Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 review: Go for the gold, Mario!

Mario and Sonic boxing
(Image: © iMore)

iMore Verdict

Bottom line: Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games: Tokyo 2020 is a fun game that will be enjoyed by everyone in the whole family. It features a story-driven single-player mode, Quick Match with tons of mini-games, and up to eight people can compete together through local or online multiplayer.


  • +

    Plenty of content for everyone

  • +

    A nice mix of both modern and retro graphics

  • +

    Features a great character lineup in the roster

  • +

    Freedom with controller options

  • +

    Up to eight people can play with local or online multiplayer


  • -

    Weird controls for some mini-games

  • -

    Just a big collection of Olympic-themed mini-games

You can always trust iMore. Our team of Apple experts have years of experience testing all kinds of tech and gadgets, so you can be sure our recommendations and criticisms are accurate and helpful. Find out more about how we test.

Many of us grew up with Mario and Sonic games as we were growing up with classic consoles, so these are both big-name characters from both Nintendo and SEGA. At one point, it would be rare to find a SEGA game on a Nintendo console, but nowadays, we have crossover games that feature our favorites from both.

With Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, we have large roster of classic characters from both Mario and Sonic games, as well as fan favorites who are competing against each other in a series of athletic mini-games. Think of this as something like Super Mario Party, but with Sonic characters, sports-themed mini-games, a taste of Tokyo, and a blast from the past.

It's a fun crossover game that is meant to get us in the mood for the actual Olympics 2020 that is taking place in Tokyo, Japan next year.

Plenty of fun for everyone

Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games: Tokyo 2020 What I Like

Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games: Tokyo 2020 menu

Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games: Tokyo 2020 menu (Image credit: iMore)

Normally, I am not a big Olympics fan — I'm just not too into sports in general. But hey, when you make the Olympic events into fun little mini-games that I can enjoy with my friends and family, that's a different story. Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games: Tokyo 2020 brings along plenty of content that will keep you and everyone else in the house entertained for some time, and it's a great overall party game.

Meet old and familiar faces Story mode's plot draws you in

The Story mode features a pretty simple plot of Dr. Eggman and Bowser scheming to get Mario and Sonic trapped in a video game machine with no explanation of how to get out of it. However, a turn of events triggers Mario, Sonic, Bowser, and Dr. Eggman getting sucked into the game machine, which is a recreation of the Olympic Games 1964, which were also held in Tokyo. It's revealed that the only way to get out of the game is to collect as many gold medals as possible, so you'll need to compete with Dr. Eggman and Bowser for the gold and freedom.

Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games: Tokyo 2020 map of Tokyo

Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games: Tokyo 2020 map of Tokyo (Image credit: iMore)

Meanwhile, back in the modern world, Mario and Sonic's friends are trying to figure out how to rescue them, but it eventually ends up being a cat-and-mouse game between Bowser Jr. and everyone, because he ends up with the game.

In the Story mode, you'll go through a map of Tokyo and each stage features a challenge that you'll need to win and complete in order to move on with the story. These are pretty much sporting mini-games, and while the controls for each one are different (depending on the event), they usually only involve a few buttons at a time. Plus, a tutorial before the start of each event tells you exactly what you need to do, which I appreciated. The goal is to beat the pre-determined score of your opponent or be the first to cross the finish line, depending on the event.

Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games: Tokyo 2020 challenge

Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games: Tokyo 2020 challenge (Image credit: iMore)

Since the missions in Story mode just involve completing a challenge before you move on, it's possible to enjoy it in quick play sessions, or you can go for a good hour or two and make great progress thanks to the game's auto-save feature.

The story is broken up into chapters and you'll be switching between the 1964 2D Olympic events as well as the modern games. It's nice having both vintage and current-day graphics of classic characters switch off seamlessly with each other.

Quick Match is perfect for fast sessions Get competitive with friends

If you don't feel like going through the Story mode and all of the cutscenes it comes with, then Quick Match is what you want. This mode allows you to play either by yourself or with up to three other people (four total), and you can choose from over 30 sports mini-games spread out across Tokyo 2020 (3D) or Tokyo 1964 (2D).

Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games: Tokyo 2020 Character Select screen

Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games: Tokyo 2020 Character Select screen (Image credit: iMore)

When you choose a game, the character select screen lets you pick out who you want to use in the event, and each character has their strengths and weaknesses. As you check out each character on the roster, you'll see what they're good at, such as "Runs Fast," "Fast start," "Easier Best Angle," and more, depending on what event you choose. When it comes to events like the 4-person relay race, you'll want to make sure that you pick your characters based on their strengths in the right order, as it definitely helps you get good results.

Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games: Tokyo 2020 is full of family fun for everyone, is flexible with controls, and has a lot of content to go through with up to seven friends locally or online.

The Quick Match events have you competing with the other competitors in real-time, so think of it like a Mario Kart race. Since a lot of the events are basically just repeatedly pushing the same few buttons to move or do actions, you'll want to get ready for some intense button mashing here. For some events, like races, that's the only way to win, so get smashing!

Play your way Plenty of controller options to play with

One thing that I wasn't sure of when I started playing was if the game could just be enjoyed in handheld mode, as that's the mode I usually play in. Fortunately, yes, one of the controller options is buttons only (both Joy-Cons or Pro Controllers), so you don't need to play with motion controls if you don't want, but that option is there too. You can even use a single Joy-Con or pair of Joy-Cons, with up to four people in split-screen multiplayer on one Switch.

Since the game is mostly just mini-games, the controls are relatively easy, no matter how you play. The game also shows you how the controls are for each event before you start, so you're never lost at what to do. This is also great when you play with others since it gives them a chance to learn the controls so everyone is on fair playing grounds.

It's simply another party game

Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games: Tokyo 2020 What I Don't Like

Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games: Tokyo 2020 Dream Racing

Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games: Tokyo 2020 Dream Racing (Image credit: iMore)

If you are looking for a game with depth, then you won't really find it in this game. It's essentially a collection of sports events that are mini-games, and each one won't take more than a few minutes to complete, tops. This makes the game perfect for quick gaming sessions, whether on your own or with some friends, but you won't find much depth here, even with the Story mode.

The Story mode just introduces a new character with almost every new level, and you'll participate in a challenge, and then move on to the next. For me, it got a little repetitive after a while, so I would need to take breaks every so often, especially since most of the events involve pushing one or two buttons repeatedly in quick succession.

Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games: Tokyo 2020 retro hurdles

Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games: Tokyo 2020 retro hurdles (Image credit: iMore)

I also found some of the controls for certain events a bit hard to get down. For example, the Discus Throw didn't have very clear instructions, so it took me numerous failures and experimentation before I figured out how to actually throw it without getting another "Foul." So with some events, it may take a bit more practice to get used to it and actually get the technique down. The "Triple Jump" event was also the same, as I kept getting the timing of my launch wrong, resulting in a Foul every time.

A fun party game for sports and non-sports fans alike

Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games: Tokyo 2020 Bottom Line

I'm not a big sports fan, but I'm enjoying this game for what it is. It may not be a very deep game, but it's great entertainment when you want to play something quick, or just get a few rounds with some friends. Some events are easier than others, but everything can be mastered with some simple practice. And the game is pretty flexible in terms of how you want to play, whether it's handheld, TV, or tabletop mode with the Joy-Cons or Pro Controller.

Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games: Tokyo 2020 has a great mix of Olympic event mini-games in both 1964 2D and 2020 3D renditions. It has a single-player Story mode, single or multiplayer Quick Match mode, and a total of eight people can play together with local or online multiplayer.

Christine Chan

Christine Romero-Chan was formerly a Senior Editor for iMore. She has been writing about technology, specifically Apple, for over a decade at a variety of websites. She is currently part of the Digital Trends team, and has been using Apple’s smartphone since the original iPhone back in 2007. While her main speciality is the iPhone, she also covers Apple Watch, iPad, and Mac when needed. When she isn’t writing about Apple, Christine can often be found at Disneyland in Anaheim, California, as she is a passholder and obsessed with all things Disney, especially Star Wars. Christine also enjoys coffee, food, photography, mechanical keyboards, and spending as much time with her new daughter as possible.