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  1. #1

    Mario & Sonic at the 2020 Olympic Games [NSW]

    Seriously disappointed with this, to the point were I'm genuinely considering trying to quickly get shot of it and picking up the WiiU game.

    Firstly, there are quite large-scale issues which the gaming sites have been talking about. For instance, there's no way to play a series of events, like a Decathlon for instance. Instead, to do a number of events, you have to do an event, then go back to the event selection menu each time - picking your characters too. As the events are short, this can make you feel you're staring at loading screens for much of the game. Then, the explanations for the events, while fine, feel really basic in comparison to the wonderful way Super Mario Party works, and you can't even "practice" after reading the instructions.

    I'd be like if, in MarioKart, you couldn't do the GP in multiplayer - you could only do the vs races. So no doing multiple events and having an eventual winner after half an hour.

    Each of these features was present in some of the prior titles, so it's kinda bewildering they're left out.

    Then you get to some of the more nitty-gritty problems.

    They've taken the bizarre decision to make it splitscreen, so for example, when you do the Javelin, you all do the Javelin at the same time, not taking turns, which bucks the trend for Olympics minigame collections. On the one hand, many of the events are the type you'd expect to be simultaneous (the 100m dash, for example) and I presume they desired some symmetry... But personally I think it was a mistake. This also means that the game is 30fps (presumably running in 60 in single-player, though I haven't confirmed that yet).

    Then, there are only 3 "dream events", and they're okay, but nothing stellar. Certainly they fall short of the ones on the Canada Winter Olympics title for the Wii, which had more, and those took place in locations actually from prior games (like one of them was on a level from Sonic Adventure 2). I think the Dream Racing takes place somewhere from Sonic Forces, but the fact that I'm uncertain of this is itself a problem.

    Finally, to the events themselves... Unfortunately they're a mixed bag. It's great that they've managed to bring in some of the big new events for 2020, such as Karate, Sport Climbing and Skateboarding, but I don't think these should come at the expense of other events. There's no long jump, no high jump, no hammer throw, no shot put, no pole vault... I kinda think any good Olympics game should really feature the main athletics events, and only branch out once they have those covered.

    If I'm to theorise... These games have had a speckled history. The first one was mechanically quite bad; the novelty was fresh and it was decent Wii party fare, but as a game it was quite basic and even then, didn't control well due to the Wii waggletastic controls. The later ones improved it, but the London title had the issue that this made it too easy; once you've played the events once or twice, the London one became a game of "whoever screws up loses", rather than "who plays the best wins". I haven't personally played the WiiU one yet, but I think with this 2020 game, they wanted to avoid what happened with the London game, and they've made the controls more nuanced, but not always in the right way.

    For example, on the Javelin, you have to throw at a specified "perfect angle" which you do by holding the direction on the analog stick - but there's no onscreen counter to tell you what angle you're at. You also have to throw early enough to avoid stepping over the line for a foul, but the point-of-no-return for this is quite unclear. It does mean that it's unlikely people will perfect it on the third go, and just be able to throw repeatable world record throws, but it also means that the game is kinda nebulous.

    In a sense, this is not a party game. @Blobcat and I had to play some of the games a bunch of times just to post a single valid score... Casual users will almost certainly lose patience with it. And that's just bad design; Athlete Kings made better athletics events often with just 1 or 2 buttons.

    Literally the only wholesale improvement is that the Equestrian event actually works now; in some of the older ones it was probably the poorest event; at least now it's playable.

    It just feels really regressive. The stuff which is missing is glaring in its omission, while the stuff which is new just isn't all that compelling.

    I haven't played the story mode yet, admittedly, so I'll spare judgement on that for now. However, my initial impression is not favourable.
    Last edited by Asura; 11-11-2019 at 09:17 PM.

  2. #2
    Further play and it's just as mixed.

    The Rugby Sevens event is amazing. It's a mad scramble with surprisingly good controls; utter chaos on the field and hilarious fun, so there's at least one genuinely great experience. However, like all the events, the timer on the clock is short, and there's no option to extend it for a longer duration.

    Fencing might be one of the better examples of an event which could've been good, but ultimately is bad. Like real fencing, you only contest one round, and it can be over in literally seconds. Each time you finish a round, there's a lengthy "knock-down" animation, then a transition, then a podium award animation before you can go again. I know this matches fencing in real life, but really they should've let you choose 3 or 5 rounds.

    Swimming has the same problem; you just do 2 lengths of the pool, which takes very little time, and again, you have to watch an ending, a transition, the award ceremony and only then can you restart.

    Triple Jump has similar issues to Javelin; it's really quite awkward to come anywhere the line without a FOUL; we honestly foul out more than we make successful jumps. You end up always putting in a really short jump for your first one just to make sure you get any score on the board.

    Also other narks, like how the menus are all controlled by player 1. Also, after you've played an event once, it doesn't show the instructions (you can get them onscreen, but can you imagine if Mario Party did this?!).

    It's a real shame, because the game has a lot of charm. The events aren't bad per se but I just feel many of them are much more complex than they need to be.

    In Discus, it has this bizarre control scheme where you have to hold a button, release the button, hold up on the stick to get in position, half rotate the stick one way, rotate the other way... AND you have to HOLD THE JOYCON AT A SPECIFIC ANGLE (35 degrees) all to throw the freakin' thing, and it's really easy to screw up one of these steps and just end up with a foul.

    I hate to keep banging this drum but Sega know that they made Athlete Kings, right? Like, they know they're allowed to plagiarise themselves? Does someone need to buy them a copy on eBay?

  3. #3
    We played a bit more of this with other people, and overall, I think it's decent. Like always with these games, it has plenty of charming touches.

    The game's main problem is that it has something of an identity crisis, because it's not a minigame collection.

    To give an example, a friend and I spent lunchtime this week mastering the discus event, which has quite unusual controls as stated above. By the end of the hour, we had got close to mastering it and we were having fun making successive attempts at it... But it took an hour. This is almost certainly why the game doesn't have any event playlists; if you tried to play this with some friends who've never played it before, anyone who had done this with the events would just wreck everyone else, and the other players for many events would struggle even to post scores that weren't just a succession of FOULs.

    I imagine, if you had some kids or a family who wanted to play this a lot, they'd end up loving it. Like if you have a group of people who all have some desire to learn the events, they are really fun to play once you've wrangled them. It's just not what I expected, and generally not what I expect when I get an Olympics game.

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