Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games
At long last, Sonic and his furry friends go head-to-head with their greatest gaming rival, Mario, and his posse of plumbers. It's one big, epic showdown... or is it?
When this game was first announced, fans of Mario and fans of Sonic were thrilled that the two rivals would finally meet head-to-head. Not only that, but the meeting would take place in the greatest tournament of sportsmanship ever created–the Olympics Games. Along with Mario and Sonic, of course, came their friends (and enemies) Tails, Peach, Luigi, Knuckles, Eggman, Bowser (etc.). It certainly seemed set up to be the memorable, gaming clash since Super Smash Brothers.
So is this really it? Is this really the great showdown that Mario and Sonic fans have been waiting for? More importantly, who comes out on top? Read on to find out!
Depending on the player’s attitude, he or she can learn either good sportsmanship or bad sportsmanship. A gamer can learn to say, “I lost. Oh well, good job opponent.” Or they can get really mad. Either way, it depends on the player.
A few events require teamwork between the player and a CPU. If these events are played with a second human player, that dependence and encouragement on teamwork is even stronger.
There’s some educational value to this game as well. If desired, the player can look up and learn fun facts about the real Olympics by playing some mini-games. Unfortunately, you’ll have to force yourself through the mini-games (which get repetitious) to get to these goodies.
Chaos Emeralds are an item that you can use in the game, but unlike regular Sonic games, they have no spiritual ties. I didn’t find any spiritual content in this game.
Gameplay Violence. Gameplay violence is tame and hardly worth mentioning. In the fencing matches, players can thrust at each other with blunted rapiers. If a character is hit, they wince and grunt, but it’s all very cartoony and harmless. In some events, players can attack other players with items like Koopa shells. When hit, the character will merely jump in the air and flash briefly. In Dream Table Tennis, a player may occasionally be knocked completely over by a special hit from the ball. Again, it’s very cartoony–tamer than a Bugs Bunny cartoon–and you’re more likely to laugh about it than anything else.
There is absolutely no language in this game. It’s extremely family-friendly.
There is one instance of crude humor in the game, however (and I bet you can’t guess who it involves…). In Dream Table Tennis, Wario’s special power move involves him… er… passing gas on the ball.
Nothing. Peach and Daisy wear shorty shorts, but it’s more for athletic purposes than anything else.
Are you kidding me?
Other Negative Content
The only thing that really bothered me about this game (it’s a bit of a pet peeve of mine) is the way that the defeated characters react to losing. Unlike Smash Brother’s Brawl where the losers clap for the winners, the characters in Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games usually react in negative ways. Some stomp their feet angrily, some hang their head and wish they had done better, some bang their hands on the ground, and so on. As a gamer (or parent) I wouldn’t let this concern you unless you (or your child) is going to begin imitating the character’s bad attitudes about losing. If you must, just have a little talk with younger gamers about how a good sport would react to losing.
Some characters can be a little prideful. Yes, Shadow, this means you. When victorious, they claim, “Naturally…” or “I am the ultimate” (etc.).
Gameplay with the Wiimote works well… most of the time. Unfortunately, one of the events (archery) is almost impossible to do the way that the instructions tell you (a least, the first couple times around, anyway). Supposedly, you simply hold the Wiimote and Nunchuck together and pull back like you’re shooting a real bow. Unfortunately, in reality, you’ll have the Wiimote pulled up and the Nunchuck pulled so far to your right that you’re getting a stretching workout just doing it.
Whether it be shooting skeet, paddling your canoe, swinging your racket, or tossing your javelin, the controls work realistically. The running races, however, can be very hard on your arms, as you’re forced to pound them up and down so quickly that you’re panting and exhausted when it’s over. Trust me, you’ll only be doing two or three races per sitting.
Many events that use the Wiimote and Nunchuck can also use the Wiimote only. However, it is recommended that both are used in the running races (you go much faster and don’t work half as hard). Other events, like the canoe race, are more advantageous with only the Wiimote because you aren’t forced to push as many buttons as you would if you were playing with the Nunchuck also.
The game is made doubly fun, of course, by the competitive two-player mode and the ability to use user-created Miis. By using a Mii, you can pit yourself against Mario’s super-jumps and even outrun Sonic. It’s a lot of fun, and you’re likely to get a good laugh out of it.
Some gamers may be confused by the Table Tennis rules. Sometimes, a point that seems like it should to go to one player is given to the other. I, myself, had to question if there wasn’t a glitch in that particular mini-game somewhere.
The graphics are wonderful. The character models are accurate for all characters of both series. Many of the characters standing in the audience (chao, flicky, etc.) are 2D, pixilated figures, however, which detracts from the overall presentation. From some angles of the camera, this might seem a little cheesy, but most players won’t care; they’ll be too focused on what their character on the screen is doing.
The single, CGI sequence at the beginning of the game is beautifully rendered. It’s really a shame that there weren’t more of them.
A lot of the music (if not all of it) is orchestrated. The main theme/credits theme is a beautifully arranged piece that feels powerful, athletic, and uplifting. It’s really no wonder that it was preformed by an entire symphony. The music is quite appropriate for various events and carries with it a sound typical to Mario or Sonic.
Sounds are crisp and clear. The claps and cheers of the audience seem realistic. The shooting of a gun or the cartoonish blip, bloop sounds that tell you how high your meters and distance have ranged are all fun and appropriate.
Voice acting can get a bit cheesy at times, but it’s limited to winning, losing, and starting lines. There aren’t many of these either. Mario characters sound a bit odd at times, and all of the characters can get a bit corny on occasion, but overall the voice acting is brief and appropriate for the younger age group it targets.
Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games is an excellent, family-friendly choice to add to your Wii collection. Though the absence of a story mode may throw some off, those who look over this will find a fun (and fun-ny) game that they will get many hours out of. Its four-player mode makes it perfect for a Wii contest night, and its friendly sportsmanship ideals make it light-hearted and easy for anyone of any age to jump into.
At the beginning of this review, I said I would answer the vital question: “Who comes out on top, Mario or Sonic?” Once again, SEGA and Nintendo dodge the answer completely. Neither group of characters seems to be dominant over the other. In fact, the answer is truly up to the player. If they want to win the Olympics as Mario or Sonic or both then they are given that choice.
In the end, I suppose you could say that we don’t see the epic “showdown” between Mario and Sonic that fans were expecting. Instead, though, we see something just as rewarding: a great family game with the potential for a sequel… or two… or three…
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+ Wide selection of games
+ Great party-night game
+ Beautiful CG opening
+ Orchestrated score
+ Clean and family-friendly with only the most minor of content issues
- 2D audience graphics feel cheap
- Some difficult control schemes
- Running races is brutal on the arms
- Some mild, cartoony violence, crude humor, and bad attitudes about losing