There is no doubt that it has been a very different Olympic season this year. With a pandemic, controversy, and so on – most have kind of been playing catch-up instead of indulging in the worldwide event. Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 – The Official Video Game comes from Sega to the west two years after seeing a launch in Japan, and this time there is no real mascot fare, with a focus on the games overall, rather than trying to make a branded experience that we come to expect. How does this compilation fare? Let’s find out.
Of course, there is no story within Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. No hype for the events, no commercials, and so on. What we get here is a very simple take on several sports, with little fanfare otherwise to create an atmosphere of competition. Yes, it is different, but not necessarily bad by any means. Players can hop in any sport of their choosing, pick a team, and go to work in what feels like a more multiplayer focused experience that is built around accessibility rather than simulation. This makes the game more akin to the Olympic titles of the past, rather than the depth-heavy sports title we are accustomed to. Sure, you may not get to see you favorite athletes, but those wanting to get a little slice of the Olympics are actually in for a more pure and polished title here – with a more arcade feel that captures those easy, thrown-together sports romps of the past.
Despite the simplicity, there is a good amount of content to find within Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 – The Official Video Game. Players can choose from track and field, swimming, boxing, judo, football, basketball, and so on to get a quick fix, where one or several can jump in and just play a very generic version of the sport. I was actually surprised of how well most of these games play, as despite the lack of presentation or excitement, I could easily compare this mix to the Mario vs Sonic franchise of the past, but without those famed mascots to give it character outside of a few goofy recreations and suits.
The games themselves are extremely easy to pick up and play. Most rely on single or multi-button prompts, such as track – where the player taps a button or utilize standard control to move their character. Things get a bit more complex when it comes to multi-man sports such as football or basketball, with more techniques tied in such as boosts and power-ups that give the edge on the court or field. The bells and whistles that are missing do make the single player experience feel limited despite the variety, but for those wanting this game for a more family-centric session – this may be the sports game you have been waiting for as it can be a lot of fun competing against non-AI players.
There are various customization options to add some depth. Here you can make a chubby little character, or stick to a slim, athletic type with the ability to make characters look the way you intended. Again, it’s not too deep, but certainly enough to at least make an avatar and hit the games running (no pun intended). I think Sega were planning a lot more for this title or perhaps it was built with older assets from past fare, but Olympic Games 2020 is too competent to overlook for anyone watching the games with a desire to scratch their Olympic itch for a small period of time.
Remember the avatars from Xbox Live years ago? That is what the character models mostly resemble. There is no sweat, no crazy physics, but instead a smooth character model that appears generic from afar, set in decently crafted environments that seamlessly build a feel for whatever sport you may be playing. In some ways, the environments outshine all other visuals, as upon first boot-up – I was getting a lot of Wii nostalgia. Remember those Wii Sports clones that were not from Nintendo? It’s kind of like that visually, but with more polish and fluid animations.
The audio is fine for what it is. While there isn’t a stellar soundtrack, there are little grunts, character voices, and even a virtual crowd that give you the arena ambience. Without the commentary and commercialization, it just doesn’t sound like the same Olympic experience we know and love. This does bring the focus back on the sports, which kind of brings a Clubhouse Games type of delivery to the game, where you are just playing to challenge a friend without the need to taunt or gloat after victories in-game.
While generic, Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 – The Official Video Game is a compilation of sports that performs well. Considering the budget price and the delays, I personally think it is more than what we could have asked for from any Olympics game, and let’s face it – we don’t see a lot titles built like this due to the over-saturation that occurred during previous generations. If you are wanting gold here, you may be disappointed. Those open-minded enough to settle for a fun time in a game that represents our industry’s participation trophy of the event will be pleased however, as this title hits all the right notes where it matters, and makes for the perfect sports game to players who are more watchers than players.