The Average Gamer

Preview: Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games

Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games Logo Sega held another blogger’s day this week, like the one we were at in August for Sega Rally. This time we got to play Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games. Despite being a real-world tie-in, this is a bloody good game.

It’s officially approved by the Olympic committee for the upcoming Beijing games. They had a lot of influence over the gameplay and their input helped ensure that this isn’t the crappy Wii Sports clone it could have been. Wii Sports is a great game but its lack of depth means that we rarely play it unless we have visitors. It’s just not that engaging compared to… well, pretty much any other game we own.

The Game

Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games - Archery at the Wii FlatMario and Sonic at the Olympic Games has over 20 different Olympic sports to play. They’ve chosen a good range of them, too. You have the basic track and field events, like hammer throw, triple jump, sprints, hurdles and relays. There’s also skeet shooting, trampoline, archery and a bunch of swimming and gymnastic events. To top it all off you can unlock Dream events which use the skills you learn from the Olympics and drop you into a more traditional Mario/Sonic fantasy setting. And yes, there is a sprint version of Mario Kart so you can get your fix of cheating flinging lightning bolts at your friends.

The proper sports event are much more detailed than Wii Sports. In general, Wii Sports only modelled a small aspect of the games – for Wii Baseball, you didn’t have to worry too much about the game. You just smack the ball with the right timing and you’re off! The game did all the running and fielding for you. In Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games (or MSOG as I shall now call it) they’ve put a lot of work into properly modelling the events.

For archery, you use the Wiimote to draw back your arrow and aim, much as we expected for Zelda: Twilight Princess but didn’t see. You have to worry about the wind direction as well as keeping your aim steady. For Pole Vault, you don’t just run and jump. You have to run, lower the Wiimote to plant the pole at the right time, struggle to spring yourself up to the right height and flip your body over the bar. Mario and Sonic Olympic Games - Perfect 10 on Trampoline Each section has its own control style. Passing a baton between relay runners means raising the Wiimote as you would a real baton; rowing needs you to row with the Wiimote and nunchuck; and trampolining involves swinging the wiimote up and down to bounce you to greater and greater heights. Once you’re high enough you have to pull off a complex button combo to finish the acrobatic routine in time for the next bounce. I played it once. And scored a perfect 10. Click on the picture for photographic proof. I like the trampoline section ;)

As for the characters – you can play with your Mii, though I have yet to see how an armless, legless Mii can cope with trampoline or fencing. You can also choose from sixteen characters, eight from the Mario world and eight from Sonic. Each character has its own advantages. Sonic is, unsurprisingly, very fast while Princess Peach is, more surprisingly, good at skill-based events. It’s still balanced so playing Sonic doesn’t mean you’ll win all the speed events. Shadow is just as quick, so playing with your friends doesn’t turn into a race for the best character. Even playing by yourself is entertaining. There will be online leaderboards so you can attempt to beat everyone’s “Olympic” records.

In Summary

It’s great – a fantastic step forwards from Wii Sports. I fully expect Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games to be this year’s family Christmas title. It will be released in the UK on 23rd November 2007. You can preorder it from

The Bloggers’ Event

As for the event itself… the Wii flat is nice in a crowded kind of way. If you’re going to use a domestic setting to demonstrate a game to seven people, for heaven’s sake put a futon or sofa bed in the tiny bedroom! Sega also had a video camera and did a few interviews with us. With any luck mine, won’t be uploaded anywhere since I’m not much good at off-the-cuff diplomacy. They asked me what I thought of the event and the only thing that came to mind was “You hired people in Mario and Sonic costumes? Seriously, how old do you think we are? Six??” Thankfully, I didn’t say that but all I could come up with was a slightly confused expression, along with a mildly patronised “It was very exciting”. I’m definitely not cut out for videocasting. And I still posed for photos with Giant Mario and Giant Sonic.

It was good afternoon anyway. A fun game and it was nice to meet up with our fellow UK games bloggers, who are apparently all male. The other woman in the photo below was part of the marketing team.

Bloggers with Mario and Sonic at the Wii Flat

Other blogs there
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