Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 The Official Video Game isn't a terrible tie-in game, but it's hardly the gold standard. Its pick-up-and-play nature lends it to local or online play. Single-players will find it sparse, and at times, frustrating.
Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 The Official Video Game (hereafter known as Tokyo 2020) is better than a lot of tie-in games, but at the same time, it doesn’t exactly set a great new standard for them.
It’s also probably the first sports tie-in game that has been released around a cancelled event. Well, technically the Olympic Games in Tokyo were delayed rather than cancelled — they’re due to kick off at the end of this month, after the COVID-19 pandemic made the competition last year pretty much impossible.
Olympic Games in Day-Glo
The trials and tribulations humankind had to endure last year are thankfully absent from Tokyo 2020, which comes wrapped in a cartoon-like veneer very much reminiscent of EA’s recent hit Knockout City. The characters players can create don’t look anywhere near as bonkers, but no one is ever going to mistake them for human athletes.
On booting up the game, players are greeted with a tonne of customisation options for their avatar, beyond which country they wish to represent. They can opt for the traditional athlete’s outfit — spandex in the colours of their nation’s flag — or they can go off-piste if they’ve racked up enough in-game earnings.
These credits enable them to unlock a rather decent selection of costumes and accessories to clothe their avatar, which makes the proceedings pretty silly. Ever wanted to win a Judo tournament dressed as a pirate? Or play a game of rugby sevens in just your underwear and a crash helmet? Or win the 100m dash dressed as Sonic The Hedgehog? Well, if you have — you strange person, you — now’s your chance.
Baby’s first Olympics
Beyond the cosmetics, Tokyo 2020 boasts eighteen mini-games running the gamut from traditional track and field (hurdled, hammer throw, long jump and the like) to more varied sports (such as baseball, basketball, judo and table tennis) to some sports you may not have known were even part of the Olympic Games (climbing and BMX biking stand out here).
Eagle-eyed fans of this event will notice there are a lot of sports missing from this list and some of them are real head-scratchers — no gymnastics, or diving, or skateboarding (which totally lends itself to this package). That said, what’s on offer is pretty decent. Well, it is for a bit, but it’s doubtful it’ll hold anyone’s attention who either doesn’t go online or has mates in their abode they can play locally with.
The reason for this is that a lot of the gaming mechanics in a lot of these events simply amounts to button-mashing mixed with the odd-timed jump. This is to be expected in events like the 100m dash or hurdles, but to find this was the case in both judo and BMX biking was a bit of a disappointment.
Sports such as tennis, baseball and basketball take a little more finesse, but the controls still feel both simplistic and clunky at the same time. Basketball, for example, will have NBA 2K regulars going cross-eyed. On the one hand, ditching a player marking you is as easy as running left and then right. On the other, passing feels finicky at best; long passes invariably end up out of bounds and facing a player and hitting pass doesn’t guarantee the ball will end up in their hands.
Sega is obviously going for an easy ‘pick-up-and-play family-orientated affair with Tokyo 2020, but in single-player mode, this comes with a couple of problems, the first being the difficulty curve.
Each event is divided into three stages and the first of these has players going up against an AI that feels, for want of a better word, lobotomised. The second round is a little more challenging and feels like the AI is actually making an effort. This doesn’t prepare players for round three, in which the AI is likely to beat on them like an unwanted stepchild.
On top of this, players have to win matches/events in order to unlock playing tips, which they can view in a separate menu. Why Sega took the decision to put what basically amounts to pieces of tutorials behind a grind-wall is anyone’s guess. Perhaps they hope to keep players playing in the hopes of getting better at the game?
To be honest, Tokyo 2020 only really comes into its own when players are matched with human opponents, whether online or locally. The reason for this is that everyone is in the same boat, clunky mechanics and all, and it’s doubtful that a human competitor will serve up anything approaching the pain dished out by the AI in the third round of any event.
Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 The Official Video Game – Verdict
Tokyo 2020, then, is serviceable. It works well as family entertainment or as a quick knock around locally and online. Beyond that, however, there’s not very much here to keep players entertained for more than an hour or two. Those players who are deeply into their sports games – NBA 2K, FIFA, MLB: The Show and the like – are advised to look elsewhere.
- Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 The Official Video Game was reviewed on a PlayStation 4
- This game’s review code was provided by Gamefinity.