A year after COVID slammed the breaks on the Tokyo Olympic Games, days out from the opening ceremony. To coincide with the game’s commencement comes the latest of the Olympic Series from Sega, Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 – The Official Video Game and I had the opportunity to put it through its paces and test out my own ‘athletic abilities’ on the PlayStation version.
First released in Japan back in 2019 and with a worldwide release last month in June 2021, Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 is a game I would not normally go for. Starting out, there is the classic character creation. The amount of detail you can put into your character is quite astonishing. Most players could easily spend a considerable amount of time tweaking and modifying their avatar to be as close to or as far from their own likeness as they wish. With your avatar created, you can dive right in and compete in your first Olympic Event. Not only can you create your own avatar, but you can also dive in and fit out your entire team from your country of choice.
The game consists of eighteen sports that range from your classic Athletics to some of the newer disciplines of the modern era with BMX Racing and Sport Climbing. I tried my hand at the first sport on the list in the 100m Sprint. It became immediately clear to me that this game would be a mix of button mashing and reflexes. Right from the get-go, you are instructed to mash X as quickly as possible to speed up your athlete. After the first heat that I smashed through quick, I was given a trophy for completing my first race and coming first in my first event. As I progressed through the second race to the final third race, I got absolutely smashed by the NPCs. I tried and tried, but I couldn’t do any better. I soon discovered that I could upgrade my athletes’ abilities with the points earned from each race.
After button mashing my way through the 100m, I had a go at the 110m Hurdles. Yup, more button mashing. 4x100m Relay, again, more button mashing. It was not until I tried the Aquatics that the game introduced a new skill, rhythm. As you guide your swimmer down the pool lane, you flick the joysticks in a rhythmic motion to speed up. Perfectly timed turns and triggered boosts ensure a victory. However, as like the athletics, the two swimming events become increasingly difficult as you reach the finals.
Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 is not all mindless button mashing. I found the ball sports more exciting to participate in as they involved a wider range of skill. Having never played an NBA game before in my life, the Basketball was, at first, quite janky and difficult to follow. But once you get your hand at passing and defending, it quickly became one of the favourites out of the sports available. If you score enough during the quick quarters, you fill up your primary athlete’s skill meter and can perform a special dunk. It was quite satisfying triggering this skill and leaping over the opponents to smash home 2 points in an epic dunk. However, the constant instant replays after every point become tiresome very quickly. The Table Tennis, Tennis and Volleyball were equally as fun to play. The quick reflexes required to hit the ball back added more dynamic to the gameplay. Personally, Basketball and Table Tennis are my favourites.
There is more than just mindless single player, you can invite a friend to some couch co-op and duke it out against each other in all the events. Boxing and Judo is definitely a lot more fun when you are fighting against another human and not an AI. You can join forces in the team events or become bitter rivals. Multiplayer surprisingly lifts the games playability, as does the online aspect of the game. You can compete in casual match ups or try your hand and some of the ranked events and test out your teams’ overall abilities with other players from around the world.
One thing that I did notice about this game is that each event is unisex. There are no male or female events. You are competing against athletes and their look or sex does not depict their potential abilities or possible hinderance, which I felt was pretty damn cool. In addition, the broad diversity available through the character customisations make this game one for everyone.
Overall, Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 is a fun game to play but after an hour or two of button mashing through each event, I found myself getting fatigued to the point my thumb was actually hurting. Sadly, I do not think I will be playing too much more of this game on my own, it might be one I would whip out to have some fun with a friend. Even then, it does get tiresome quickly. I feel you need to really put in the hard yards to boost your character abilities and I really do not see myself doing that. However, there will be many gamers out there that will adore this game and is definitely one for the family or a group of mates. This was clear by how quickly I matched online and how unique the avatars were. So, if sports games are your thing, then Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 might just be the game for you.
Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 – The Official Game is available now on all platforms via their respective digital stores. Physical copies are also available from your local game retailer.