The Olympics is a stage that many of us can only dream of, and while the best athletes in the world gear up to pit their strength against one another, Google will be bringing all the sporting action a little closer to us…or our screens, to be more exact.
Created in collaboration with Japanese animation STUDIO 4°C, the Doodle Champion Island Games is the largest-ever interactive Doodle game to date, and presents a 16-bit adventure set within the game world of Champion Island. There, players can join a team and unleash their competitive spirit as they face off against the reigning Champions of table tennis, skateboarding, rugby, archery, climbing, marathon running, and synchronised swimming.
The journey begins with a stylish sequence that takes on the anime aesthetic, featuring a cast of characters inspired by Japanese folklore, such as the kappa and kitsune (fox spirit). Full of vibrant colours and lively, cheerful energy, the sub-one minute reel is an enjoyable watch – check out some of the action above.
You play as a cute little cat in the flash game, which rocks the retro visuals of titles like Pokémon and The Legend of Zelda. The controls are simple: use the arrow keys to navigate, and the space bar to roll and speed up. These will remain the main controls along the course of the gameplay, even as the mechanics across the sporting events may differ from one to the other.
On that note, seven Olympic games have been converted into a 2D side-scrolling experience. The table tennis mini-game pits you against either two opponents, or just one who will serve and hit more than one ball at a time. Hitting the ping pong ball at the right timing grants extra speed upon return, so be sure to use that to your advantage!
Skateboarding works in the same way as most skateboard video games do. Executing flips gives additional points, with railings and ramps scattered across the space for a boost in height or speed. The rest of the sports, in similar fashion, are reimagined like their real-world counterparts, but with slight twists in tow.
Where the rugby mini-game adopts a player-switching approach that should be familiar to veterans of the FIFA franchise, the likes of archery, climbing, and marathon running have added various obstacles like moving targets, handholds, and hostile environments for increased fun. The synchronised swimming event, meanwhile, takes the form of a rhythm game. A scroll will be rewarded when you come out top of the competition, and collecting all seven of them opens the path to the secret gym of your chosen club.
The effort is already impressive enough on its own, but Google is taking things a step higher. In addition to the sporting excitement, players can also pick up side quests along the way, in which they help to gather lost arrows or locate a missing teammate. While not compulsory, the task system serves as a good tribute to the RPG play style, and brings bonus content and exploration to the mix.
The addition of elements from Japanese culture and folklore is a nifty touch, too. Mythical creatures aside, characters from well-loved fairy tales like Urashima Tarō and Momotarō will make special appearances as well – if you can trigger their respective quests, that is. And if work comes calling? Well, your progress in the flash game will be saved, likely through cookies.
Google has truly outdone themselves with this wonderful, nostalgic, and spiffy build of a Doodle game. Apart from the interactive experience, the company will continue to make the Olympics Games more accessible for the masses through the following:
- Daily recap videos and the latest news via Google Search
- Clips and highlights from official Olympic broadcasters on the official Olympics channel on YouTube
- New Olympic-related YouTube Original content, such as Strive, How to Olympics, Break the Record, and feature-length documentary World Debut
- Voice command and enquiry via Google Assistant, as well as a trivia quiz for U.S. residents
- A curated collection of Google Play apps, including the official Olympics app
- Virtual tour of Japan with Google Street View and Google Arts & Culture
As the event gets ready for kick-off, let us embrace the Olympics spirit in style and soak up the sporting excitement of it all.