It’s been over a decade since Nintendo and Sega exceeded expectations when their biggest mascots took center stage in the same game, all in the name of sports. The true embodiment of this Olympic spirit is the game’s most successful rivalry, the hatchet buried in exchange for the torch. While some previously unseen games have lost their appeal over time, both franchises are experiencing some resurgence thanks to the success of Super Mario Odyssey and Sonic Mania in 2017. This year the 2020 Olympics were held in Nintendo & Sega’s home country, which meant it was time to bring the series to the Switch, and it was a big deal.
The result is Mario & Sonic at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics (which is easy, right?), designed and published by Sega with Nintendo text as a consultant on the phone. For those of you who don’t know him: Mario & Sonic titles are mini-collections of games that focus on current Olympic events. Like any other collection of Wii minigames, they make great board games, but like everything else, they’re also pretty annoying. Critics have repeatedly pointed out that the collaboration between Nintendo and Sega was never fully realized. Imagine a Star Trek/Star Wars crossover, but that was just Kylo-Ren & Spock playing board games for two hours.
At least it was – until this latest entry, as Mario & Sonic 2020 is arguably the most reliable game in the series to date. By switching from the Wii U to the Switch, Sega looked under the hood and gave the franchise the adjustment it so desperately needed. As for the book Mario Tennis Aces, we are focusing on improving the online play and content for single player.
Mario & Sonic 2020 comes with a full storyline. Just as the real Olympics are about to begin, a strange gadget designed by Dr. Robotnik sends everyone back in time to the 1964 games, where everything is in 8 and 16 bits – because of course it is. The retro and modern game battle it out as you must fight your way through generations of Olympic events to return to your own time. The retro sections are complemented by camp dialogues and chiptune music. It’s just a way to tie all the mini-games into a story, similar to Super Mario Party, but it’s an incredibly charming campaign mode and definitely more in line with the amount of content you expect from Nintendo in 2019.
This time there are more than 30 events on the schedule, including not only 2D events, but also new 3D events like surfing and climbing. If you want to get even crazier, there are new dream events. Basically, Sega lets you curse the Olympic cannon and invent your own mini-games. They look like the Olympics, but are a bit more sophisticated, like giant shooting ranges and futuristic surfing. The latter is easily my favorite among the new events, but I meet it anyway, which reminds me that Sonic Riders is one thing.
At most events, you can play with up to four people, while online play allows for up to eight players. There are also a few different control combinations that I really enjoyed. The preferred method of course is the Joy-Cone, motion control and dreamy eyes. With Nintendo, motion-controlled gameplay is smoother than ever, even without the Wii Touchbar. But if you don’t like this life, you can play with two Joy-Cons, a Joy-Con on the side, or a Switch Pro Controller – whatever you want. I was really pissed off when Pokémon Let’s Go let me play with only one Joy-Con, and I will always support multiple controllers. But beware: This game was designed with much more care, taking into account the motion controls. You can play all the events with the face buttons, but some will get really boring. Looks like a PS2 Quick Time Event – boring.
Another hook I found in the game is that the campaign starts with retro events in 2D and then you go to 3D. The complexity of events in 2D is a little less balanced compared to the rest of the game, and if you’re less interested in nostalgia for the art of elves and gameplay of the 90s, the throwaway aesthetic can quickly become outdated. The alternation between modern and retro events would have created a much more interesting dynamic in my opinion. The plot might even explain why the period is always alternating.
Details aside, it’s a great achievement for Sega to see a game so obviously reminiscent of a Wii era game. While the Switch has been a big step forward for Nintendo’s reputation as a serious competitor in the industry, there are still more than enough kicks coming to the platform through the online store and through the half-baked ports. This could have been the fate of Mario & Sonic 2020, but thankfully Sega recognized the potential of the series and realized which parts needed to be reworked. The result is a great party game that I would even rival Wii Sports or Mario Party in terms of fun factor.
Mario and Sonic at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games Overview
- Charts – 7/10
- Sound – 7/10
- Gameplay – 9/10
- Last call – 9/10
Final thoughts : GRAND
After the flagship Nintendo Switch Party 1-2-Switch received mixed reviews at launch, Mario & Sonic 2020 may be the long-awaited replacement for Wii Sports fans. It still suffers from some of the budgetary awkwardness we all remember so well from the Wii era, but the new ideas combined with refreshing old concepts will excite and impress anyone who takes it.
Evan Rude is a journalism student and amateur gambling historian. His favorite Guitar Hero III song was Even Flow.
How to load…
super mario games, mario online, super mario bros, jelly mario, mario kart, super mario brothers, mario unblocked, super mario odyssey