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Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 is the Mario Party game we’ve been waiting for

Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 goes for the gold.

Mario and sonic and the olympics 2020
Image: Josh Knowles / KnowTechie

Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 comes out today and probably isn’t on your radar at all. I wouldn’t expect it to be, the last few games in the Mario & Sonic series have been middling at best. While it did get a spot during the September Nintendo Direct, I don’t think many of us paid it much attention.

Funny thing is, SEGA somehow made a better Mario Party than Nintendo’s last attempt at their own flagship party game series.

Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 does something that prior games really haven’t been able to do

Mario and sonic olympics 2020

Image: Josh Knowles / KnowTechie

It is able to capitalize on a bunch of fun mini-games with style and personality that generally only seems to be reserved for first-party Nintendo titles. I found myself enjoying Mario & Sonic 2020’s story mode, which was something Super Mario Party lacked. My family and I had a blast playing through the massive selection of games with various control options. Mario & Sonic 2020 is better than I expected it to be.

Mario & Sonic 2020’s story mode is a fun way to learn about Japan’s Olympic history, learn the ropes with the games and read a lot of text. In the story, Mario, Sonic and a few others get sucked into the Tokyo ’64 game console. This transports the group to the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games where they take the form of their original 8-bit and 16-bit sprites. They decide to compete in the games (because why not?) while the others that didn’t get zapped compete in the 2020 games while trying to figure out how to save their friends.

It’s silly but also contrasts how the games in the retro and 3D worlds differ.

The real magic happens when you play with others

Mario and sonic olympics 2020

Image: Josh Knowles / KnowTechie

When I played with my kids, we initially stuck to the 1964 games as they are much more straightforward and generally require less input. Games like the 10m platform allowed me to take risks with more complex dives with longer input combinations while my kids could pick shorter, easier ones. A majority of the ’64 games require simple holds, taps or timed presses. Once they got the hang of it, the group could easily compete with me. I could also pick different control options so my youngest could find something that worked for him too.

The 2020 games offer a lot more in variety and interactivity. One of my favorite events to play by myself or competitively with others was the skateboarding event. You move your character in the 3D space, jump off of ramps and land sick tricks with directional button input. In some ways, it really does tap into Tony Hawk Pro Skater. The 2020 events are a bit more complex, with special inputs to get advantages and use a lot more of the Joy-Con. Boosts and special meters really spice up the action and make the 2020 game variants feel unique.

I got to bust the game out with some friends last weekend and their impressions matched mine. Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 reminds you of those sessions you’d have with friends before days of online play. Yes, Mario & Sonic 2020 does include the option to play online but you will find that the best moments are sitting on a couch, passing the controller or going head to head.

With the variety of games available, there is way less burnout than in Super Mario Party. Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 offers something for everyone and is a solid recommendation for the upcoming holiday family get-togethers (that isn’t Smash Bros). If you have a Switch, you should absolutely check this one out!

Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 is now available for the Nintendo Switch.

What do you think? Plan on trying out this title on your Nintendo Switch? Let us know down below in the comments or carry the discussion over to our Twitter or Facebook.

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Longtime games journalist and Florida resident. I'm a Guinness World Record holder, wordsmith extraordinaire, MOBA fan, devoted dad and husband. I'm here to spread the gospel of video games.

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