Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games Wii Review - 12/02/2008

Mario and Sonic have been rivals since 1991 when the lil' blue fella made his debut on the Sega Mega Drive. Our Italian Plumber on the other hand, had already made several game appearances prior to then and has been around since 1981...

Despite having a decade in between these two iconic characters, their rivalry has been ever-present, but how will it pan out as an idea for a game?

It's present day, the Beijing Olympics are drawing closer and everybody is expecting some form of quick cash-in, like the terrible Athens 2004 game on the PS2 4 years ago. Mario and Sonic appearing in the same game for the first time is the least we can have expected in a cheap cash-in. Arguably the two most famous video game characters of all time pairing up to do a 100m sprint? It sure does sound odd, but how will the game itself do in the competitive market against some brilliant titles this Christmas, like COD4 and Assassin's Creed?

The game is of the party/mini-game genre, which suits it very well, with fast transitions between different events. The game includes 20 events in total, and in addition to that another 4 "Dream Events" which add a twist to the standard tasks, by placing the scenarios in a Mario or Sonic World. These will have you using a special move during table tennis and Mario Kart Style power-ups during a Dream Race. Most of the games are pretty much pick-up-and-play in nature, and most are directed with the Wii remote and Nunchuk, with all you have to do being to move them in time with your character. This control scheme is fairly simple and is great for children of younger ages. They only have to press 1 button in some of the events. The Trampoline is a perfect example of this, the player only uses the Wii Remote, and just has to move it up and down in time to when their chosen character hits the trampoline, having to twist it in the direction and pressing the corresponding buttons in the order that they are displayed on the screen. These start off as an A, B, A combination, to a more complex B, A, B, clock-wise twist, anti-clockwise twist, B, A. So with just that little mini-game, you get an extremely playable experience, with the chance of getting really good at the event. This depth for players is extremely addictive, and the Wi-Fi option will be another reason to replay this game multiple times.

Mario and Sonic, head-to-head for the first time.

Once you become a master of an event, such as the 4x100m Swimming race, you can beat the real world record and then upload your score for all to marvel at. There's a real sense of achievement when you upload your score onto the leader boards, even when you feel like nobody could beat it, you'll soon realise you've got to up your game because some nerdy Japanese teenager has thrashed your score. After this you'll be playing the game for hours-on-end just to get back to the top. And with so many nerdy Japanese teenagers, it's hard to keep up. This may not be a brilliant Wi-Fi game when compared to Mario Strikers, but is excellent for youngsters who can get into the game and see what they have to beat.

As a Party title, this is best played with 4 players. Although it isn't very good when you have to take turns in the Skeet shooting range, it is hilarious fun when all 4 of you are getting worn out after a 4x100m Relay. And with the controls as simple as moving the controllers up and down as fast as you can, even your 'Nan can join in! This aspect of the game is really enjoyable for anyone, and with Sonic and Mario characters included, youngsters will find loads of great times with this game and be inspired to play even more - an astute Nintendo tactic of course!

Does anyone fancy betting against Bowser for this event?

There is only one fault that I found with this title: the single player aspect. The game boasts no kind of campaign. It does include a mission mode (which I found pretty challenging!) and circuits, but I was expecting some sort of story. Even if it was the classic Bowser/Egg Man kidnapping a princess and you having to do events in order to rescue her. Even that story would have me playing for a few hours longer. Sure, there is plenty of replay value, but nothing ever seems to catch my attention and make me start to play by myself. The multiplayer is great and does make up for a lot of lost ground, but most sports games include a single player mode, like FIFA and its Management modes. It might be expecting too much from a cash-in, but at 40 it's only worth purchasing if you enjoy party titles or absolutely adore Mario or Sonic.

- Sam Foster



Sega Sports/Japan
Wii - DS