The Doodle Champion Island Games appears on the homepage of Google as a retro-style computer game icon. It's featured across the world on the search engine today.
In the Doodle, the well-known blue, red, yellow and green letters of Google have been replaced with bright WordArt style orange letters. Sandwiched between the slanted O and the second G users will see Lucky, the Ninja cat that is the heroine of the interactive game.
Created in partnership with Tokyo animation company Studio 4°C, the Google Doodle introduces users to the fictional Champion Island, a place where the world’s strongest athletes come to compete every four years.
Pressing play on the Doodle allows users to enter the island and join Lucky as she competes in seven different game categories including table tennis, skateboarding and archery.
Players can get to know several characters from across the island, as well as enjoy cutscene animations from Studio 4°C depicting the challenges that await.
Inspired by Japanese folklore
The game was inspired by stories from across Japan and features well-known characters and places from the country’s folklore.
Lucky the Ninja Cat is a prime example, inspired by Japan's Maneki Neko – or beckoning cat figures.
The object of the game is for the cathlete to defeat the sports champions who have been reigning supreme on the island for many years. Oh, and the cat also has to collect seven sacred scrolls while she's at it.
“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,” say animators from Studio 4°C 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.”
How to play Google's Champion Island
Launch Google as usual and you'll see the icon on the home screen.
Clicking the play icon on the Google Doodle brings users into the world of Champion Island, accompanied by an 8-bit-style soundtrack.
The retro game starts with Lucky standing on a bridge over water with two characters standing in front of her.
"Welcome to Champion Island. Every year the strongest athletes in the world gather here to compete," users are told.
"Step forward to the red gate and we will test your skills."
Players can use the arrow keys to walk forwards, backwards and move from side to side. Pressing the space bar at allocated points brings up more instructions, actions or challenges.
Hitting the backspace cancels an action
The first main task for players is to select a team to join. There are four teams, each named after Google’s colours, and players who join the red, green, blue or yellow teams can contribute to each corresponding real-time global leader board by competing in games.
Players can then explore the island using the arrow keys or press the compass icon in the top lefthand corner of the screen to bring up a map of the area and navigate to the various sports. Here's how to play each category:
Playing against two Tengu - legendary supernatural creatures in Japan – users need to move Lucky towards the ball to return a shot across the table.
Use the arrow keys to move to return the ball. For an extra powerful shot, hit the space bar.
Players are up against Yoichi, a Samurai expert marksman in this floating game of archery.
Use the arrow keys to run along the shoreline towards floating archery boards and fire an arrow using the space bar. The challenge is timed so you need to act fast. Hit the auspicious red fans on the water for bonus points.
Players can roll around a skate park and perform tricks for a higher score. Use the keys to move and the space bar to perform tricks such as kick flips and nose grabs.
The highest scoring trick is the barrel roll, so be sure to include a few before time runs out.
It’s all about rhythm in the synchronised swimming challenge. Taking place in an underwater kingdom, players need to hit the matching beats in time with the rapid music.
One of the more challenging games, users need to follow the direction arrows on screen and use the corresponding keys to bust the right move. Avoid pressing the keys on the wrong count or Princess Otohime will claim victory.
Speed rules in the climbing challenge as Lucky tries to scale to the top of the mountain without being hit by the objects thrown at her by Fukuro, a ladle-yielding owl champion in the sport.
Use the space bar to leap, and the arrows to move directions. Light up the lanterns as you go to mark a more advanced point of return if you fall off the mountainside.
Set on a pitch surrounded by fire, players need to move Lucky and her teammates across the field to try to score a point on the other side. Watch out for the oversized opponents and obstacles such as trees and rocks on the field.
Use the arrow keys for direction and the space bar to pass the ball.
Set on one of Japan’s sandy beaches, Lucky races spry tree spirits across 400 metres of shoreline, with players using the arrow keys to stay on the track and to avoid obstacles. Use the space bar to dodge the obstacles.
Players can run off the track but sprinting on sand will logically be slower.
The Google Doodle will be live for the duration of the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games and players can check-in to complete extra challenges, view new animations and check the leader board standings.