As we get closer to the oddity that is going to be the (hopefully somewhat safe) Tokyo Summer Olympics, video game fans will turn to our consoles to participate in the same events they are about to see take place in real life and on TV. This is where Sega’s Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 – The Official Video Game comes into play — and where this review comes into play as well.
This game was obviously slated to come out last year to coincide with the real Olympics, but both the real games and the video game were postponed due to a worldwide pandemic. It’s still unclear how ready Tokyo is to host some of the best athletes in the world, but Sega and Tokyo are both full steam ahead. With that in mind, let’s chat about whether Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 – The Official Video Game was worth the wait.
What I Like – Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 Review
Whether I wanted to experience the Tokyo Summer Olympics by myself, with friends, or battle against a bunch of online randoms, I was given that opportunity. I could choose to run each event concurrently, randomly, or pick and choose what I wanted to participate in without any time constraints.
Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 also boasts a rather deep character creation suite. It allows you to suit your character up with the standard fare, or go as crazy as applying a full-size Sonic costume as you compete with some of the best athletes in the world.
I had the option to play one event repeatedly without the constraints of linearity, or I could change the difficulty of each event based on my preferences.
TSO could have used a few more options like a true Olympics mode (I will address this later), or the ability to change the time or length of some of the events. Regardless, the game does a solid job of letting you play how you want, against who you want, and the style you want.
Initially, I was a bit put off by the cartoon-like graphics, but the more I played the game, the more the style fits in rather well with the whole concept. It is a style that blends the Sonic Olympics games and real life, and the outcome is both visually appealing and conveys a rather semi-competitive but fun type of atmosphere.
You will see no instances of people crashing to their knees in defeat as the reality of watching their Olympics dreams fade away in front of them, but rather your avatars sink their head and give off some rather lighthearted signs of disappointment.
As I mentioned before, the graphics are a bit absurdist, but that does not mean that the venues are poorly crafted. Whether it is in the pool, on the pitch, in the ring, or on the track, each and every venue in Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 is well constructed, detailed, and extremely vibrant.
Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 takes a rather fun and wholesome approach to the games with this release, and the competitors emulate that style oh so well. Some may not like this approach, but this game is made for gamers of all ages and skillsets, and the graphic style fits perfectly within that world.
If you are an older gamer, like me, you will remember older Olympic efforts from previous developers that pretty much included every event that was popular — and a few that were frustrating and were the root cause of new controller purchases.
Games like Track and Field, Lillehammer ’94, and London 2012 — which featured an amazing 31 events, and real locales and athletes — all had their positives and negatives, but provided a lot of fun during your journey.
While TSO does not quite reach that level of excellence or frustration, it offers up a strong set of events that can be enjoyed both through single and multiplayer.
Now that said, there are some events that just play out better both on-screen and through the controller. I had a blast attempting the 100M dash, 400M relay, the swimming events, and even basketball and volleyball offered up some intriguing mechanics that, if properly fleshed out, could have been incredibly fun.
I say properly fleshed out because most events in TSO offer at least a decent amount of fun once you learn the mechanics. Still, it feels like the developers could have included a couple more events and tweaked the mechanics of a few others to offer a higher level of fun and depth.
My only other complaint about the events is the fact that the options to determine the time and length of each event are set and cannot be changed. While this works for some events, it diminished the level of fun in other events.
In the end, there are enough events and a level of fun that kept me coming back often enough, but a bit more time in development and TSO could have been an all-time Olympic favorite of mine.
You will see a theme throughout this review, and that theme is based on simplicity and accessibility. The approach taken by the developers both graphically and mechanically invokes the idea that anyone of any age and skill can pick up a controller and find a level of fun and enjoyment with TSO, and that is true for the most part.
Yes, some of the event controls feel strangely stiff and mechanical, but they will feel that way regardless of how good you are at games. TSO sets a level playing field for people of all ages and all abilities to give them the chance to enjoy a level of success against the AI and each other.
I mentioned earlier that many of the events provide basic controls for guiding your character through each task at hand, and that is true. That said, with a couple of the sports I came away wanting a different control mechanic or scheme.
Overall, though, TSO offers a simplistic/watered down control system that provides more of a pick-up-and-play feeling, and a basic universal control scheme that covers most events with very few variants to them.
The idea of including so many events in a single game is always welcomed, and for the most part TSO delivers an easy-to-use interface that puts the emphasis on fun rather than on taking classes at the annex to understand how to control your character.
What I Don’t Like – Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 Review
Unless you have built-in friends and family who are readily available to play at any moment or want to navigate the world of multiplayer, the AI becomes pretty darn important.
While there are glimpses of solid AI competition smattered throughout TSO, I often found them to be way too easy or a bit too hard. In short, I was constantly trying to find a sweet spot between each event.
The difference between each event and the AI’s ability in those events is really where the core problem resides. In one event you will find yourself smoking the competition, but then the next will have your head spinning as you try to figure out what herd of cattle just ran you over without any notice.
The inconsistent AI issue is not what I would describe as a game killer, but it’s absolutely noticeable during both the single-player and co-op experience.
TSO is clearly a mid-tier title made on a budget, but it has a lot of moving parts to connect cohesively as a single unit. That is a tough task for a developer with an unlimited budget, let alone one that is clearly working within a limited financial capacity.
Yes, there are 14 events to partake in, and some of those events include the likes of soccer, baseball, boxing, and table tennis — and that is admirable. Still, though, I have legit concerns about the lack of depth within TSO.
Whether you are playing online, co-op, or single player, there are moments of high-level entertainment, but those moments are fleeting. I mean, how many times can you run the 100M dash before déjà vu starts to set in?
Also, there is no true Olympic mode that places you in the Games as multiple athletes representing an individual country in pursuit of as many medals as possible. In TSO, you play as your created character and will compete in every event as the same person, with the exception being an event that requires multiple players such as the relays, basketball, or baseball.
TSO is accessible and does provide some entertainment, just not the type that I will want to play again and again weeks from now.
Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 offers up a solid experience and some decent fun, but a lack of depth and modes might hold it back from being a must-buy to enhance your Olympics viewing experience. Some odd mechanics, inconsistent AI difficulty, and depth of modes and gameplay are the core problems that come attached to this Olympic counterpart from Sega.
Whether your idea of fun comes in the form of single player, co-op, or multiplayer, Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 does have you covered there. At times, Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 is everything I hoped it would be, but in the end it comes up a bit short of gold or even silver. But hey, a bronze medal is still a medal.