Review

Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games Review (Wii)

Mario and Sonic have flown into Beijing for the 2998 Olympics, and boy are my arms tired.

Sorry, really. Excuse the lame pun, but Iíve rarely felt it more appropriate to make a joke like that than in relation to a game. I like to think of myself as a reasonably healthy person, but Sonic and Mario at the Olympic Games makes me question that assumption: am I, in fact, something of a weakling? Am I a shut-in, closeted games reviewer with a body that screams this fact to the world? Am I really that lacking in upper body strength? Because Sonic and Mario makes my arms hurt, a lot, and that makes me feel somewhat self-conscious about this.


Cream the Rabbit: tiny and cute, but rigidly unbribable Yoshiís rowing sound effect is inarguably the most irritating sound in gaming for 2007

Oh, I know what youíre saying Ė clearly, itís because Iím trying very, very hard to be the best I can at this game, and being the best take a lot of effort. Itís true: I do put my all into playing through games like this, for vaguely obsessive compulsive reasons that arenít really worth going into here. But that doesnít explain the arm ache. Even the first set of events in the game Ė 100m sprint, long jump and hammer throw Ė put a little twinge into the old shoulder, and a little niggle into the elbow.

When people complained about arm ache after first playing Wii Sports, oh, didnít we laugh? Did you see the nerds? Complaining about having to do physical exercise in order to play a game Ė hah!

Well, the Wii-Mote is in the other hand now, believe me. Even the most physically active gamer will tremble after playing through a couple of fencing matches. Itís punishing.

Different events require different types of movement to compete. Some will require the use off the remote and the nunchuk, while other can be played using just the remote, and itís with this that the game falls apart a little. While events like the 100m sprint are fairly obvious Ė move the remote and nunchuk in a running motion Ė the swimming, for example, is far too obtuse, requiring players to move the remote back and forwards while keeping an eye on a stamina meter and then hitting a button when it gets low but not too low but making sure that youíre still swinging it back and forth. Or something like that: itís never really clear, until youíve played it through a few times, which puts new players at a real disadvantage.


Letís not get into the Sonicís speed versus Marioís speed argument here The character selection screen holds plenty of familiar faces. And Blaze the Cat

Then there are events, like the aforementioned fencing, that just illustrate problems with the Wii controllers in general. It can be crisp and thrilling at times, but when done wrong, it can feel slow and clumsy, and the impreciseness is jarring

Similarly, the difficulty is out of balance in a number of events Ė the skeet and archery, in particular. With Wii Playís shooting competition and the amusing 8-bit style shooting gallery from Wario Ware, itís been shown that the Wii can not only do that kind of thing, but that it can excel at it. Mario and Sonicís shooting events pile on the difficulty, but leave out the fun. A perfect score isnít entirely out of reach, but itís something that wonít happen until youíve memorised the locations that the skeets fly from. Even then, itís all down to whether or not you can make the heart meter Ė presumably representing nervousness Ė to stop in the middle before each round of shooting, otherwise your crosshairs will shrink.

Itís often frantic, but thereís a rarely a feeling of complete control, unfortunately. Itís just a little sloppy. The beauty of Wii Sports was that it was immediately playable by anyone Ė for the most part, anyway Ė and had that added degree of skill hidden if you cared to look. Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games certainly has some wonderfully simple events, but it puts new players at a disadvantage for too much of the time: itís too easy to walk right over your friends if you know how hard to raise the remote in jumping events to get a perfect leap, or when to release the hammer to get it perfectly straight.

Thereís plenty of fun to be had with playing the events with friends, but having to pull punches in order to let inexperienced players have a chance Ė or, conversely, being walked all over by someone who has been playing the game for a while Ė isnít a great way to spend your time.

And as for the fact that itís the first (legally produced) game ever to feature both Mario and Sonic? Honestly, it doesnít seem like that big a deal, even as someone who grew up in a time where you were either a fan of one or the other. Maybe itís because the Sonic franchise has been watered down to such a degree lately, but it really does feel like a Mario sports game with an expanded line-up.

That said, there are undoubtedly people who will take an interest in the game from that perspective. Noted extreme Sonic fanboy and friend of the author Matt Hestill would be one of these people, though his interest probably takes the form of what some people would refer to as a rather unhealthy obsession with minute details. ďAs if Sonic, who can run at documented speeds in excess of 761.2 miles per hour, couldnít beat Mario in a race over land,Ē he exclaimed upon first hearing about the gameís premise. ďLet alone allowing Bowser or Eggman to beat him. As if!Ē

Fair points from Mr. Hestill, no doubt, but probably ones that miss the overall aim of the game for most people. Itís about cramming recognisable characters into one game. And not so recognisable too, it seems Ė who actually knows anything about Blaze the Cat? For anyone not interested in a constant stream of repetitive banter from these characters, however, you can choose to play as a mercifully silent Mii, which generally render quite nicely next to the Sonic and Mario figures without looking too out of place.

Your enjoyment of Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games is going to come down a few things Ė firstly, whether or not youíll be playing it on your own or not. Like Wii Sports, itís not really designed with single player mode in mind, despite the frustrating fact that you have to unlock events by going through said mode. Secondly, it obviously helps to have some kind of connection with the characters. If seeing Cream and Cheese as referees doesnít make you squeal with glee, this might not quite be the game for you. Finally, be prepared for the ache. Oh, the ache.



Amy truly is a champion role model to pink female hedgehogs around the world Fencing: sport of kings, nadir of this game

In the end, it misses a number of chances to put itself out there as a really successful multiplayer game able to capture the ideals of the Wii in the same way Wii Sports did, which is a real pity. It should have been a successor, but in the end Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games is only barely a contender.

Top Game Moment:
Frantic four player 100m dashes with friends are where this game really shines Ė itís simple enough for everyone to work it out right away.

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Comments

By BlackBolt175 (SI Newbie) on Aug 28, 2008
BlackBolt175
For ne sports mario or sonic fans i think you should try it