I know they’ve been doing so for a while now, but seeing Mario & Sonic cavorting together still feels wrong. When the games they’re both in are as much fun as Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, however, I’ll happily turn the other way to their infidelity.
It’s that time again. Another Olympic Games is just around the corner, and so Mario and co. have all got together for more sporting shenanigans. And trust me, there’s plenty to go around.
It’s clear from the moment you jump into your first event that Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 looks great. It may not be made by Nintendo, but it has all the charm and colour of a first-party title. It has the performance, too; there are no Link’s Awakening-like framerate mishaps here. Everything is set for you to just throw yourself into a bucketload of event types and simply have fun. And that’s what you do. Time and time again. For the most part, anyway.
When it comes to events, Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 has plenty. 21 events form the game’s Tokyo 2020 offerings, ranging from 100m to sports climbing and even surfing. Then there are three Dream events – racing, shooting and karate – that are a little more videogame-like and fantastical. And to finish off you can travel back to Tokyo 1964 to take part in a further 10 events. Aside from another iteration of 100m, all the Tokyo 1964 events are unique, and their retro stylings make them feel like a real blast from the past.
Every event found within Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 can be played with buttons, so it’s very much Switch Lite friendly, though many events can be played using motion controls if you prefer. Most of them work rather well, too, like archery. In fact, motion controls are best used when you’re playing with friends, as it just makes everything that little bit more fun and slapstick. And Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 is certainly a game you’ll want to play with friends, laughing and competing with each other until the early hours of the morning.
Up to four players can crowd around one TV or Switch to enjoy the events that Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 has to offer, but they might struggle to get a good view of the action unless playing on a big screen. If multiple players have their own Switches and copies of the game, local Wi-Fi multiplayer is also possible, and there’s also online play. The only thing that prevents Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 from being pretty much flawless in multiplayer is that you can’t pre-select a series of events to compete across. Every time you finish an event, you have to return to the event selection screen to select another. It just breaks the flow of the action.
Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 isn’t just a collection of standalone events meant for multiplayer antics though; there is a single player story mode too – one in which Bowser and Dr. Robotnik have banded together and invented a device to thwart their enemies. It goes wrong, of course, and ends up sending a selection of the game’s cast to the Tokyo 1964 Olympic Games. From then on, the story frequently switches between the past and present, with you taking part in both retro events at the Tokyo 1964 Olympic Games and snazzy-looking events at the Tokyo Olympic Games 2020. There are some mini-games only found in story mode too that are pretty entertaining. Once you’ve completed them, you can play them again from the main menu.
You’re likely to complete Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020‘s story mode in around seven hours or so, and then you can go back to it after for more fun. There’s a map that’s laden with venues for you to visit, and events can be replayed at your leisure. It’s quite educational, too, with facts about the Olympic Games and the worlds of Sonic and Mario just waiting to be discovered. My only bugbear with it is that dialogue isn’t voiced, so you spend a lot of time clicking though text boxes. Still, it’s rather entertaining considering how silly it is. Playing through story mode also unlocks some additional characters for many of the game’s events.
Some may find the majority of Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020’s events to maybe be a bit simple, but that’s the joy of it, really. It’s a game that anyone can pick up and play and have fun with. Although saying that, some events aren’t explained very well, leaving you to master them through trial and error, especially if you don’t know their basic rules to begin with. I hated volleyball and rugby until I’d played them multiple times and finally understood what I was meant to be doing. Now I simply just tolerate them. Every person that plays Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 is sure to find a handful of games that they absolutely love and another handful that they aren’t so keen on. It’s just how it is.
While it’s not likely to surprise anyone who has played earlier releases in the Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games series, the combination of a varied range of easy-to-pick-up-and-play events and a polished, colourful presentation style is sure to make Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 popular with gamers of all ages. It’s the perfect game to get out when you have family around for an occasion, and the retro events will likely elicit fond memories from gamers of a certain age. And to top it all off, there’s a decent single-player mode to get stuck into. It’s not perfect, but as mini-game collections go, Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 is up there with the best of them.
Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 is available on Switch.
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