Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 (Feature Review) Nintendo Switch

Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 (Feature Review) Nintendo Switch
Review Score:

Mario and Sonic at the Olympics by Sega is the premier title of both the Summer and Winter Olympic games. Since the release of the first game on the Nintendo Wii back in 2007, fans of Mario and Sonic (and the Olympic Games in general) look to Sega every four years to release a sequel to their IP (intellectual property) endorsed sports title based on this iconic sporting event. This time the games are being held in Tokyo, Japan during the Summer of 2020.

As the sixth installment in the series, Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 builds upon past releases by including a variety of improvements that were absent from past releases. For starters, a handful of playable characters now wear outfits that accurately depict the sporting event(s) being played. This is a first for Sega’s popular franchise. In fact, the male characters have traditionally worn their iconic outfits in previous outings. In addition, the game’s sporting events have been expanded to include Karate, Sport Climbing, Surfing, and Skateboarding. 

The provided story mode sees Mario and Sonic (among other iconic characters) participating in the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics. As the story progresses, Bowser is seen with Doctor Robotnik (i.e. Eggman outside the West) discussing a plan to ‘trap’ Mario and Sonic inside a new invention. Known as the Tokyo 64, this portable game system is designed to teleport Mario and Sonic to a ‘downgraded’ reality indefinitely. 

The initial plan of delivering the portable  console anonymously to Mario and Sonic works as intended, but Bowser – who grows tired of watching Mario and Sonic fumble with the console – decides to intervene in Dr. Robotnik’s plan by showing up and switching the console on. This results in Mario, Sonic, Toad, Bowser and Dr Robotnik being trapped inside the portable machine. The only way Mario and Sonic can escape is by participating (and winning) in Dr Robotnik’s recreation of the 1964 Tokyo Summer Olympics.

 While this is happening, Luigi learns of Mario and Sonic’s capture and begins searching for Tails to help him reverse the effects of the console. Along the way, Luigi competes in various Olympic events across Tokyo to gain the support of characters like Amy, Daisy and Omochao, among others. Despite being a tutorial of sorts, Story Mode is a great way for the player to familiarize themselves with the game’s sporting events.

Gameplay is similar to previous releases in the series, consisting of endurance-like mechanics that involve rapidly tapping A button to run; quickly moving the left Analog Stick from left to right to maintain balance; and using the Nintendo Switch’s motion controls to aim during archery ( to name just a few). Outside the aforementioned Story Mode, the game provides 24 different sporting events (essentially mini games) that can be played separately via Quick Match (single-player and local co-op), Local Play (connect locally to other Nintendo Switch consoles) and online via the Nintendo Switch Network (more on this in a moment). 

Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 has a healthy selection of mini games that are guaranteed to appeal to almost anyone. For example: The 100m dash and the Triple Jump are very easy to learn, so playing them first is the best way to help the player get acquainted with the series (especially if they’re new to the franchise). The 100m Dash simply requires good thumb dexterity, requiring the player to rapidly tap the A button to gain speed. Halfway through the race, the game will provide an on-screen prompt to press the R button. This will increase the player’s speed, pushing them ahead of the other runners for a brief moment. In conjunction with the A button, it’s pretty easy to win most races.

Triple Jump functions in a similar manner, requiring the player to repeatedly press the A button to run the foul line. The faster the button is pressed, the faster the player’s character will run. Right before jumping, a series of buttons will appear on-screen that must be pressed in the order shown. The timing of these button presses will determine the quality of the jump itself. For example: a perfect run where the button presses are timed well, will result in a ‘Super Jump’ and a very impressive score.

The new sporting events add to Mario and Sonic at the Olympics’ replay value. Karate, for example, has the player sparring hand-to-hand against an opponent. During this event, the game will assist the player by showing the best possible button combinations via on-screen prompts. However, the player can ignore these on-screen suggestions and play the event any way they see fit. The combat system is very simple – A button punches; X button kicks; B button retreats; and Y button throws/knocks down the opponent. The player must defeat their opponent three times to win.

Surfing invokes nostalgic memories of classic sports games (i.e. think California Games by Epyx Computer Software), as the player balances their surf board and performs stunts on massive waves. Like some of the previously mentioned sporting events, the game provides on-screen cues to help the player understand the game mechanics. The Left Analog stick is used to surf, while pressing either A button or the Right shoulder button at the top of a wave, will allow the player’s character to perform ‘tricks’. Pressing both buttons together at the appropriate time will execute a ‘Special’ combo worth 100,000 points. (The player is given three rounds to obtain the best score possible.) Surfing happens to be the most enjoyable (and shortest) event in the entire game, and it should be longer than the provided three rounds. This is a personal opinion, of course.

Sport Climbing happens to be one of the more challenging events due to the way the controls are configured. The player has to use the Left Analog Stick to move their character’s left arm, and the Right Analog stick to move their right, respectively. When reaching for a rock to continue climbing, a cursor (resembling a small hand) will move rapidly over the object in question. The placement of this cursor (which the player can’t necessarily control) will determine whether the player’s character will grab the rock or fall off. (It should be mentioned that to actually climb, the player must either press the Left shoulder button to jump left or the Right shoulder button to jump right).While the event itself is fun, the controls themselves could have been better. They not only feel awkward and forced, but they lack the natural flow of the other mini games. 

Skateboarding – just like surfing – is also a welcome addition to the Mario and Sonic series. It’s definitely no Tony Hawk, but what it does offer is a competent skating experience with plenty of combos and tricks to pull off (i.e. Bigflips, Grinding, Spins, etc.). The setting for this event is a bare-minimum skating park with no obstacles.  This means anyone can pick up the controller and enjoy themselves without having played a skateboarding game.

The online community for Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 seems to be hit or miss. It would seem that the majority of players (when they can be found) prefer ‘ranked’ matches. For some reason, ‘casual’ matches are largely ignored by the game’s fanbase. With that being said, the game performs well online regardless of the event being played.

Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 is one of those games that can be enjoyed by everyone; even if they’re not a sports fans. The online community may not be as active as some games, but it doesn’t really matter. A game like this is best played in the company of family and friends, where the true enjoyment of this title can be found.

Mike Pittaro
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Developer: Sega
Publisher: Sega
ESRB: E 10+ (Everyone 10+)
Price: $59.99

Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 Official Website:

Review Score
Beautiful looking characters and backgrounds.
Classic sound effects and music abound.
Gameplay is solid and similar to previous releases in the series.
Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 is by far the best game in the series.
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