Back in 2016, Sega pulled an unexpected move and brought their Mario & Sonic collaboration to arcades. Sporting one of the longest titles in the biz, Mario & Sonic At The Rio 2016 Olympic Games Arcade (hereto referred as MAS2016), the game also didn’t just stick to Japan as it saw a Western release too. There’s a chance that you’ve seen it out there in the wilds of arcade land.
Jump forward to today, and it’s been known for some time now that Sega and Nintendo were cooking up another collab of Mario & Sonic Olympics for the Nintendo Switch, as well as arcades. Given the presence of the Olympics in Japan next year, companies like Sega and Nintendo have reason to be excited and to make a big impact. While more information has been available on the Switch side, this evening Sega pulled the curtain back on the arcade version with an announcement of two Japanese location tests, a special website dedicated to the game, and our first look at the game cabinet. All in this single tweet:
『マリオ&ソニック AT 東京2020オリンピック™アーケードゲーム』
ロケテスト参加＆アンケート回答された方にはオリジナルステッカーをプレゼント！#OfficialVideoGame #Tokyo2020 #Play2020https://t.co/sVqaJs5gIn pic.twitter.com/PwjP4GxAO0
— セガ公式アカウント (@SEGA_OFFICIAL) July 25, 2019
If you can’t see the tweet for some reason, here’s the game cabinet image:
Here is a second cabinet image that also popped up online. It’s missing the LED art fixtures on the sides of the monitor, but is otherwise the same:
As with other prototype games, we should mention as a disclaimer that there is no guarantee that this game will see a final release (although in this case it does seem likely), or that it will show up in the West like MAS2016 did(there’s zero confirmation that this is headed West at this time, but that can change depending on Sega’s decision). While MAS2016 was fun and innovative, it suffered numerous technical issues, especially with the unique joysticks.
Now looking at the image above, it appears that Sega is addressing that head-on. It still features the foot pad controller, but instead of giant force-feedback joysticks, they are using large buttons. While not as cool at first glance, I’m sure that arcade techs would be breathing a sigh of relief in this instance, as buttons are pretty easy and cheap to replace. As an operator, it also drives me crazy when kids come in and thrash things like joysticks/steering wheels/stick shifters and they are always drawn to the unique looking ones.
As a gamer, I hope the game is still fun and not dumbed down, but we’ll have to wait and see. It is still unique from the console version though, and I am happy to see another competitive party sports game in arcades; I’m surprised there aren’t more of these kinds of titles around, as they are perfect fits for the social gaming environment of an arcade and they are fun. Panic Park anyone?
Here’s some gameplay description from a special page on Sega.jp that popped up about it:
Anyone can easily enjoy various competitions with buttons and footboards at hand.
If you hit a button in a row, press it at the right time, or step or jump on the foot panel, those actions will be reflected in the game.
You can enjoy the exhilaration unique to arcade games by moving the body and manipulating the characters.
Another aspect that I’m curious about for this prototype cabinet is that when MAS2016 was launched, it was only available in a quad set, with a giant enclosure marquee. It was impressive, but this drove the cost up. Eventually Sega released a pared down dual version, but this cabinet looks like it’s being made to be sold in single units (that could presumably be linked with others). Again, that could change – obviously as a party sports game, you want multiplayer. The pages linked do mention that up to four can be linked. But if it does show up here where you can buy individual units from the start, I think that would make it more attractive for small locations. I would also assume that this one would be cheaper anyways since it doesn’t have the cost of those joysticks involved.
Again, this is still speculation until Sega confirms anything; they can also change things based on testing and other feedback. So far this sequel does appear to take into account the issues the first one had though, so I’d say that the outlook is optimistic. We’ll have to see if it’s at IAAPA 2019 or not; the expected Japanese launch is this Winter. If so, I’ll be happy to give this Tokyo 2020 version of the concept a spin. What do you think about it?