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Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch
Genre: Sports
Publisher: SEGA
Release Date: Nov. 5, 2019 (US), Nov. 8, 2019 (EU)


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Switch Preview - 'Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020'

by Chris "Atom" DeAngelus on Oct. 13, 2019 @ 1:00 a.m. PDT

The latest in the beloved Mario and Sonic crossover series. Players can experience the Olympic Games events together, using the Joy-Con on the Nintendo Switch.

Pre-order Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020

Perhaps one of the oddest things in video game history is the fact that long-time platforming rivals Mario and Sonic finally came together in, of all things, an Olympics-themed minigame collection. The Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games franchise has been running strong since the start. Each new version adds more characters, events, and opportunities to inexplicably have Dr. Eggman beat Sonic the Hedgehog in a footrace. The latest game, Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, seems to be the best effort yet, with an absurd number of events and a few cool new bonuses.

The most obvious thing about Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 is that it a total of over 30 events. Each event is a pretty simple minigame designed to be played competitively against other players. Some will be familiar to players who took on the previous versions of the franchise, but the Switch feels like a better-suited device for the game than any previous Nintendo system. The pop-off-and-play controllers and portable nature of the console work in its favor, as it's easy to hop into a game while hanging out with friends.

The new events are also pretty fun. For example, karate is a back-and-forth set of minigames where you have to attempt to bait the opponent into a mistake so you can score a knockdown. It's easy to pick up, but if two players are going back and forth, it feels surprisingly tense for a minigame. Other events like feel like simplified versions of other games. Skateboarding naturally brings to mind the Tony Hawk franchise from days of yore, but obviously it's simpler. Every event is designed to be played with a few buttons so they can't be too complex, but they do well within the console constraints.

One of the coolest features in Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 is the "8-bit" events. For reasons explained in the plot, these are trips back to the good old days of the last time Tokyo hosted the Olympics. All the characters are transformed into old-school versions of themselves, so the Mario cast is 8-bit while the Sonic cast uses Genesis sprites. These old-school competitions are simpler than the ones in the main game. They resemble the button-mashy sports games from the NES days, but they still have their appeal, and the 8-bit events capture them exceedingly well.

Also included are a handful of dream events, which are basically souped-up versions of several regular events. For example, Dream Karate is four-player game where you not only have to karate-fight the other players, but your overall goal is also to smash them onto the ground, changing colored blocks to your color. There's a Sonic Riders-inspired hoverboard sequence and a bizarre shooting minigame where you compete against other players to blast the most targets. These modes are an unusual deviation from the regular Olympic sports, but they seem to fit well with the video game cast.

No one should be surprised or disappointed by what they get in Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. From what we've played, it's one of the most fully featured and fleshed-out Olympic Games titles to date. At its heart, it's a well-designed minigame collection that's full of fan favorites. Assuming the final version lives up to what we've played thus far, it'll be a must-buy for Switch owners who are looking for a fun multiplayer party game. Of course, there's always the fun option of choosing Waluigi and ruining everyone's day....

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