By Jenae R / November 5th, 2019
|Title||Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games: Tokyo 2020|
|Developer||Sega Sports R&D|
|Release Date||November 5th, 2019|
|Genre||Sports Party Game|
|Age Rating||Everyone 10+|
Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games: Tokyo 2020 is the first game of its kind that I’ve played. And by that I simply mean I’ve never played any of the prior Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games titles. After playing through so many long JRPGs, I sometimes like to take a break with something else that’s more carefree. This game was perfect for that. I was interested to see how deep the mechanics were and if it was actually worth the price tag. Oh and by the way, from here on out I’m just going to refer to it as Mario & Sonic, because let’s be honest, that is one huge title to have to repeat over and over.
Mario & Sonic has various modes to enjoy. First there’s local multiplayer, where you can choose from a variety of minigames to play either by yourself against computer-controlled characters, or with friends. Then there’s online multiplayer, which I haven’t gotten the chance to try as of writing this review. Third is the story mode. And finally, in the My Data menu are a handful of special minigames you can unlock for replaying after beating them once during the story. The minigames in Mario & Sonic include all of the different sporting events featured at the Summer Olympics and each one has different control options. They can all be played with buttons only, except the discus throw event which is a combination of both buttons and a little bit of motion. Some of the sports only have the standard controller buttons as a means of control and some might let you use motion controls with one or both Joy-Con while detached from the grip. I appreciated being given these choices. Minus the one exception, the discus throw, I could pretty much use whichever controls felt best. Some events were easier with motion, such as the swimming race in 3D mode, and some I was better off not using motion for. I specify 3D mode because there is also a large pool of 2D retro-styled sports activities to take part in.
My biggest worry with Mario & Sonic, and what I was most curious about, was what the depth of the game was. Was it all quantity with a bunch of events I’d get bored of quickly, or were there a few minigames with a lot more options that would actually be fun to replay? Unfortunately, the former is what ended up being the truth. Some events are a little bit longer and more in-depth than others (the equestrian event and the dream skateboard race, for example), but the vast majority were short and arguably basic. While this is a decent option for enjoying multiplayer with friends, it’s definitely a game to be played in short bursts. I feel like Mario & Sonic would be a much more fun title if it had some sort of Mario Party-esque multiplayer campaign that added something to do in between, which was different with every playthrough. Honestly, these minigames would be absolutely perfect for that.
Story mode is much better and where the true heart of this Mario & Sonic title lies. The story takes place with the cast of both the Mario & Sonic franchises hanging out at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. However, Mario and Sonic end up trapped in a Tokyo 1964 Olympics video game created by Dr. Eggman, and Luigi finds himself teaming up with Tails at the 2020 Olympics to try to save them. Throughout the story it switches between each side. The game has a wonderful atmosphere in story mode, with all of Tokyo laid out across a map and each location having an area to walk around and numerous NPCs hanging about. This was the same in both 2020 and 1964.
However, when you jump back to the 1964 Olympics, everything is in that previously mentioned retro 2D style. I loved the detail that went into designing this; it looks and feels just like a retro video game. The speech bubbles were old school with certain things being in all caps and having a unique sound effect as words scrolled across the screen. Some of the events even required extreme button mashing to be able to win. In addition to there being an overworld laid out like a map, each location has trivia questions hidden about. The various trivia questions teach you real facts about the Tokyo Olympics, Olympics of the past and occasionally of the characters featured in the game. And speaking of atmosphere, I truly liked the soundtrack as well. The music adds to the atmosphere nicely, the background music consistently fit the scene or current action going on and it never became an annoyance.
Overall, I had a lot of fun playing Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games: Tokyo 2020. It was the perfect title to take a break from more serious games. That aside, I would not recommend buying this at full price (full price being $59.99). The Story mode was much nicer than expected, yet lacked sufficient replay value. The multiplayer, on the other hand, does have a decent amount of replay value. There are different difficulty options when you play minigames outside of the story and you can go back to beat your records and whatnot. Plus, you can choose from a variety of characters to play as. Each one is even a little bit different in some of the events, like, their swim style or whether or not they take turns sharply on a horse. But it simply wasn’t enough to be any more than a game best played in short bursts. If this sounds like it’s for you, by all means pick it up when you can. For me personally though, it’s something I would grab during a good sale.
Review copy was provided by the publisher.
Mario & Sonicnintendo switchOlympic Games: Tokyo 2020Sega