As the Tokyo Olympics finally begins later today (July 23), Google is celebrating both Japanese culture and sports with a unique interactive Doodle.
Playable on any browser on desktop or mobile, Doodle Champion Island Games is the largest and most in-depth interactive Doodle created yet, complete with anime cutscenes created by Japanese animation company Studio 4°C.
As Lucky the calico, players arrive on an island celebrating a festival with a series of 16-bit-inspired sports-themed mini-games. There’s seven in total, each based on a real events in the Tokyo Olympics: table tennis, archery, skateboarding, climbing, rugby, artistic swimming, and marathon.
For an even more competitive spirit, players can also choose a team to join at the start, each represented by an animal mascot – Ushi the cow in Blue, Karasu the cow in Red, Inari the fox in Yellow, or Kappa the turtle-like yokai in Green.
As you beat each event’s champion (also represented by characters from Japanese folklore) and obtain a sacred scroll, Google is also tracking the total score while the Doodle is live over the next couple weeks until the end of the Tokyo Olympics to see which team will emerge the victor.
Doodles have featured interactive games in the past, mostly inspired by other sports such as like baseball, cricket, and basketball, as well as a fully playable Pac-Man in the browser.
But with an overworld to explore, a multitude of characters rendered in pixel art, and anime cutscenes that accompany each event, Doodle Champion Island Games is a surprisingly substantial bite-sized package that’s a fitting homage to classic Japanese 16-bit games.
Video game fans can likely expect even more references when the Tokyo Olympics’ opening ceremony gets underway later today. The former Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe previously dressed up as Super Mario in a scene-stealing entrance at the closing ceremony of the Rio de Janeiro Olympics back in 2016.
Elsewhere, Alex Scott will be FIFA’s first English-speaking female commentator in FIFA 22. She follows Spanish sports network presenter Nira Juanra, who became the first female commentator when she was added last year to FIFA 21.