Next month the Olympic Games take place in Tokyo. Whether that’s the right or wrong choice given the current global pandemic is not the focus of this review. What is though, are some of the choices that Sega made in making the official gaming title for the event – Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.
We were intrigued to play this title, namely as the game was meant to be released last year, but for obvious reasons, did not. Instead it’s out with a month to go until the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games, so we were interested in a few things, such as any reference being made to the pandemic or whether there is any accuracy to how events are portrayed.
Unfortunately we were zero for two on those fronts, as Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 is not what he had in mind when thinking about an official Olympics game.
Instead, this Sega offering tries to be cute. What one may even call kawaii, utilising as Wii Sports-esque approach to things that is designed to get people playing with one another. If you’re wanting a game that tries to make you the next Wayde van Niekerk, this ain’t it.
What is served up, however, is a sports title that tries not to take itself too seriously while injecting some fun into an event that has been a long time coming.
So is it worthwhile picking up Olympic Games Tokyo 2020? We give our opinion below.
A cute avatar
Before we give a yea or nay, let’s talk a bit about the first few steps of the setup process.
Once you get through an opening cinematic that sees a bunch of photogenic people transform from real life into avatars, you get to create one of your own. You can select things like nationality, gender, build and proficiency, along with a relatively extensive list of customisations to create something that is an approximation of you.
If you’re wondering if Russia is one of the countries you can choose, it is, which means Sega opted to not be political in this game despite the Russian Federation being banned from the next two Olympic Games.
Perhaps we are being a little harsh though, as this game is designed to be fun and not a serious or realistic take on the games itself.
After you’ve crafted your avatar to the desired specification, it’s time to start exploring the options available, with local and online play added to the mix. You can also explore the rest of your nation’s team, made up of men and women, who will play alongside you during team events like football or 7’s Rugby. This roster can be changed, along with being able to purchase costumes for your and other players to wear during different events.
As you can see from the header image, we donned a Sonic costume to play 7’s Rugby. It was particular enjoyable when we activated the special move and burned the opposition on the way to scoring a try.
A decent amount of events
Shifting to the events themselves, there are 18 to choose from, all of which are actual events at the Games. It runs a nice gamut, with things like BMX, Sport Climbing and Judo appearing next to the likes of the 4x100m Relay, Tennis and Baseball.
There is also a unique presentation to each. The 100m Sprint, 110m Hurdles and 4x100m Relay for example, are all from different perspectives to each one feel unique. The same goes for Tennis and Table Tennis, as well as the 100m Freestyle and 200m Individual Medley.
As for the controls, they are fairly easy to pick up and rather intuitive. There’s also a quick three or four step tutorial guide in the Practice Mode to help you along. We were also pleased to see that the gameplay across the board does not amount to button mashing. Sure, you need to spam X (PS4/PS5) in sprinting events, but there are other elements like charging up in the starting blocks and having to get a quicktime event right in order to keep your speed and momentum in the final quarter of the race.
The only event that proved troublesome was the Sport Climbing, which involved the use of analogue sticks that felt more luck of the draw than precise.
We should also point out that you should not expect sharp gameplay. Sure, you can perform side steps and swerves in something like the 7’s Rugby, but the players do often run around like headless chickens at points, especially when the ball is knocked on or falls to the ground.
All in all though, there is enjoyment to be had, it simply won’t offer the depth and desire for repeated play that some may be wanting.
Coming in at under R600 depending on where you buy it from locally, the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 is not for everyone. Those wanting a realistic representation of the Games need to get their fix elsewhere. If you’re wanting an unpretentious and just plain fun experience to tide you over while the real Olympics are on, then this title should hit the mark.
The only issue is longevity, as it will likely gather dust post-Games, unlike other Party or Wii Sports-esque offerings which would have longer lasting appeal.
If you can spare the R600, then go for it. Otherwise wait for a significant price drop or free availability to get your Olympian on.
Olympic Games Tokyo 2020
It may be official, but this Sega-made Olympics title focuses more on fun and kawaii avatars than a realistic representation of events at the Games. If you fall into the latter category, look elsewhere. If however, you're in the former, then a few good hours of fun can be eked out of this offering.