The ‘Mario and Sonic’ Rivalry Makes a Global Return for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics

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Published September 25, 2019
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The official promo art of "Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020." Photo courtesy of Nintendo and Sega.

After the release of “Mario and Sonic at the Rio Olympic Games 2016” for the Nintendo Wii U, many have speculated a “Mario and Sonic at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games” announcement at E3 2018. This title was never confirmed and has left fans like myself wondering, “Have Nintendo and Sega already given up on the franchise?”

Fast forward to today and it is safe to say that the two iconic gaming companies have not given up on the project just yet. It was at E3 2019 when Nintendo announced the sixth entry to the series bearing the title, “Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.”

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A first look at that new mode with 8-bit and 16-bit character designs. Photo courtesy of Nintendo and Sega.

While the first look showcased new Olympic events such as sports climbing, skateboarding and surfing, the biggest reveal was a new mode featuring the characters in an 8-bit and 16-bit art style. It was shown very briefly, so no one knew what it was at first glance.

However, a separate trailer revealed it to be a new 2D classic mode where players can experience arcade-like Olympic events, similar to that of the Nintendo Entertainment System’s “Track and Field.” Some new events shown were the 10-meter platform, volleyball, long jump and what I am most excited for, the marathon.

In addition to these classic events, dream events make a return, but don’t seem to be as prominent as in previous titles such as “Vancouver 2010” and “London 2012.” As of today, “Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020” will feature dream racing, dream shooting and dream karate. It has not yet been confirmed if Nintendo and Sega will be adding more dream events for future downloadable content.

Players are also able to turn off motion controls in the game. This is a huge benefit for those who plainly hate swinging and aiming with their controllers. I have never experienced a problem with motion controls, but I do agree they are not necessary for all events. I am sure many people will have a fun time exploring which option works best for them.

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Luigi, Tails, Bowser Jr. and Dr. Eggman Nega stare at the retro game system in disbelief. Photo courtesy of Nintendo and Sega.

In terms of story mode, Mario, Sonic and Toad will be sucked into a retro game system and it will be in Luigi’s and Tails’ hands to save them. Based on recent gameplay, it seems that players will be controlling these characters at different times.

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Mario, Sonic, Luigi and Tails shown in a four player split screen. Each of them are doing different tasks that affect story mode. Photo courtesy of Nintendo and Sega.

Mario and Sonic will be interacting in the video game world while Luigi and Tails will be stuck outside, exploring the real world to gather clues. Despite it sounding a bit cheesy, the new story mode seems promising and looks to have more depth than the previous console entries.

The most interesting news is that Mario and Sonic will finally enter the competitive scene. Players are now able to compete in online ranked matches. They will be paired up with other players who share the same skill levels. Depending on the event, there can be between two and eight players competing at the same time.

In contrast, the game will feature a casual online mode, and a local wireless mode in case players are not in the mood for intense challenges. Additionally, the game plays in both tabletop and handheld mode.

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A sneak peak of what the marathon event looks like featuring Sonic the Hedgehog. Photo courtesy of Nintendo and Sega.

Overall, Nintendo and Sega hit this title out of the virtual ballpark. “Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020” seems to have enough content to keep consumers playing the game for a long time. It will be an appealing title for many, as the game incorporates an array of options for players, such as the unique events and the different controller layouts.

“Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020” is now available for preorder and is set to be released worldwide in November, exclusively for the Nintendo Switch. More information on the game, such as new characters and new events, may be revealed over the next few weeks.

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