I wasn’t sure what to expect from Mario & Sonic At The Olympic Games when I first agreed to cover it. Honestly, this is often the best time to cover a game. With no preconceptions, you can embrace the game for what it is. I also don’t think I have played a game like this since Daly Thompson’s Decathlon back on the ZX Spectrum.
As such, I was shocked by how fast all those old feelings came rushing back as I rapidly bashed some buttons to try and get a faster sprint time. I continually failed again and again to get the disc to fly any distance down the field. Mostly I rapidly got that lovely feeling I usually expect to get from Nintendo games, which is just that general sense of fun and enjoyment.
Mario and Sonic At The Olympic Games contain a whole host of different events based on real-world Olympics sports, and some that are a little less grounded in reality. It’s set up to be incredibly easy to start playing different events with friends, and you can tell that aim here is to make a great party game.
You can all play on the same console, connect your consoles locally, or play online together. Events are quick, and the competition for bragging rights will be high. There is also a story mode, and rather than get shoehorned in it is quite endearing.
The events don’t all boil down to button bashing either. There is a lot of skill involved in games like the high-dive, or the disc throw, and nailing your performance feels fantastic. There is a vast “just one more event” element to how this is all designed. It rapidly shuttles you into and out of events, so you never get bored of doing the same thing or watching a loading screen.
Dr. Eggman and Bowser have a plan to send Sonic and Mario back in time and trap them there, but it goes wrong, and the two villains get sent back with them. When you are in the past, the game takes on a classic 2D Nintendo visual style, and you end up competing against Dr. Eggman and Bowser in the 1964 Olympics.
One nice touch is small information booths dotted around the game that teach you facts about the Olympics. It is little touches like this that show the thought and effort that went into something that isn’t just trying to tie into a worldwide event but is also trying to teach people about it too.
The present-day gameplay is about what you would expect from Nintendo. All bright colors and lush design, but there is something nice and engaging about the old-school graphics and music that plays in these sections from 1964. The story plays out, it seems we will be trying to rescue Mario and Sonic from the past. However, I won’t be touching on anything like that until I review the game closer to release.
For now, what I see in Mario & Sonic At The Olympic Games is a deftly designed party game that is going to tie in well with the enhanced portability of the Switch Lite. Just bring your copy to your friends, and then set up your own little Olympics where you compete across multiple events.