Title: Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020
Available On: Nintendo Switch
Official Site: Olympicvideogames.com
Release Date: November 5th, 2019
Version Tested: Switch
Where to Buy it: Nintendo Store Online, Retailers Everywhere
Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 is cute. There you have it, the review is done. If only things were that easy. There’s obviously a lot to say about this game, but in the end, the biggest praise I can give it is that it’s cute. Tokyo 2020 is the 6th iteration in this franchise and brings all your favorite characters together in the world of sport. It’s a fun game if you have a friend to play with or subscribe to Nintendo’s online service. I found it caters more to the younger crowd or perhaps an older and less sober one. Tokyo 2020’s controls are overly simplistic at times and at others, a tad confusing. The game is another beautiful offering for the Switch, but I wish it had been a little more dynamic.
Mario & Sonic… and More
All of your favorite characters from both franchises are here in Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. Seeing Mario, Luigi, Peach, and the rest outside of the Mario universe always makes me smile. There is something indelible about the Nintendo characters that make them infinitely loveable. The Sonic crew, for me, never quite resonated. I get the concept of Sonic and to a lesser extent Tails, but Dr. Egghead and the rest never held a candle to Mario and the gang. Everyone looks great in Tokyo 2020, but most of the Sonic team looks the same to me. This is just a personal thing and has no bearing on the playability of the game in the least.
I do love that there are so many characters to choose from, each with his or her own strengths and weaknesses. Mario is better at some events, while Peach should be your girl of choice for others. Each character will have their respective stats on the screen to help in the decision process. I found they weren’t just empty vessels, but rather, the right pick could win you the game.
Tokyo 2020 Events
There are a staggering 21 3D events to choose from in the game. Some events are a tad basic and others a bit more in-depth. My favorites were Archery, Dream Racing, and Badminton. Many of the other events were fun, however, these particular ones stood out to me.
Along with the modern offerings, players have the option of choosing ‘Tokyo 1964,’ which takes you back to the last time the city hosted the Olympics. In this section, there are several 8 and 16-bit events to choose from. It’s like someone plugged in my NES and SNES and gave me new content to enjoy. It played and felt exactly like the ’80s and early ’90s. They can be exceptionally easy, as most of the events in this area are button smashers. It’s a little touch I really enjoyed being a kid of the ’80s who still has a working Nintendo.
As in previous installments, Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 offers three new “Dream Events”. These new events include “Dream Racing”, “Dream Shooting”, and “Dream Karate”. Just like with past “Dream Events”, players will have a chance to take a step back from the normal and into a more surreal sporting event. It’s a nice change of pace from the usual selection and brings something with a faster pace to the table.
Mario & Sonic…Hard to Play?
Earlier, I briefly mentioned that some of the controls were confusing. The match would start, and I had no idea what to do (even though it told you). After another week of playing it, this still holds true. Regardless of whether or not the computer gives you instructions, I found several of the events confusing and at times, unplayable. Hitting buttons didn’t do anything and it oftentimes got frustrating.
There are other times when events were so simplistic, there wasn’t much to do. Take fencing as an example. You can parry, and you can jab, but not much else. As a former fencer for years, I was hoping there would be more to it. The characters also don’t wear masks, which I can tell you, is dangerous. To be fair though, that’s just me being a fencing nerd.
I am sad to say I never could get the hang of surfing in this game. The computer spells out all the moves before the start of each match, but I was never able to pull much off. I don’t know if I am that inept, or if there is a flaw in the game. Not all events are like this. I found several to be easy and intuitive. There were just more than enough peppered throughout that were confusing to make things less enjoyable.
Joy-Cons vs. Pro-Controller
I started to play more of the games with the detached Joy-Cons and it was better. The Pro-Controller is great, but not the best option for Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. This isn’t to say the Joy-Cons were perfect. Boxing should be more fun with the detached controllers, but it didn’t work very well. I was punching the air like an idiot with little happening in the game. I really wanted to see more accuracy with this, but it wasn’t there. Badminton and Table Tennis were better but slightly lackluster. I found the motion controls in the old Wii Tennis and Mario Tennis to be far superior.
There’s one aspect to the play mechanics that I very much enjoyed. Players have a power gauge that fills throughout a match/event. When the meter fills, you can pull off a super move that either gives you an advantage or outright wins the point/game. Pulling one off is simple and activates a unique animation showing your character “hulking out”. It reminds me a lot of Super Smash Bros. but slightly toned down.
Tokyo and Around the World
Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 is best played with friends. If you’re like me and have little to no friends to speak of, you’ll be happy to know there’s online play. Connect to Nintendo’s online service and play ranked matches or skirmishes. If you do have friends to play with, you can connect 4 Switches for local multiplayer.
There is a story mode to Mario & Sonic. Our two titular heroes must put aside their differences and team up to defeat Bowser and Dr. Eggman. The Story mode features 3D and 2D events, mini-games, and trivia. There’s something for the whole family.
Verdict: Mario & Sonic were made for an Olympic rivalry, but I oftentimes wish it wasn’t so simplistic. I loved the retro gaming within the game as it added another dimension to it (pun intended). I know I went on and on about the game being either hard to play or confusing at times, but I still enjoyed it. Well, for the most part.
Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 really does cater to a younger crowd, but there’s something for everyone. If you have kids or live in a dorm with lots of friends, this game is worth your time. Nintendo has had a knack for releasing family-friendly games for groups of people to enjoy. As a solo offering, it’s not going to appease most people. It’s fun at times, frustrating at others. If you’ve had fun with the previous installments, then I see no reason why you wouldn’t love this one as well.
- Fun in groups
- The game is beautiful
- Awesome retro gaming section
- Some events are hard to control
- Overly simplistic at times
- Not much fun when going solo