Even though they’re demo or brief gameplay experiences, E3 is among the best places to play party games. There are a ton of people, you typically get multiple enthusiasts looking to win and there is always that drive to perform. Naturally, this made Mario & Sonic at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games a popular experience.
While the demo featured a bunch of mini-games, only a handful of largely random titles were available, some of which I didn’t realize were even Olympic games. The playable games included hurdle jumping, surfing, skating, karate and archery. Each one had their own quirks but they allowed different types of players to succeed.
Where I did best was karate, so good the rep mentioned I completed it in the fastest time he had seen all convention, a mode ultimately built around reading your opponent. The goal isn’t to beat them or land the most hits, just pin them. The first round I landed some hits and eventually did it, with the following match being a near instant grab and win.
Surfing and skating relied on similar mechanics, building on the idea of jumping at the ideal moment. Neither were particularly robust, don’t expect Tony Hawk or Skate level gameplay, just a basic mode meant to replicate these games for others to enjoy.
Archery is one of the more tactical and thoughtful modes. Weather conditions constantly change, so the best players need to look at these changes and plan accordingly. Strong wind means a direct shot will miss, just like little to no wind means you should fire directly at the target. For better or worse, I just kind of did a rough estimate and found the mechanics rather forgiving. This lowers the skill celling, though allows almost anyone to have fun.
Finally, hurdles was said to be the most difficult mini-game for players. It ultimately comes down to how well you push jump, though in my run I could not get the character to jump, making it deceptively simple. It will probably end up being that one mini-game skilled players master and no one ever plays.