Image courtesy of GameSpew.com
With the Tokyo 2020 summer Olympics approaching, another entry into the Mario and Sonic Olympic cross-over series makes its appearance. This is unsurprising as the series began 12 years ago to celebrate the Beijing 2008 olympic games with a release for all but one, including winter game ever since. I started to lose interest after London 2012; the same underwhelming bonus content and overload of playable characters never lived up to the magic of the original Wii release. That was until I picked up Tokyo 2020 on release day. Not only was the game aesthetically stunning and had a collection of new events but also a story mode with a unique twist...
As always, beloved characters from the Super Mario and Sonic the Hedgehog franchises gather together to compete in this olympic mini game series. Usual traditional events include athletics, swimming, gymnastics, archery, fencing and table tennis to name just a few. Some new events introduce surfing, rock climbing, karate and my personal favourite: skateboarding!
Players also have multiple controller options: joy con motion control or buttons, allowing the game to be played either on a TV or on the go. Much to my surprise, the buttons option was much less hassle than joy-con motion. The Mario and Sonic series is known for it’s physical motion control gameplay but this time they made frustrating havoc at times and often resulted in lack of response on the game’s half. This made events such as long jump and rock climbing more challenging than it was worth. Joy con buttons have always been my go-to, especially for events involving command inputs and balance-based sections.
So far, every game in the series has been exclusively 3D. Tokyo 2020 arrives and the thought of exclusively 3D didn’t seem enough. For the first time we witness the two beloved gaming mascots compete in 2D retro mini games representing the Tokyo 1969 olympics. Everything from the 16 bit jump and running sounds, events announcer to the accuracy in pixelated character styles felt highly convincing and will definitely bring back some nostalgia to old school Mario and Sonic fans. This ties nicely in to the story mode in which Mario, Sonic, Bowser, Dr Eggman and Toad are trapped in the 1969 retro olympic world and must find a way to get back to 2020 again. While the story wasn’t anything to get too excited about, it was nice to have a switch from 2D to 3D and vice versa for a change of scenery.
As well as the ambitious story, enormous effort has been made with the vibrant and dazzling environments. In past instalments characters have only been seen in their trademark outfits. This round consists of everyone in athletic shirts, shoes, fencing and equestrian outfits which is a fun and quirky attention to detail. In-game graphics are mind-glowingly beautiful; It’s hard to not gaze in awe at the photo-realistic water effects during aquatics based events. Throwing sunlight glares and water droplets on the screen into the mix truly emphasise the high level of realism achieved.
Overall, Mario and Sonic at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games is not just another bland
instalment to the 12 year long series. It caters to both old school and modern generation audiences with a switch in visual styles and the extra events to shake up the whole Olympic experience. While the motion controls take some getting used to as well as the underwhelming storyline, that doesn’t stop the choice of events, ease of play on the go or level of detail achieved making ‘Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020’ a worthy addition to the series.