Sonic at the Olympic Games-Tokyo 2020: fast hedgehogs have good times.
You’ve got to hand it to Sonic. Most hedgehogs live five years at most. Not only is Sonic 29 years old, he’s also competing in the Olympics. Sega has sent their bluest athlete to Tokyo. Sonic at the Olympics Games-Tokyo 2020 is a light, inconsequential game, but these are heavy days. Light, inconsequential fun may be exactly what we need right now.
On your Mark
Sonic is at the Olympics, and honestly, who cares why. He’s a very fast, geriatric hedgehog in bright red shoes. Why shouldn’t he compete in the Olympics? Doctor Eggman, Sonics arch-nemesis, periodically pops up to look sinister, but doesn’t really do anything. Sonic participates in each of the 15 Olympics events, either against the programmed game, or against other players.
The events are primarily either running or jumping challenges. Sonic’s defining quality is his speed, so it makes sense to focus the on foot racing. The game executes every possible variation of racing.
Diving takes a bit more finesse. Sonic gets three opportunities to execute a graceful high dive, and to attain as many coins as he can in the process. The skeet shooting challenge has a fun, throwback feel. Players tap the flying skeet to shoot, taking into account delay, and the increasingly rapid- fire deployment of the targets. It’s a simple concept, reminiscent of the satisfaction of Duck Hunt.
Sonic at the Olympic Games-Tokyo 2020 -unwieldy name aside-is extremely basic. Tap rapidly to run faster in races. Sustain a tap to jump over hurdles. The diving games are more complicated. There are patterns of coins that Sonic must try to collect in the course of the dive. Players use their fingers to chart the shape of the dive before executing it.
Gameplay is simple and repetitive. The events are all very similar. All are completed through some variation of rapid tapping, or slightly longer holds to make Sonic run faster or jump higher. Sonic can redo any level to try and rank higher. While there is no actual value to it, there’s a distinct satisfaction in placing higher.
Sonic at the Olympic Games-Tokyo 2020 doesn’t require much effort. The graphics are beautifully rendered though. Sonic is as adorable at 29 as he ever was and there’s nostalgic joy in lacing up his sneakers again. The stakes could not possibly be lower. But that is the charm of Sonic- the developers just want players to have an enjoyable time. And good news! You will.
The colors are bright. The characters are cute. The challenges are not all that challenging, but the ability to replay them as much as you want allows you to engage in the parts you enjoy the most. It’s not breaking the mold, but it is a pleasant, inconsequential way to pass the time.
Is It Hardcore?
Sonic will not appeal to everyone. There’s no greater objective, beyond having a some fun. But in these aggressively stressful times, pretending to be an Olympic hedgehog is a peaceful way to pass some time.