Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 is lacking one feature people who have gone through past entries might miss. That is, there’s no way to, well, recreate the actual Olympics. Unlike Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games, which had a Festival mode that recreated the whole Olympics, or Mario & Sonic at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games, with its Medley Mania for multiple games, there’s no option to go through multiple games in a row and have your ensuing totals determine your ranking among friends. Since “quick play,” which sends you through one event before tasking you with another, is the way things work this year, its story mode is the one taking you through multiple events. With it, players get to a chance to sample a little of everything.
The Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 begins with Bowser and Dr. Eggman up to their usual schemes. The two want to trap Mario and Sonic inside of a Tokyo 64 game machine. Except Bowser gets impatient, storms over, and gets Dr. Eggman, Mario, Sonic, Toad, and himself trapped inside of the Tokyo 1964 retro Olympics. Since Magikoopa was involved in the creation of the game, getting everyone out doesn’t seem so simple, and Luigi is stuck with the device in the real world, trying to find people who might be able to help bust Mario and Sonic out. Except Dr. Eggman did program in a failsafe that would allow people who collect enough gold medals a means of escaping, while Luigi keeps running into people who stymie his progress by insisting he or the folks in his gradually growing entourage participate in events with them.
This primarily serves as an excuse for a single player to go through 2020 and 1964 events. As you go through each chapter, there tends to be a back and forth. For example, the game begins with Sonic and Dr. Eggman competing in the retro 100m dash. Then, in the real world, Luigi has to beat Amy in the 100m dash to find out where Tails went. You find out that Tails was supposed to be with Daisy, but now she’s participating in the gymnastics floor exercises. Once Amy beats her, you all head to finally find Tails at the skateboarding event. Except, you have to beat him before you can finally explain what happened to Mario and Sonic. At this point, the game switches to Mario having to beat Bowser at the long jump. It may not be an exactly even divide, since there are only ten retro events and 21 standard events, but there’s a pattern that works and keeps things from feeling like you are going through too many similar events in a row.
Since this isn’t a traditional Olympics story mode, with the characters actually competing for honor and glory, that frees things up a bit. When people aren’t immediately participating in an event, they can roam around different 1964 and 2020 areas. This provides a chance to learn trivia about the Olympics or the Sonic the Hedgehog and Super Mario series. There is some flavor text that comes from talking to different individuals. Plus, this provides an excuse to include nontraditional activities. While you can quick play any of the 1964, 2020, and Dream events, there are five 1964 and five 2020 minigames you happen upon during the story that aren’t related to any sorts of sports. Instead, they’re more like boss battles or excuses to advance the story.
Going through Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020’s story mode is also a necessary evil if someone would want access to everything in the game. There are guest characters appearing again in this game for certain events. However, they aren’t accessible until you encounter them in the campaign. Since you can’t skip over story segments here and have to let things play out, it could take quite a bit of time to add all of the extra characters, like Rogue the Bat or Toadette, as playable characters for their designated events.
The Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 campaign is a means of exposing players to everything the game has to offer. It lets people go through different events, test out different characters, and even build up their Olympic knowledge. It is also a mandatory activity for people who want all of the guest characters available for activities like Fencing or Triple Jump. Someone might want to dedicate some time playing through it and preparing the game so when they do get together with friends, it’s completely ready.
Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 is available on the Nintendo Switch in Japan and North America. It will come to Europe on November 8, 2019.