Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 (Switch) Review

Go for gold!

Nintendo has had a pretty great year for exclusive games on their console. It seems almost weekly that there is a new must-own game launching only on their console. So when I saw that the bi-annual Olympic games was making its Switch debut, I wondered if the trend would continue. Olympic games have always been a guilty pleasure of mine. The collection of mini-games is always something I look forward to, and when I can compete as my favorite characters from Nintendo and Sega, it is an added bonus. Toss in the retro-style events and this year’s game is by far my favorite from this series, but it doesn’t come without its own faults.

The highlight of any of these games is the collection of events found within. There are around 40 this time out with a mix of modern 3D ones as well as a smaller collection of retro 2D ones. The retro events are the star of the show as they harken back to the glory days of Track ’N Field. That isn’t to say the 3D ones don’t have some standouts. Archery is something I have gone back to over and over and I am a sucker for any diving events.

MSRP: $59.99
Platforms: Switch
Price Id’ Pay: $49.99

Some of these events though are a lot more complex than they appear. One issue I ran into was of my own doing. I have spent years playing games on Xbox and PlayStation platforms. So on screen button prompts are embedded in my head. On Switch it changes the game swapping the buttons into a backwards fashion. So my brain processes what I need to push, then needs to process that they are backwards, so events based on timing presses I had the most issues with. It is not a fault of the game, but more retraining my brain to swap the buttons.

The story mode does a fantastic job of setting up the 2D events as well as providing an interesting way to traverse the events. It lasts about six hours and feels like it could have been half of that. The dialogue is well-written and even funny at times, but it drones on and on and on ad nauseamat times. There is just so much going on and with it all being text boxes it feels a lot longer than it needs to be. Sometimes I just wanted to get into the event. The premise is delightfully stupid as Bowser and Eggman (Dr. Robotnik) hatch a plan to trap Sonic and Mario in a retro gaming console and instead drag themselves into it as well. It swaps back and forth between the retro events and the modern ones and delivers a nice excuse to see them all.

Of course players can simply jump into any event from the menu and this is where I spent most of my time. There is up to four player local play as well as eight player online. Local was by far the most enjoyable as the online seemed to cause some lag issues with certain events. I also appreciate how the game allows for standard button control or motion depending on preference. The motion controls don’t really add anything to the mix and feel sort of par for the course, but I appreciate that they are offered here.

One area this game excels at is the attention to detail and fan service. Little nods and jokes are sprinkled throughout and there are more references than I could count. The costumes for events are absolutely stellar and the retro events are just chock full of original sprites. It warms my nostalgic heart to see Mario’s 8-bit sprite racing against Sonic’s 16-bit one. This game is packed with stuff like that and I adore it.

Speaking of visuals the game is polished. Character models are fantastic and the retro look is spot-on. The lack of full dialogue can be jarring, but when I consider most of these characters are mute a lot of times it doesn’t bring it down that much. The music feels like background noise, but it does its job. I do wish there were more options for just playing events outside of one-offs. Playlists and tournaments would have gone a long way into making it more engaging with friends.

These games are always a guilty pleasure and this debut on Switch certainly fits the bill. The addition of the 2D events is by far the highlight of this package. I just wish there were more of them. I love that these games drop every couple of years and deliver almost every time. Anyone looking for yet another great Switch game to play with friends, this is another great addition to the library.

Review copy of game provided by publisher.

  • Retro games shine
  • Plenty of fun to be had
  • Looks fantastic
  • Some events are throw-away
  • Story mode drags on
Written by
Ken is the Editor-in-Chief of this hole in the wall and he loves to troll for the fun of it. He also enjoys long walks through Arkham Asylum and the cool air of Shadow Moses Island. His turn-ons include Mortal Kombat, Metal Gear Solid and StarCraft.