PLATFORM: NINTENDO SWITCH
RELEASE DATE: NOVEMBER 5th, 2019
DEVELOPER: SEGA Sports R&D
PUBLISHER: SEGA of America
NOTE – A copy of this game was provided to Gaming Instincts by SEGA of America for review.
Around every year or so, SEGA of America delivers a variation of the olympic games that includes our favorite Nintendo and Sega characters from the Mario and Sonic Series. This year takes place in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Well with all of the previous Mario & Sonic games that have been out in the past, will this game simply be another rehash of what’s been already available or do the Tokyo 2020 games make the series shine? We’ll give you our Final Verdict.
A Bizarre, but Charming Story
Let’s start with the main story. This is something entirely new as the previous games have lacked a story in the past as the characters were simply competing in many olympic-based events. Well this one’s different and add a new story where the cast of Mario and Sonic Characters come together and have to deal with a scheme that Eggman and Bowser have created just for this year. After getting Sonic and Mario together, Bowser and Eggman gave the duo a new console which would subsequently send them inside of the system. Well after a mishap, Mario, Sonic, Bowser, and Robotnik have ended up inside of the console which houses the 1964 Tokyo Olympics in all of it’s retro-styled glory. Well the only way out is to earn the gold medals from the simplified versions of Olympic events. Now while Sonic and Mario attempt to escape. Luigi and the rest of the crew in the meantime are trying to figure out how to get Mario and Sonic out of the mysterious console, all while competing in all of the Olympic events that they are trying to compete in.
The story will take you all over the city of Tokyo during the 2020 Olympics, and with that you’ll be seeing all sorts of landmarks that you would see if you were to visit Japan. These places include the Tokyo station, Sumida River, Tokyo tower and more! Also when visiting these locations, you’ll be either playing as Mario in the Tokyo 64 console, or Luigi in the overworld. While walking around you look at the sights while learning all of the different types of trivia regarding the Tokyo Olympics. You can either learn this from the surrounding characters or go to a trivial booth and learn something new. There’s several scattered between all of the areas so try to collect them all.
This goes for both the 64 and real worlds as they’re both almost identical except with different areas and the obvious artstyle change. Additionally you don’t really do anything other than walk around and move to the next event area to continue the story. Despite the huge differences between the worlds, you don’t really do much anything different in Tokyo 64 even if some of the events are less olympic-related and more of some interesting gameplay scenarios, but we’ll get to those later.
The graphics in this game are at the very least okay and pretty much represent the characters and personalities pretty well. All of your favorite characters are here and they look for the most part, pretty much how they look in the previous games. Of course the models of the characters can look a bit more polygonal than what most people would compare to Mario Oddyssey, but you can’t expect high definition graphics for all of the games that are on the Switch, so the game gets a pass. You can easily forgive the small details of the characters as you’ll mostly be using them to play in the sports events and it’s in those events where the characters and animation shine as characters are fully animated and include many different animations and movement depending on the event. In general, none of the character look off and at the very least some characters can look stiff during these events, but that’s a bit forgivable.
For the Tokyo 64 areas, it’s actually pretty amazing how dedicated the team was adding in the sprites and animations from the previous games into its own little world. You play as the original Super Mario Bros. Mario and the original Sonic the Hedgehog in an 8-bit world. Of course you’ll be joined by other characters as well including Eggman, Bowser, Knuckles, and even Peach. They also use the likeness of their retro counterparts in both this world and 64 events as well. It’s a small but much needed touch to the game that pretty much puts in a spin to the series as a whole.
The sound design in this game is pretty interesting if not forgettable. The unique tunes of the Tokyo Olympics makes its way through both the overworlds and both in the in-game events. The theme of each area differs as you explore Tokyo and it’s all the ambient soundtrack you could want from an anime adventure. Unfortunately it seems like most of the events tend to have the same type of music whether it’s just the introduction to the event, or winning, it all just sounds the same if you were to play these events in consecutive order.
For the 64 world, the music takes a nice retro 8-bit theme that also works as the overworld theme. The music here is more retro-like and includes a 8-bit remix of the real-world Tokyo Olympics theme with Luigi. It seems like the developers weren’t skipping out on the music this time around, it’s a bit unfortunate that it all sounds generally the same all around.
Most people probably know more about the events than the story, so here’s what’s what. There’s around 31 events in total which includes the 10 1964 retro events.
The events work all the same, as soon as you choose the event through quickplay, you are given an option to use Dual Controllers, Solo Remote to play with a friend, and Buttons Only, for controller users. After choosing, you can pick from a variety of characters ranging from Mario himself, Metal Sonic, Waluigi, and even Blaze the Cat. After choosing a character, players are given instructions and are then able to play. This goes for both the 2020 and the 64 events, despite the retro events using simplified controls, they definitely still require the player’s attention when playing.
Unfortunately these events are pretty short, especially if you’re not playing multiplayer as your character is the only one actually doing things on-screen for some of the events. Of course not all events are short as the dream events offer a unique multiplayer party experience. These events include Dream Racing where you skate down a slope while using power-ups to throw off opponents, Dream Shooting where you use terrible motion controls to operate, and Dream Karate, which acts more like a fun brawler. Though despite one of the events using motion controls, just about all of the events are challenging, fun, and all around short at the very end if you’re playing by yourself. It’s unfortunate that the dream events are so sparce since they are legitimately more fun that most of the other normal events in the game.
Aside from these events, there’s also minigames which you can unlock from the game’s story. They use the same general controls to play and mostly take place in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, but they do offer a bit of fun in-between the story plots such as Sonic chasing Eggman who is escaping on a Bullet Train! Though there is less incentive to play these minigames as they don’t seem to really offer anything for beating them outside of the main story.
Mario & Sonic at the Olympic games remains to be one of the more challenging competitive party games around. While the game has an added story with a few new more imaginative events, the gameplay is all around short and feels more stale as you play the events consecutively. Fortunately the game does a great job at giving the characters their individual personality through the story and most of the events are fun and rewarding to play in the very end. This is why we give Mario & Sonic at the Olympic games a 7. The game and all of the events are pretty good, but is mainly only recommended if players have a group of friends to play with.