlock that could just really, really, set this game above and beyond the experience it already has (who wouldn’t want to make custom modes?)
It’s time to lace up those sneakers, this is the Conclusion of our review!
As we draw into the conclusion of this review, I can’t help but admire Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. It’s fun, it’s a great icebreaker when hanging out with friends or at a party. It’s a game that, honestly, is a great time burner and can also become a party game when you least expect it.
Though, I hate saying that I feel like the story didn’t scratch the craving I’ve had for a true-blue experience with my favorite franchises from my childhood. These two have endless potential and I truly do hope we see more of their endeavors in the future, whether it’s the Olympic Games or not, it’s just a shame we didn’t get more to it.
Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020
Platforms: Nintendo Switch
Version Reviewed: Nintendo Switch
Developer: SEGA of America, Sega Sports R&D
Publisher:Nintendo of America Inc., SEGA of America
Release Date: Available Now
Even a small story that unlocks secret levels in both original titles would have been a blast, or perhaps, more Dream events would have been nice as well. After all, Dream Karate is a blast and it’s a mode I have yet to grow bored with after a month with the game.
Our review is based upon a retail version that was provided to us by the publisher of the game for review. For information about our ethics policy please click here.
About the Writer(s):
Dustin is our native console gamer, PlayStation and Nintendo reviewer who has an appetite for anything that crosses the borders from across the big pond. His interest in JRPG’s, Anime, Handheld Gaming, and Pizza is insatiable. His elitist attitude gives him direction, want, and a need for the hardest difficulties in games, which is fun to watch, and hilarity at its finest. You can find him over on Twitter or Facebook.