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Google’s Olympics Doodle is a full-size sports RPG

Google’s Doodle for the opening day of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics is practically a full-size video game. Doodle Champion Island Games is a classic top-down, RPG-style sports adventure featuring seven minigame events and global leaderboards.

Doodle Champion Island is the work of Tokyo-based Studio 4°C, an award-winning animation studio that has worked on 2010’s Halo Legends film series; 2011’s Thundercats TV series, and 2015’s Batman: Arkham Knight for Rocksteady Studios. The game’s player-controlled star is Lucky the Ninja Cat, who lands on Champion Island and finds a quadrennial celebration of athletic competition already underway.

In each minigame, Lucky faces a different animal inhabitant of Champion Island. Table tennis is played against the bird-like Tengu; Skateboarding (which strongly resembles Atari’s 1986 classic 720°) has the Tanuki for opponents; Archery is against Yoichi, a samurai general; Rugby takes on the sumo-like Oni, with “Momotaro & friends” assisting on the player’s team.

In Artistic Swimming, players face Princess Otohime and her turtle, trying to match a scrolling note highway. Climbing’s opponent is the owl-like Fukuro and in the Marathon (really a long, side-scrolling obstacle course), players face the Kijimuna.

At the beginning of Doodle Champion Island, players can align with four teams (Blue Ushi; Red Karasu; Yellow Inari, and Green Kappa) to log their scores in a global leaderboard. As of publication time, Team Red was easily the leader, with more than 42 million points.

“We’re pleased that we were able to allude to various stories from Hokkaido in the north to Okinawa in the south in the Doodle,” the studio’s developers wrote in a Q&A with Google. “Besides drawing inspiration from stories known across Japan, we also hoped to convey the rich and diverse natural beauty of the country, including underwater, sandy tropical beaches, forests, and snowy mountains.”

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