You don’t need to be an athlete yourself to be able to participate in the Olympic Games.

Thanks to video games, you can compete against world-class sportsmen without leaving your home.

Video games allow us to experience all kinds of hypothetical scenarios that would be otherwise completely out of reach for the majority of people. War games, spy games, grand strategies, racing games, simulators; in games, you can become anyone you want.

And, as it happens, if you’ve ever wanted to become a professional athlete, that’s also an option, thanks to the existence of various Olympic-themed games. But naturally, some are better and more fun to play than others.

If you’re curious about the absolute peak Olympic gameplay, here are some of the best Olympic video games ever made.

Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020

Release date:2019-11-01
Genre:Sport
Developer:Sega Games

Starting off with a more open-minded take on the Olympics that puts emphasis on fun and more varied gameplay.

Join Mario and Sonic as they go through a series of events of minigames that are loosely related to the Olympics. The game sacrifices realism in favor of a more exciting gameplay formula, which, combined with the game’s relaxing and joyful atmosphere creates a perfect stress reliever.

Key features
  • A variety of funny, real, and made-up sports games
  • Colorful and light-hearted
  • Focuses more on providing a unique gameplay experience
  • Combines various visual styles inspired by both modern and retro games from Mario and Sonic games

Track & Field

Release date:1985-06-21
Genre:Sport
Developer:Konami

A timeless classic that tackles the Olympics theme from a more realistic side.

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The grandfather of all Olympics video games brought a simple yet addictive sports formula to the table. Made as a series of quick minigames, Track & Field would test players’ reflexes and reaction times to the limit. Beat the competition and set new records.

Key features
  • A legendary arcade game
  • A variety of minigames based on a selection of real-world sports
  • Simple but adorable classic pixel art style
  • Score-based gameplay

Beijing 2008

Release date:2008-06-26
Genre:Sport
Developer:Eurocom Entertainment Software

Here’s one from the more modern side of the spectrum of realistic Olympic video games.

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Beijing 2008 is quite an accurate game when it comes to Olympic sports, and it applies to both gameplay and visuals. As one of the officially licensed video games, Beijing 2008 aims to provide players with a more down-to-earth experience, where you can actually feel like you’re participating in a real event. The career mode also deserves a mention.

Key features
  • An official video game for the Beijing 2008 Olympics
  • Realistic sports simulation
  • Lots of various sports disciplines to try and master
  • Career mode with upgradeable team stats

Olympic Gold: Barcelona '92

Release date:1992-02-19
Genre:Sport
Developer:Tiertex Design Studios

For another example of old but gold – pun intended – check out this gem from 1992.

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Olympic Gold is a classic Olympics game focused on a more realistic approach, which means you’ll be able to compete in a variety of real sports, such as swimming, archery, hammer throw, and sprint. Earn medals, beat records, and show the world what you’re made of, all of that without leaving your cozy couch or chair.

Key features
  • Official Barcelona 1992 Olympics video game
  • Several sporting events based on real-world disciplines
  • Adjustable difficulty level
  • Retro visuals and sounds

London 2012: The Official Video Game

Release date:2012-06-26
Genre:Sport
Developer:Sega Studios Australia

Considered by some the best Olympic video games ever made, so let’s take a look at it.

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London 2012 is the official video game for the 2012 Summer Olympic Games and it will take you there, allowing you to relive the past events and participate in the games yourself. Choose your country and lead your team to victory through a variety of sports disciplines, from aquatics to track and field, and even canoe slalom and cycling. There’s quite a lot to practice and master if you want to put your hands on the medals.

Key features
  • An excellent test for your reflexes
  • Smooth and responsive controls
  • Acceptable visuals, even for today’s standards
  • Cooperative events in the local multiplayer mode

Vancouver 2010

Release date:2010-01-12
Genre:Sport
Developer:SEGA

The Olympics is not only about summer, so how about some winter sports instead?

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Vancouver 2010 is another official Olympics video game, but this time focused on the Winter Games. As such, you can expect a lot of new sports disciplines that can’t be seen in the summer. Try your hand at fast-paced, adrenaline-pumping activities, such as skiing, sledding, snowboarding, and speed skating, and prove your worth.

Key features
  • An official 2010 Winter Olympics video game
  • A variety of winter-themed sports to try
  • Smooth controls and good physics
  • Requires good reflexes due to the fast-paced nature of included activities

Salt Lake 2002

Release date:2002-01-19
Genre:Sport
Developer:DC Studios

Lastly, one more Winter Olympics, but a much older one.

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Salt Lake 2002 is yet another officially licensed Olympics video game, this time revolving around the XIX Olympic Winter Games. It feels slightly easier than the previous entry, making it a more approachable title for a wider audience. It also features a variety of fast-paced winter sports, but the tempo is a bit more manageable.

Key features
  • Focused on winter sports
  • Moderate difficulty level
  • Several different play modes to choose from
  • A bit of added RNG that affects the scores

Conclusion

Thanks to video games, you can taste the life and experiences of a professional athlete without the need to improve your real-life physique and skills and without the risk of getting serious injuries, except for the wrist pain that may come as a result of playing too much. Test your skills in the best and most popular Olympic video games and outperform the competition. Lead your chosen country to victory and humble your opponents as you snatch all the gold medals and set new world records.