Party games and the Nintendo Switch go hand in hand like peanut butter and jelly, or the internet and terrible hot takes. It should come as no surprise that Mario & Sonic at the Olympics is another title that fits perfectly on the system. A party game needs multiple mini-games and easy accessibility for all players. Mario & Sonic offers exactly that, although the mechanics could use a little fine-tuning.
If you haven’t had a chance to see any trailers (or read my preview here), the premise of the game is pretty simple. Bowser and Dr. Eggman put together a plan to trap our heroes in an 8 to 16-bit video game version of the ’64 Olympics. Of course, things don’t go as planned, and our villains are trapped in the same game as Mario and Sonic. It’s up to Luigi, Tails, and the rest of their friends to try and get them out.
The story mode is a welcome surprise. Sega could have easily given us the mini-games and left it at that. Yet the story is fun and uses both 3D and 2D worlds to good use. However, I think there is a slight problem with the number of 3D minigames versus 2D. From my perspective, the 2D levels will most likely be the most popular games. Yet there are far fewer 2D games than 3D. So in story mode, you don’t get as many 2D levels as you may want. However, the team does offer some minigames that you can only play in the story mode, so that offsets some of my problems with it.
If you don’t care about 3D versus 2D, then there are plenty of games to choose from. You’ll see plenty of classic Olympic games like track and field and gymnastics. Some of the other additions are fun like skateboarding and karate are also fun. Your enjoyment of the game will most likely depend on the people you play with. After all, this is a game that is meant for multiple players (up to 4 locally and up to 8 online). When it comes to Mario & Sonic, the more the merrier in my opinion.
There are many options to choose from, but the difficulty varies greatly with each minigame. Some that require multiple motions or button pushes are very challenging and lead to frustrating moments. The frustrating part is the tried and true “I hit the button on time why didn’t it work” situation. I had many moments where I swore I hit the correct button at the right time and my character missed their mark. I wouldn’t say it was universal, but I had my fair share of problems like this.
Because of the input issues, this game can be very challenging. I liked the challenge, but my young kids got frustrated. There are workarounds when it comes to difficulty scales. The easiest one would be to only choose the games that fit the skill level of your party. Or, you could be ruthless and only play with higher skilled players. An update that allows you to make playlists would be very useful when you have a party going. That way, you can pick the games to play over and over instead of navigating the menus after each and every minigame.
While I enjoyed all the minigames, I have to shout out the Dream Events. These minigames are very few in number, but takes typical events like racing up to a whole new level. It’s not a standard event, but it feels like an event that you would play in a typical Sonic or Mario game. It has a very cool fantasy element to it. Honestly, I hate that there are only 3 to choose from because they are very fun with friends and family. I would love to see additional Dream Events in the future.
The Dream Events, along with the 3D events are very colorful and on par with what you would expect from the series. However, I marvel at how well they tied in 8 bit and 16-bit graphics in the retro events. Since the original Mario Brothers and Sonic series had different graphics, I expected the 2D events to look a little off. But Sega did a great job of fitting both retro eras in the 2D events.
Mario & Sonic at the Olympics is a great party game. It can be challenging, especially if you hate when button commands don’t respond at the quickness you want it to. I hope that additional events will be added. As is, the 2D and Dream Events are far too few in number. Still, it’s worth a playthrough, especially with family and friends this holiday season.
Note: GameOctane editor Ryan Welch received a digital code from the publisher for the purpose of reviewing this game. Any code or product intended for reviews is distributed to the team to review and stream for our audience.
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Games for all ages
Great 2D and 3D design
Story mode that ties 2D and 3D together
Inconsistent button registration
Far too few 2D and Dream Events