Republished on Tuesday, 22nd June 2021: It’s been nearly two years since we first reviewed Olympic Games Tokyo 2020: The Official Video Game, and a lot has happened since then. SEGA’s decision to release this tie-in title several months prior to the intended start of the event in host nation Japan always struck us as strange, but seeing as the summer games are still yet to take place it feels even weirder. Of course, the Japanese publisher could never have predicted that a global pandemic would delay the athletic fiesta by 12 months.
However, with the real-world Olympics finally here, the firm is finally publishing its excellent Tokyo 2020 title worldwide. As the Japanese release was already localised, there are few changes to the core experience here, so we’ve retained our original review in full below. SEGA did add some extra events to the import version as free updates, which are available day one in the Western version, allowing you to partake in rugby sevens, judo, sports climbing, and 4x100m relay. All retain the pick-up-and-play spirit of the main game, but pack surprising depth.
In addition, you can now dress your avatar in a full-body Sonic the Hedgehog suit – part of the mascot’s anniversary celebrations. Overall, the game is exceptionally entertaining if you’re looking for a medley of sports-themed minigames. The presentation has aged slightly since the game’s release two years ago – and loading times feel a little longer in this post-PlayStation 5 era – but as pass-the-pad timewasters go, we highly recommend this. The full, original review is below.
Original review, published on 29th September, 2019: It’s nice to know the spirit of SEGA still burns brightly. The legendary Japanese company may have made a conscious transition to PC-based strategy titles in recent years, but Olympic Games Tokyo 2020: The Official Video Game sees the organisation make a temporary return back to its Model 3 best. This is an arcade-inspired outing that channels the blue skies and cock rock of yesteryear – and it represents a real breath of fresh air in the sports genre.
There are no sticker packs in sight here: just a vast selection of minigames for you to enjoy across a variety of modes. You’ll start out by creating a star athlete, and from there you’ll be able to surround him or her with teammates and partners, all of whom will support you on your pursuit for gold medal glory. The avatar designer is relatively deep, but the entire release subscribes to a consistent art style which is cartoony in a compelling way.
Unlike other Olympics games, the roster of activities is not overwhelmed by athletics events. Yes, you’ll find the traditional button mashing in the 100 metre and relay, but you’ll also be able to enjoy fully-fledged tennis, football, and boxing events. It’s these latter disciplines that really set the release apart from predecessors, and while some sports are naturally more entertaining than others, there’s a consistency to the package that’s easy to appreciate.
For example, there are layers to each of the events which add an element of skill. In the 200 metre individual freestyle, for example, you’ll be tasked with managing a stamina bar, forcing you to think about your overall pace while holding off competitors. Meanwhile, in the long jump, you’ll be able to work the crowd on your final leap in order to add a little distance to your pursuit of a podium position. Each activity is easy to pick up, but there’s always more to it.
It’s this depth that makes competitive play that bit more enticing, and we’ve enjoyed some tense rounds of basketball as we’ve jostled with competitors overseas. There’s a timetable-esque structure to the ranked online multiplayer modes, which cycles through different events and keeps the spirit of the Olympics alive. Of course, if that’s not for you then you can simply create Quick Matches for up to four players, and come up with your own medleys.
While there are none of the microtransactions that you tend to find in other sports titles, the release does appear to be channelling service game trends in the right way. Rugby sevens was recently added to coincide with the Rugby World Cup, while the likes of sports climbing and judo are still to come; these will presumably all be included day one when the title deploys in Western territories, but the package feels polished despite its early Asian launch.
As you compete you’ll earn points which can be spent on costumes and cosmetics for your character, ranging from the relatively normal (like shorts and tees) to the absurd (like an astronaut’s outfit). There’s also a ton of stat tracking buried away in the menus, revealing how your performances compare to the rest of the community. Neat little meta games reveal medal counts for each nation, meaning that each time you finish on the podium you’re actually contributing to your country’s stats.
Another neat feature is that real-world athletes are being added to the practice mode, allowing you to face off against them in their respective sports. While the likes of baseball are obviously not as refined as dedicated franchises like MLB The Show, we have to give credit to the tennis, which far outperforms any of the alternatives you’ll find on the PS4. Boxing is a bit awkward and we’re not particularly fond of BMX – but all the rest range from good to great.
The presentation is similarly solid, with vibrant graphics and ostentatious announcers. This is the kind of game where good performances will see your avatar quite literally explode into a ball of flames, and there are some really neat animations that see you launching the hammer throw or spiking the ball in beach volleyball. Loading screens include useful information about the Olympics themselves, and all of the stadiums have been faithfully recreated based on real-world design blueprints.
In an era where arcade titles are few and far between, Olympic Games Tokyo 2020: The Official Video Game serves as a reminder that SEGA is still the champion of effervescent sports games. A varied selection of events, each with their own addictive gameplay mechanics, makes for an entertaining package with plenty to see and do. Pair this with a vibrant artstyle and some decent online options, and you’ve got the gold standard in athletics right here.
Can you rename athletes?
Like making basketball rosters the right ones? Etc
@get2sammyb does the tennis play anything like the old Virtua Tennis?
How odd that this is out in Japan a year before the actual games start.
Is there a planned UK date?
London 2012 and Athlete Kings need replacing
Edit: Think it’s next year... is this region free?
Oh, might give the demo a try if I have the time. Saw it a while back in the JP Store.
@Stocksy I don't think you can name them, but you could definitely try to recreate likenesses.
@carlos82 A little bit, yes.
@AdamNovice Very odd.
@Spoonman-2 It's out next year in the UK, but it's region-free and fully English, so...
Lovely job, off to Play-Asia I go
Loved these type of games as a kid. I will grab this upon release.
@get2sammyb might have to pick this up
Budget pricing? I will get asap if its 40bones
@get2sammyb Can we really Naruto run as the one screenshot suggests with the guy in the middle?
What's best way to get hold of a copy? - create Japanese account and get voucher/credit or import?
I'm in UK.
International track and field was one of my favourite games at high school, great couch coop!! Might have to give this a look
Are you going to make me buy an Olimpics game again? xD Sammy, why you do this?
I had so much fun with 2004 and 2008 games with my cousins, maybe I should get this one
@Jaz007 Yes you can.
@mikeym Yeah, you can get credit and download from Japanese PSN or import a retail copy from Play-Asia. The game's entirely in English, so playing is not a problem.
@AFCC London 2012 on PS3 was really fun as well! This is my favourite of the SEGA ones, though.
@mikeym You can create a normal account and select your language. Lots of ways too pay, creditcard, PayPal even ideal that exclusive too the Netherlands. You can even pay your import in advance so you have any hassle with customs its a fantastic site.
This sounds pretty good!
Sounds like a great collection! I'd still love to see California Games make a comeback (doubt it ever will) and I'd still love to see Sega bring some of their classic sports titles back for a comeback too...would love a new Virtua Tennis, Sega NFL and World Series Baseball or even College Football. This title will definitely be a picker upper for me though, although I'll also be picking up the Mario and Sonic one too!!!
i have missed these type of sports games for a long time, this is great news
@TheBuzz Brings back memories of Track & Field games back on the NES.
Still won’t come close to Olympic Games 96 on Ps1.
@carlos82 that peaked my interest also, this is the best we are going to get from sega for now.
@get2sammyb is a Japanese account required for online features to work correctly, or are you playing online multiplayer using your UK account? Thank you! 😊
@C0NNERS You can just play on your UK account.
@get2sammyb never played the London one! 2004 was the absolute best
Got this today, feels rather average.
Maybe I was expecting too much, have had lots of laugh out loud moments though
Some of the games like Football and Table Tennis are very MEH
I found the Rugby Sevens quite awful.
My favourite even by far is the hammer throw.
Nearly got the platinum now, been a fun weekend
Republished for Western release!
Is it as good as Daley Thompson's Decathlon?
Well doesn't this just act as a time capsule for the period we've just lived through.
Have to feel sorry for SEGA here, and i hope the game does well for them!
Interesting take. When I played it last year I thought it was one of the worst olympic games I have ever played but I suppose I was looking for something a little different than the very cartoony game we got. A decent party game but not much more than that for me. Others may get much more mileage I suppose
I saw some streams yesterday and I gotta say I'm extremely disappointed with the lack of events. It has so many team based modes and some of the classics are missing. Even the Mario and Sonic at the Tokyo Olympics has more events than this one, sadly.
I'm on the fence on this one...
I'm tempted to get this because who doesn't like a Track and Field type game for a bit of family fun. Seriously have to question why they've put things in like Football, Rugby and Tennis though instead of events that scream Olympics a bit more. I mean, if I want to play football I'm going to pick up a football game like FIFA or PES aren't I? Same goes for Baseball, Basketball and Tennis.
And then you look and the likes of 200m, 400m, pole vault, triple jump, gymnastics, javelin, shot put etc are missing. Oh, and diving, archery, weightlifting and numerous others.
Very strange decision by SEGA. I'll wait for a sale I guess.
@Bingbongboyo Daley Thompson Decathlon was my very first game I played. Thinking of it still makes my fingers scream in pain.
I just bought it and, not going to lie, mainly for the tennis. This review suggested it was good and some of my friends who played the game said it was very good. I loved the more arcadey type tennis games like Sega's Virtua series and Top Spin 2 and since this is as close as it will likely ever get again, decided to take a chance on it. The budget pricing helped.
@Doomsday619 haha! Yes! Many a joystick got destroyed playing it back in the day!
They should also look at bringing back Winter Games, Summer Games, California Games, etc from Epyx into the new generations.
use to love these games. I wish this was a free ps plus game ! might still purchase
Never mind Daley Thompson's Decathlon, is it as good as Decathlon on the Atari 2600? I played Decathlon a couple of weeks ago, and it's still immensely fun (and good to know that my brother and I are still as competitive as we were 38 years ago)
I bought this game for switch during the pandemic, It's fun but I found it pretty challenging for me. But I still love international competition type games. I would buy any world cup (FIFA, hockey, baseball, etc) in a heartbeat.
I look forward for the Olympics to be over and for me to get this for $15 and have a old school couch game with the wife. I can't being myself to pay full price for this type of game though. You play it for a couple hours and then never touch it again.
@Denni5m thinking the same for me & the wife. Idk I can justify paying 40 bones for this right now ...
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