Mario and Sonic franchise have reunited again just in time for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. This fan-favorite crossover has mostly received a new game coinciding with every Olympic Games. Sega and Nintendo have collaborated to bring back the popular characters from Super Mario Bros. and Sonic the Hedgehog into a crossover that is full of minigames depicting some of the events that are scheduled to be played at Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.
The new game brings in a story mode that combines the experience of the Olympic Games Tokyo 1964 and 2020. It is a very interesting idea on paper where Mario, Sonic, and other characters are transported into a machine based on the Olympic Games Tokyo 1964. This is all the plan of Dr. Eggman and Browser who wanted to capture their nemesis but instead, they too end up getting carried to this classic world that plays out like an old-school video game from NES or Mega Drive.
The idea of the story feels great at the start as we have covered in our preview. It is not until you fully sink your teeth into the story mode that the flaws become clear. It is a very tedious quest in reality that lacks a soul and charisma. During most of the story mode, the game just makes up events as an excuse to let you attempt the different minigames. It switches between the retro visuals and 3D style and tries to build a narrative, but there is no satisfying conclusion here. It is a very childish and dull story mode at the end of the day.
The minigames are again a highlight this time. In the previous Mario & Sonic games, these minigames were the main focus while there was no story mode. An attempt has been made this time to bring some story together but it falls flat. One of the good things in the story mode are the various Olympic factoids presented educationally. These facts are hidden around the world and can be read before every minigame. They work as trivia regarding the Olympic Games events or the various main cast.
The story mode has some comedic moments with the banter shared between Browser, Eggman, Sonic, and Mario. It is nice to see them together here and this ultimately works more as fanservice. While Mario and Sonic are stuck in the 1964 setting, the modern world, which is playable in full 3D with its minigames, is led by Luigi and Tails who go on a quest to save Sonic, Mario, and other friends from the Tokyo 64 machine. Both of these events play out in tandem switching in and out on occasions.
The minigames are divided into different categories. You have the regular 3D minigames that include Karate, Sport Climbing, 100M Dash, Archery, Table Tennis and Badminton. There are around 21 such minigames available to play and some are incredibly short which also affects their replay value. 100M Dash can be completed within seconds and lacks a thrilling finish. Other games like Badminton are serviceable at best with some wonky controls. The selection of minigames is pretty decent all around especially if you are looking at playing these games in multiplayer.
3D minigames are not the only ones to enjoy. The game also offers 2D minigames but they feel more simple and laid back than their 3D counterparts. Some of these minigames have a 3D version to play as well while others are wholly unique. Not all of the 2D games are fun to play and they also lack support for more than two players. Despite the simplicity, it was still fun to play games like the Long Jump, Volleyball and 100M Dash. They look gorgeous enough with a mix of 8 and 16-bit visuals for Mario and Sonic characters.
Lastly, there are Dream events, which are three in total: Dream Karate, Dream Racing, and Dream Shooting. These minigames offer more depth than the traditional ones and present their twist on the events. Dream Karate feels more like a 3D brawler and it is fun in a party with up to four friends. Dream Shooting has some nice mechanics with its concept of running around and shooting targets in a time limit. Lastly, there is Dream Racing which puts the players on a hoverboard in a race against time.
If you are buying Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 strictly for its story mode, then it will disappoint. The length fo the story mode itself is quite short and it can be finished within five to six hours. The appeal of this game lies in its multiplayer mode which is an ideal candidate when you have some friends over to play minigames. Not all of these games carry a replay value but those who do are arguably one of the best efforts in the series. They can be compared to Nintendo’s own Mario Party with its addictive minigames.
Sega has done a lot to improve this year’s Mario & Sonic outing. The story mode had so much potential but the pacing is ruined by some tedious minigames and a lackluster progression system. This brings us to the multiplayer aspect of the game, which is fantastic. Ideally, there are not many games similar to this one and who could deny a crossover of Mario with Sonic, so this is a good gift for kids in the holiday season if you are looking for a game to get them on the Nintendo Switch.