Review of Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 — Oh no, there goes Tokyo

Everyone’s favorite plumber and hedgehog are once again going for the gold, as the Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games series has come to the Nintendo Switch for its sixth installment.  Sure, it may seem like nothing more than a simple cash-grab, but there are some enjoyable new features to be delved into.  So without further ado, let’s light the torch and get into the review itself.

Time-travel turmoil

We haven’t seen a story mode in this series since the 3DS version of the London 2012 installment, but it returns in this edition.  After an opening confrontation, the competitors are inadvertently sent back in time to the Tokyo 1964 games (The setting of which is presented in 2D), and getting back to the present is going to be way easier said than done.  In the meantime, our heroes and villains must venture around the retro venues and compete in old-school 2D events, and there are also 10 special minigames that you must unlock in this mode before you can play them elsewhere.

It shines like gold

Tokyo 2020 has a big list of events to play, and there are some new ones like skateboarding, surfing, sport climbing, and karate.  Whether you’re playing the 2020, 1964, or Dream Events, each minigame comes equipped with tight control schemes, and you can choose between motion controls and standard gamepad controls.  While the controls are fluid and responsive, you still might want to read the instructions for each event in case they seem a little complex at first.

For the first time in the series, online multiplayer is included.  However, I feel that it is, at the very least, half-baked.  The tournament format in events like table tennis and badminton is ditched (Thus making them feel way too short in length), and you are unable to play the 1964 events.  These aren’t dealbreakers, but they make me believe that the online in Tokyo 2020 just isn’t for me.  If inviting three friends over (And possibly ordering a bunch of Pepsi and Domino’s Pizza) is what I need to do in order to get the multiplayer experience I truly want from this game, so be it. But hey, maybe the developers will improve the online multiplayer in a future patch.

It’s the final countdown

It may knock a few hurdles to the ground, but this is a decent comeback for the Mario & Sonic series and a fine debut for it on the Switch.  If you can stomach the fact that this isn’t supposed to be in the same league as minigame compilations like the Mario Party series, this Tokyo 2020 installment is a great place for you to go on the hunt for gold medals.

Review of Team Sonic Racing — What’s gonna work? Teamwork!

I know I’ve already said this in at least one review that I did, but I’m gonna say it again — I am a racing-game fanatic. Few things in videogames get my adrenaline pumping as much as fighting my way through a motor-filled hullabaloo. And after covering popular series like Daytona USA and Burnout, I thought I’d jump back in the cockpit to talk about this new racer involving everyone’s favorite blue hedgehog. Team Sonic Racing has finally taken the green flag, and has a whole bunch of tricks up of its sleeve in an attempt to both imitate Mario Kart and stand out in the garage. Let’s pull up to the starting grid and chat about this thing for a few laps.

Gotta drive faster, faster, faster-faster-faster

It’s not very often you find a story in a kart racer, but Team Sonic Racing has one under the hood. To set the scene, a mustachioed Tanuki named Dodon Pa has recruited Sonic and co. to race through a handful of prominent environments that make up Sega’s flagship franchise. Needing a well-earned break from sending evil robots to the junkyard, the blue hedgehog and his cheris bust out their lovely sports cars and accept Dodon’s invitation regardless of how “shady” they think he comes across as.

Of course, the story would bust a flat if the racing itself didn’t deliver the goods, but the racing is as tasty as all those chili dogs Sonic’s been cooking up for years. The team at Sumo Digital has incorporated a unique style of team-based racing that even Mario Kart hasn’t attempted. During team races, you’ve got a couple of teammates that you can slipstream and swap items with. Working as a team, doing some drifting, and pulling off air tricks fill up a Team Ultimate meter. When you activate a Team Ultimate, you and your teammates get a short period of unlimited boost, and you can even spin out your rivals by simply making contact with their cars. Combine all of the above with tight controls and a well-designed roster of tracks, and you’ve got an addicting arcade racer in front of you.

Turn the car into the wind

Like a loaf of bread, it’s important that a video game of any kind has good sound, and Team Sonic Racing passes that test with ease. The voice-acting is above-average and full of lines that may make you laugh out loud. But more importantly, the music in this racer will give you an adrenaline rush you’ll want to have in multiple servings. Notable artists like Crush 40, Hyper Potions, and Tee Lopes have done a stellar job composing new melodies and remixing a truckload of past bangers.

If you’re gonna make a kart racer, you’d be mistaken big-time if you didn’t include good multiplayer, and you will find plenty of fun multiplayer in Team Sonic Racing. 12 players can be in one lobby, and those slots are allowed to be taken by someone playing via split-screen (Four players per TV). You’ll also find a variety of race types including solo races, team races, King of the Hill, Ring Challenge, and Traffic Attack. And if you want your ride to stand out, you can earn new paint jobs, horns, and attribute upgrades.

A way-past-cool racer

It can be difficult to make a game look unique in a heavily-flooded genre, but Sega and Sumo Digital have managed to put the pieces together for this exhilarating kart racer. Even if you’re not a huge fan of the most famous anthropomorphic hedgehog, you should take Team Sonic Racing for a test drive if you’re adept at arcade-style racing games. Put down the chili dog and keep both hands on the wheel!

Review of Sonic Heroes – Setting the stage for a hero’s parade

If you’re a longtime fan of Sonic the Hedgehog, you will no doubt have heard the common opinion that Sega’s flagship franchise has zero business having 3D adventure games in its lineup.  We usually hear that the blue blur’s 3D endeavors have been plagued with issues regarding the controls and cameras, but there are still some huge Sonic fans (Like myself) that are able to look past the shortcomings as long as they are not total dealbreakers.  And if I had to pick my favorite 3D Sonic game, Sonic Heroes would probably be #1; I’ve got plenty of reasons as to why I love this 2004 action game so much, so feel free to eat some chili dogs while I rave about this rad Sonic game.

Team, team, team…I love saying the word “team”

As I mentioned earlier, Sonic Heroes came to North America in 2004, which was two years after the heavily-lauded Sonic Adventure 2 Battle was released for the GameCube.  While the story is connected to SA2, this game does away with the open-world aspect of the Adventure trilogy and focuses on the action and linear levels.  But the biggest hook of Heroes is the concept of controlling a team of characters.  12 characters make up the game’s playable roster, comprised of four trios known as Team Sonic (Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles), Team Dark (Shadow, Rouge, and Gamma), Team Rose (Amy, Cream, and Big), and Team Chaotix (Espio, Charmy, and Vector).  Each team has a speed-type character, fly-type character, and power-type character.  While you’re racing for the goal ring (Or trying to do whatever your mission requires), you must change the leader of your team with a touch of a button and use his/her skills to your advantage.  It may seem a little complex to an outsider, but you’ll get the hang of it in no time.

For a 2004 game, Heroes looks very pretty thanks to the use of Criterion’s RenderWare engine.  Everything moves at a constant 60 FPS (30 on the PS2) with little to no pop-in.  The colors are so crisp and vibrant that you’ll feel like you’re actually on the beach, in the sky, or any other environment this game has to offer.  Even the cutscenes not rendered in the game engine look really nice for their time.

No Sonic the Hedgehog game would be complete without a bangin’ soundtrack, and Heroes delivers in spades.  Crush 40 and company provide an incredible mix of rock and electronic jams, with each song being completely appropriate for the team you’re adventuring with and the environment you’re exploring.  Chances are the title screen theme will be stuck in your head for a very long time (I’m guilty as charged in that department).  You’ll probably enjoy the music more than the voice-acting, not that the latter is terrible; Some of the lines may seem a bit phoned in, but it’s above-average most of the time.

More content than you can shake a chili dog at

Like the Adventure games, Heroes contains multiple stories and lots of emblems to collect.  Each level has a key you must hang onto, as doing so will give you the opportunity to complete a special stage.  Every odd-numbered mission has a special stage that is simply a high-score challenge, and the even-numbered missions have special stages in which you race for Chaos Emeralds.  If you miss out on getting Emeralds in the story mode, you can go into the challenge mode to gain access to the special stages, gain said Emeralds, improve your mission rankings, and even complete harder versions of the story’s missions.  Once you complete all four team stories, you can access the final story once you have all seven Emeralds.  Adding to the replay value are seven modes of two-player, which involve competitions like foot-racing, battling atop a platform, chasing a Chaos Emerald, collecting rings, and bobsled racing.  The only catch is that you only start off with Action Race and the only way to unlock the other modes is by earning emblems; All 120 are needed for the complete multiplayer experience.

Blue streak speeds by

Heroes won’t replace the Genesis masterpieces, but it combines and sharpens the best elements of Sega’s most iconic franchise.  With beautiful graphics, an incredible soundtrack, and more replay value than you can shake a pair of Power Sneakers at, Sonic Heroes is a fantastic piece of the blue hedgehog’s 3D library, and that’s all it needs to be.  Chili dogs at the ready — It’s Emerald-collecting time!