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 Thomas Wilde on July 15, 2019 @ 12:30 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

Mario & Sonic was the highest-profile game at Sega's E3 2019 booth by a significant margin, with attendees encouraged to compete on a climbing pole to win swag like T-shirts. It's the first Mario & Sonic franchise crossover since 2016, the last time that they attended the Olympics together, and this time, the home version is a Switch exclusive.

Like last time, this trip to the Olympics is a collection of minigames, using the Joy-Cons in a series of elaborate ways to mimic various Olympic competitions. The version on the E3 show floor let players pick between Amy Rose, Bowser, Eggman, Mario, Peach and Sonic to play games based on archery, karate, skateboarding and the 110m hurdles.

Naturally, the final version will also feature Knuckles, Luigi, Tails and Yoshi as well as 12 other events, with more announced closer to launch. Current sports on the list include badminton, boxing, canoeing, fencing, floor gymnastics (I think it's going to be worth the cost of entry just to see Bowser doing handsprings), horseback riding, the javelin, rugby, sport climbing, surfing, swimming (the 100-meter freestyle) and soccer (or football, if you aren't American).

Local multiplayer uses a split-screen mode, but you can also play via the internet with, presumably, a Switch Online subscription.

I probably enjoyed the archery the most of what was actually playable on the E3 show floor. It's designed to work with a single Joy-Con controller, without actually requiring the stick or d-pad at all. You push one button to aim and fire, while adjusting your planned trajectory and power based upon the current wind speed. It took a few seconds to figure out, but after that, it was surprisingly satisfying to land a solid shot.

Karate also saw a lot of play at E3, with a setup a lot like a typical fighting game. It's played almost entirely straight despite the characters involved, with simple controls based around scoring competitive points. It's all mind games and neutral play, with no incentive or ability to mash out a win. It's also oddly satisfying to pick Peach and punch Bowser repeatedly in the chest. Maybe that's why she showed up to this at all.

The skateboarding works surprisingly well too, particularly at an E3 where it was one of the only two games that featured skateboarding at the show. (The other one was an indie Kickstarter project.) It continued a trend with the other playable minigames in that it took a few seconds to figure out, but after that, it felt like my skill level ranked up dramatically.

I didn't win my match against a Sega employee, but I got within 10,000 points of him on my first attempt, which was oddly satisfying. It's really just a competition to freestyle around a simple skate park, doing tricks, slides, and jumps to rack up as many points as possible before time expires. It's another minigame where it looks crazy to see Eggman or Bowser flying around on a board doing flips or ollies, but that's arguably part of the appeal.

Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 is planned to debut on the Nintendo Switch in November of this year, with an arcade version following at some point in 2020.

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