Tuesday, November 05, 2019

"Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games 2020 Tokyo" Review

It's hard to believe it's already time for the Summer Olympics games that lead up to the events themselves. Mario and Sonic -- ambassadors of goodwill for bridging the longstanding rivalry between Sega and Nintendo -- are back to set the tone for the athletic competition with their usual minigame compilation.

The dev team at Sega snaps the series out of its funk by adding in 8-bit retro competitions. Presented as the characters having time-traveled to the 1964 Tokyo games, the simplified activities dispense with the frills and pyrotechnics for raw, retro-style fun.

The normal events work the opposite way, continuing to push the visual fidelity for the series' debut on Switch. Convincing speed, animation and the usual quirky, oddball sense of humor permeate the wacky track and field antics.

The retro games aren't the only imaginative larks. The stylized "Dream" events ratchet u[shooting, karate and racing up a few levels on the absurd-o-meter, providing a welcome break from the standard button-mashing fare.

Oddly, and welcomely, there's also an educational aspect to the game in its story mode, with a steady drip of Olympic trivia, with an emphasis on the 1964 games. There's a pervading sense of cultural pride at play, with developers paying tribute to the full-circle dynamic of the hotbed of gaming culture hosting the games after a 56-year break.

The crossover franchise has come quite a ways from the simplistic, party game atmosphere of the 2008 Beijing games debut on Wii and DS. Still, the surreal effect of seeing Nintendo and Sega icons clash on the same screen hasn't lost its surreal pull, even with the "Smash Bros." series taking a similar tack. It's every bit as intriguing as Spider-Man setting up on the blocks for a sprint against Batman.

As many as four local players -- or eight competitors online -- can divvy up the 20 characters among the 31 events, which span the gamut from track, to surfing, canoe, boxing, equestrian, gymnastics martial arts, rugby and soccer. Basketball somehow misses the cut.

A colorful, hypercompetitive romp, "Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games 2020 Tokyo" is every bit as overstuffed and meandering as its title. And in a sense, the tone fits the Olympics themselves. This is a compilation that will keep you well entertained through the years until the 2024 Paris Olympics draw nearday.

Publisher provided review code.

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