I think I’m with most gamers when I say that my biggest question regarding this unusual collaboration is what exactly Mario is doping to enable him to match Sonic in a foot race. After having spent an afternoon with the game at the Wii Flat in London, I’m even more confused. Mario was pretty brisk if you held the run button, but when Bowser, Wario, and Eggman can keep up…well…it’s madness!
Once I was over my apoplectic fit and could put aside my inner fanboy, however, I couldn’t stay angry with it. I was too exhausted to…
So I got to visit the Wii flat, and spend a few hours with some other bloggers and the game. The flat is a weird place, hidden down an alley between a pub and a computer shop, where inside you’ll find a collection of LCD TVs, all with Wiis attached. I won’t divulge the exact location for fear of sending a horde of angry parents who can’t find Wiis for Christmas over there, but it’s like some kind of bizarre yet somewhat tastefully-decorated shrine, complete with Wii-themed art everywhere. It’s where I’d imagine some of the more nutty Nintendo fanboys living if they didn’t still live with their parents.
But we’re here to talk about the game, Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games. It’s a schizophrenic game, with different events ranging dramatically in quality and skill requirements and allowing clear favourites to emerge. Some are good enough to enjoy on your own against the computer, some (or most) won’t be enjoyable without drunken friends, and predictably there are some bad apples there that it’s doubtful that you’ll play more than once.
The running events are fairly perfunctory, consisting of little more than thrashing the controllers as fast as you can – incredibly tiring over 400m, I tell you – which can occasionally commit the cardinal sin of not seeming to reflect your actions in the game. At the other extreme you’ve got events like the pole vault and triple jump which require shifting between two or three waggling disciplines, with mixed success. As above, they range in quality and as with the likes of Athlete Kings or International Track and Field they’re really multiplayer games. Single player is just kind of there, on the off-chance you want to wave around like a loon without other people to see you.
Now this might seem contradictory when I’ve just complained about the muddled mixed-discipline events, but I had a much better time with the events that contained a bit more depth. There are split-screen (how quaint) “dream events”, set away from Beijing in the various gaming universes, which play out like Mario Kart races. It’s a nightmare trying to balance wild waggling with avoiding obstacles and firing shells, but it’s as uproarous and unpredictable in multiplayer as its inspiration. I was shit at the trampolining – which has you moving the remote up and down while inputting on-screen button combinations – since I clearly don’t know my Wii buttons well enough, but it was one of the more inventive and successful games.
My favourite, though, was the fencing. It takes in attacks, parries, and feints, which all work well and create a game that actually has some depth. Play against someone of equal skill and matches are close, back-and-forth affairs that more often than not come down to the final point (first to 15), with a clever player always having a chance to get back into it. I could have spent even longer on this mode.
Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games, like most compilations, seems to range dramatically in quality, but overall it’s one of the best compilations on the Wii and should be fun with friends. You’ll probably want to avoid it if you’re out for a deep single player experience, though.
If you want to see more of the event take a look at the following blogs who were also there:
You can see an official video (featuring me :/) here.