Although it looks increasingly likely that international spectators will not be allowed to attend this years’ already-postponed 2020 Olympic Games, Sega’s official video game is available worldwide and hopes to bring some of the much-missed magic of the world’s biggest sporting event to home consoles. Following the lackluster reception of Mario & Sonic’s latest Olympic outing, and bearing in mind the game’s budget price point, expectations for this title were incredibly low. These initial fears were quickly set aside however as, unlike its predecessors, the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020: Official Video Game is jam-packed with enjoyable mini-games in an accessible format perfect for portability and further complimented by a truly great character creator.
Even better, the entire package is dressed up in shiny stylized visuals (which even hold up well on the Nintendo Switch) and finished with a truly admirable degree of polish that is rarely seen outside large first-party titles, let alone in more budget-oriented tie-in games.
At its core, the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020: Official Video Game is a collection of eighteen individual sports mini-games ranging from running events like hurdles and 100m sprints to more unexpected inclusions like baseball and basketball. Loading into each event is prefaced by some brief information regarding the real-world location in which the event would be taking place and some incredibly smooth transition effects that look straight out of an official Olympic highlights reel.
The complexity of each individual event ranges significantly, with simple basic button mashing and occasional timed presses being enough to see your success in events like hurdles and swimming but with the likes of baseball being very strategically deep and presenting a steep learning curve. The result is a game that is easy to pick up and play in short bursts but still containing enough depth to make longer time investment worthwhile.
To that end, each event is separated into three difficulty levels: qualifier, semi-finals, and finals, with the skill of opponents increasing each time. Whilst I found the qualifier and semi-final competitions to be very straightforward for the most part, the final represents a huge spike in difficulty. In fact, I would say that the difficulty in this stage of the competition is disproportionately difficult and I frequently found myself bagging first-place medals in the qualifier and semi-final only to finish last after being effortlessly thrashed in the final.
This is a tad dispiriting, but luckily completing scoring well in events awards XP based on difficulty and this can be invested back into your character stats. There are three basic types of build to focus on; Power, Speed, and Technique, each of which determines your aptitude for their associated events. Your prowess in each category can be increased to one of three unlockable levels. Skills can be adjusted on the fly via the character editor screen and tweaking your setup between different event types is a great way to overcome some of the harder challenges you are faced with. For players who want to purely focus on the games themselves, however, it is perfectly possible, although difficult, to find success in every type of competition without ever changing your character’s base stats or just sticking to the easier practice mode.
While everything is very enjoyable against a computer, as a party game at its heart, all modes are also available to tackle with friends through a combination of competitive online play and local co-op modes. You can play co-op entirely locally against AI, perfect for entertaining your annoying cousins at the next family gathering or move on to the higher-stakes task of tackling online leaderboards either by yourself or with a local co-op partner. This makes the Switch version of the game a particularly enticing proposition thanks to its inherent dual-controller setup.
The Finish Line
Unfortunately, not all events are created equal and there are one or two disappointingly unenjoyable inclusions in the roster. The choice to include very condensed versions of team sports like basketball and rugby is a little bizarre, and although they can be entertaining bursts of adrenaline at first the time constraints make them incredibly limited and they soon overstay their welcome. It’s also very unfortunate that a number of games I expected to be present, particularly archery and shooting, are disappointingly absent but I suppose some content limitations are to be expected at the price point. Luckily loading times are impressively snappy throughout, often near-instant, meaning that it’s very easy to swap between the included events as you go to keep things varied and prevent yourself from ever getting bored.
Graphically, the game also looks the part with colorful, semi-realistic stylized visuals. I was a little disappointed by the choice to include no real-life athletes to compete with, but this opens the door to experimentation with the truly excellent character creator. Not only the player character but entire teams can be tweaked. This includes changing uniforms on a per-event basis, appearances, and even their individual stats. There are a number of delightfully light-hearted options in this creator too, including the now-infamous slightly unsettling Sonic the Hedgehog costume, and I was quick to fill team GB with an eye-catching array of entertainingly dressed weirdos which managed to keep my childish side amused to no end.
Olympic Games Tokyo 2020: Official Video Game Review | An Absolute Win
Against all odds, the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020: Official Video Game is one of the best arcade sports titles we’ve seen in years. An excellent character creator, great array of minigames, and a shocking degree of depth elevate this title far above its competition. You might not be able to attend the Olympics this year, but the official videogame is not to be missed out on.
A copy of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020: Official Video Game for Nintendo Switch was provided to TechRaptor by the publisher. The game is also available on PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Google Stadia.
- An Enjoyable Selection of Sports Minigames
- Online, Local Co-op, and Single Player Modes Available
- Detailed Character Customization and Build Tweaking
- Some Expected Events are Missing
- Steep Difficulty Curve