Google Launches Doodle Champion Island Games to Celebrate Tokyo Olympics

Celebrating the Tokyo Olympics, Google has launched the Doodle Champion Island Games, a series of virtual "sport mini-games" to be held over the coming weeks.

The latest Google Doodle is the largest interactive Google Doodle that the search engine has ever made, said Nate Swinehart, art lead at the Google Doodle Team.

The game sees players compete as "Lucky the Ninja Cat," a calico cat character who comes across "legendary opponents, dozens of daring side quests, and a few new (and old) friends" on Champion Island in seven sport games, according to Google.

Lucky's ultimate goal is to "defeat each sport Champion to collect all seven sacred scrolls—and complete extra hidden challenges" across the island, Google explains.

Users can get in on the action by clicking on the Google Doodle and joining one of the teams in "the real-time global leaderboard."

The seven sport categories include table tennis, rugby, skateboarding, synchronized swimming, archery, climbing and a marathon, according to Google.

The Making of Google Doodle Champion Island Games

Featuring Japanese-themed graphics, the games were created in partnership with Studio4℃, an animation studio based in Tokyo.

"We wanted this Doodle for the Champion Island Games to really create an opportunity for the world to compete globally together and to learn about Japanese culture at the time," Swinehart said.

Welcome to the Doodle Champion Island Games!

In this interactive #GoogleDoodle, join calico (c)athlete Lucky as she explores a 🌎 filled with sports, legendary opponents, and daring side quests.

Are you feline Lucky? 😸 The epic adventure starts now →

— Google Doodles (@GoogleDoodles) July 23, 2021

The graphics are an homage to 16-bit video games from Japan, according to Swinehart. The characters featured in the games include animals, imaginary figures as well as legendary figures, which are based on different folk stories from across the country's 47 prefectures, Tomoko Ogiwara, a producer at Studio4℃, said.

According to the studio, Lucky arrives on the island where a festival is underway. "There are a variety of sports challenges happening at this festival."

Swinehart noted the company aimed to include sports that hadn't been featured on the Google homepage before.

"There's not only seven different sports to play but a whole world to explore," he added.

A fox figure was originally suggested by the Doodle Team to be the main character for the game. However, Swinehart said the studio highlighted that foxes have "more of a trickster vibe in Japan and they don't really feel like the hero as much as something like a calico cat."

The studio came up with Lucky, a female protagonist, which is unique for video games as well, Swinehart said.

Ogiwara said if you look at Japanese folk tales, women are often portrayed as "scary characters," so they wanted to include women in the game.

Calico cats are well known in Japan and there are many female calico cats, so the studio decided to go with a cat character, Ogiwara explained.

The Olympic rings at Tokyo's Olympic Stadium.
The Olympic rings seen outside of the Olympic Stadium ahead of the opening ceremony of Tokyo Games on July 23. Matthias Hangst/Getty Images