The Tokyo Olympics has officially kicked off on 23 July! As expected of Google, they’ve done something to celebrate the start of the Tokyo Olympics with a Google Doodle! All you have to do is go to the search engine’s top page (https://www.google.com/) – and instead of the usual Google logo, you’ll see a retro pixel-art rendition of a cat in a ninja outfit standing on top of a red torii gate. And a big PLAY button.
Hit the PLAY button and play the game!
Once you hit the PLAY button you’ll see an animation sequence where you’re introduced to Lucky the ninja cat, who arrives on Champion Island, where a gathering of the world’s best athletes that occurs every four years! Once the animation is done, you’re dropped – as Ninja cat – into an RPG-style retro 2D video game!
The gameplay is simple: for laptops/desktops, you only need to use the arrow keys (to move around) and the space bar (for any action); for mobile phones, you’ll see 2 circles on the bottom of the screen – the left is for moving around, the right for action.
Upon entering the island, all players will have to play a game of table tennis before being judged a ‘worthy’ competitor (you’ll get in anyway, no matter how bad you play!). Once you’re in, you’ll get to play 7 games that are in the Olympics – climbing, table tennis, rugby, marathon running, skateboarding, synchronised swimming, and archery – each located on a different part of the island.
Before each game there’s a cute animation of Ninja cat in action, as well as instructions on how to play the game. All the points you score are added to a worldwide leaderboard. You can also join one of four teams, each represented by a colour and a creature.
As an homage to Japan, the game brings you into the world of Japanese culture and mythology. For example, the team creatures are represented by a crow and a bull, but also an inari (fox deity) an a kappa (a frog-like demon). Even in one of the games, you’ll form a team with Momotaro (the Peach Boy in Japanese folklore) and play rugby against the oni (Japanese ogres) on Onigashima (Ogre Island).
The game also showcases a typical traditional Japanese scenery – you’ll see temples, thatched houses, and other historic buildings where you can enter and interact with the characters within. Some will give you clues to winning the games, while some are just there for conversation. You’ll also find random characters outside that you can interact with as well (it’s an RPG game after all).
While the Tokyo Olympics isn’t going the way it should – no thanks to the pandemic – at least Google is bringing back the fun with this simple retro game, with an added bonus of an insight into Japanese culture.
What’s your high score?