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Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 Nintendo Switch Review

9 min read
Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 is an enjoyable party game and probably the best installment of the series.

Time to party and go for the gold!

What They Say:
Join Mario, Sonic, and friends for their greatest adventure yet at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, exclusively on Nintendo Switch! Go for gold as you compete in action-packed sports games, including 4 brand new events to Tokyo 2020— Skateboarding, Karate, Surfing, and Sport Climbing, as well as a large selection of classic events.

Get the party started on your Nintendo Switch with a variety of ways to play, including button play and motion controls in multiplayer game modes that support up to 4 locally and up to 8 online. Play as Mario, Sonic, Yoshi, Amy Rose, Luigi, Dr. Egg man, and many more of your favorite characters.

The 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan are just around the corner. What better way to get ready than to join Mario, Sonic, and their pals in some friendly competition?

The one thing you always know when picking up a Mario & Sonic at the Olympics game is that it’s going to be a fun party game. This installment is no different. It’s a game meant to be played and enjoyed with other people. Sure, you can play the events by yourself but it’s just not the same experience. But what if you crave a single-player experience? Perhaps a story mode of some kind? Well, you’re in luck! I am happy to say that Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 has got you covered.

There is a story mode in this game! It’s actually a lot of fun, albeit rather short. Then again, the story mode is usually short in these types of games. I’m just glad that they did include one. Dr. Eggman and Bowser have joined forces in hopes of defeating their archenemies, Sonic and Mario. This isn’t the first time they’ve teamed up and it probably won’t be the last. It usually doesn’t go well for them either. So, what nefarious scheme do these two have up their sleeves this time? They plan to trap Sonic and Mario in a game console. Alright. that’s a new one. And you know what? They actually succeed! The only problem is that they also end up getting trapped in the game console. Whoops!

The game console transports Sonic, Mario, Dr. Eggman, Bowser, and Toad (who somehow got caught up in all of this) to a 2D Tokyo in 1964, complete with 8-bit and 16-bit graphics. If you’re not aware of the year’s significance, 1964 was the last time the Olympic Games were held in Tokyo. As for the retro graphics, I was a big fan. Getting to see all these characters in their original character sprites from their first games was incredibly nostalgic. It brought back happy memories of my childhood playing Super Mario Bros. on the NES and Sonic The Hedgehog on the Sega Genesis. Ah, those were the days. Also, I freaking love 16-bit Dr. Eggman. All his movements are just so entertaining, especially when he runs! Did you know that Dr. Eggman invented the Naruto run? Because he did.

The story revolves around trying to return those four back to the real world. Er, I guess I meant to say those five. I keep forgetting about Toad. In my defense, mostly everyone else in the story also forgot about Toad. In fact, I don’t think anyone in the real world ever showed concern for him once. They only cared about Mario and Sonic. That’s a bit sad actually. Anyways, the story mode is broken up into 20 chapters. Each chapter is basically the same, you travel around Tokyo (2020 or 1964) and compete in different Olympic events. I have to mention how cool it is that all the venues in the game are authentic. Nippon Budokan, Musashino Forest Sports Plaza, Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium – these are all verified venues that are going to be used for the Olympic Games. It’s even cooler to know that you play the actual events that will be held in each venue as well. It makes you feel like you’re really at the Olympics!

Of course, the goal in each event is to win the gold medal. You actually need those gold medals to save everyone trapped inside the game console. The events are easy at the start but get more challenging in the later chapters. You shouldn’t have too much trouble getting the gold medal in all of the events though. If you do find yourself stuck on a particular event, the game gives you the option to skip it after you’ve failed it a few times. That’s a neat feature if you want to skip an annoying event or just want to get through the story faster.

Besides Olympic events, some chapters include fun minigames such as climbing Tokyo Tower or defeating a horde of Shy Guys. Once you complete a minigame, you successfully unlock it and can play it outside the story mode in the Game Room. Speaking of unlockables, there are a few guest characters that you can unlock as well. Sadly, you cannot use them outside the single event where you unlock them. For example, you unlock Rosalina in the surfing event and Diddy Kong in the rugby event. However, you can only use Rosalina in surfing and Diddy Kong for rugby. That’s a darn shame. I think not being able to use your unlocked characters for all the events is a missed opportunity. How dare they deny me my dream table tennis duo of Peach and Rosalina!?

Another thing you can do while walking around Tokyo is to gather bits of trivia. They include stuff like the history of the Olympics, information about the venues, and fun facts about the characters from the Mario and Sonic games. While some of the trivia is interesting like finding out how many gold medals Japan won in 1964, some of it is just silly. I don’t particularly need to know the color of Peach’s shoes…although I guess you don’t usually see them since her dress hides them most of the time. Regardless, the trivia is fine and you’ll probably gain some wanted and unwanted knowledge along the way.

Once you complete the story mode and rescue everyone from the game console, there’s still so much you can do. As I mentioned at the beginning, this is a party game that’s best enjoyed by playing with other people. Depending on the event, up to 4 people can play together locally. Invite some of your friends over and have yourselves a fun time! I did just that and had a grand old time. Games are so much more fun when you play them with friends! If your friends can’t come over, worry not! You can still play with people around the world online. Up to 8 people can join a game online for even more wacky fun. And hey, why not try to get the highest score on an event while you’re there and show off how good you are on the Online Rankings?

As for the events, there are over 30 of them that you can play and are split up into 3D events and 2D events. The 3D events include 100m, 110m Hurdles, 4 x 100m Relay, Archery, Badminton, Boxing, Canoe Double (C-2) 1000m, Discus Throw, Equestrian – Jumping, Fencing, Football (Soccer), Gymnastics – Floor Exercise, Javelin Throw, Karate – Kumite, Rugby Sevens, Skateboarding – Park, Sport Climbing, Surfing – Shortboard, Swimming – 100m Freestyle, Table Tennis, and Triple Jump. The 2D events include 100m, 10m Platform (Diving), 400m Hurdles, Volleyball, Gymnastics – Vault, Judo, Kayak Single (K-1) 1000m, Long Jump, Marathon, and Shooting – Trap.

That’s certainly a lot of events to choose from! You’re bound to find a few that you’ll really enjoy playing over and over again. Personally, I love combat sports so I played boxing, karate, and judo a lot. I played them so much that I was untouchable when I competed with my friends. I also had a lot of fun playing Table Tennis and Badminton. They made me feel like I was playing Mario Tennis Aces again. Skateboarding, surfing, sport climbing, and karate were new additions to the series this year which I think were great choices. Playing any of the 2D events gave me a rush of nostalgia. Truthfully, I simply enjoyed playing all of the events.

There are also Dream events that you can play. These Dream events take familiar levels from the Super Mario or Sonic The Hedgehog series and incorporate wacky gameplay. They include Dream Shooting, Dream Racing, and Dream Karate. In Dream Shooting, you shoot targets and kites down to gain the highest score. In Dream Karate, you feel like you’re playing a Mario Party game as you karate chop the competition in order to gain control of the most neon squares. In Dream Racing, you’re racing against others while also trying to slow them down with power-ups. It’s basically Mario Kart but with hoverboards. They’re only three Dream Events but they sure are a lot of fun!

How can I forget all the characters you can choose to play as? There are 20 characters you can choose from and they are Mario, Luigi, Peach, Daisy, Donkey Kong, Bowser Jr., Yoshi, Bowser, Wario, Waluigi, Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, Amy, Dr. Eggman, Shadow, Silver, Metal Sonic, Blaze, and Vector. As previously mentioned, there are also guest characters you unlock during story mode such as Rosalina, Diddy Kong, Jet, Eggman Nega, and more! I’m not pleased that you can only use them for specific events though. They really need to fix that. Anyways, make sure you pay attention to your character’s stats when selecting them. Characters like Sonic are speedy so they’ll excel in running events. Characters like Bowser are quite strong and will be difficult to deal with in events like Judo. You can always go with balanced characters like Mario as well. Being aware of the characters’ stats will give you an edge in certain events.

Visually, the game is beautiful. It does a fantastic job portraying Tokyo and all of its Olympic venues and famous attractions such as Tokyo Tower, Tokyo Skytree, Shibuya Crossing, and Tokyo Station. The soundtrack is fine but nothing special. Although, I did like the retro tracks from the 2D Tokyo 1964 world. I just wish there was a larger selection. The opening theme song is nice and you can hear some oriental influence in it.

Lastly, I want to highlight the controls for the game. You can play using button controls with a single Joy-Con, dual Joy-Cons, or even a pro controller. What’s really neat is that you can also play the game using motion controls. I personally don’t like using the motion controls but I know there are people out there who do. In any case, it’s nice to have the option. Playing any way that you want is always a positive in my eyes.

In Summary:
Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 is an enjoyable party game and probably the best installment of the series. Honestly, this was one of the most amusing games I’ve played this year. It’s just so much fun to play with friends. It’s great that you can compete with people locally and online. The story mode, although short, is a welcome addition. The retro stuff was awesome and gave me tons of nostalgia. All the events were fun to play. I’m sure there’s something here for everyone to enjoy! It’s an overall pleasant experience. I’m certainly hyped for the Olympic Games in Tokyo next year. Are you?

Grade: B+

Publisher: SEGA
Developer: SEGA
Genre: Sports/Party
Age Rating: E10+ (Cartoon Violence)
Number of Players: 1 – 4 (Local), 2 – 8 (Online)
Release Date: November 5th, 2019 (North America) | November 8th, 2019 (Europe)
MSRP: $59.99 US
Platform: Nintendo Switch™

This review was done with a review copy provided by the publisher. We are grateful for their continued support.

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