Previews// Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games

Posted 6 Nov 2007 17:40 by
SEGA has been vocal about its landmark joint-project with Nintendo, Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games. This is made more obvious by the fact that very recently, I was invited to dress up and take part in all the old It?s A Knockout courses from the 1970s. Even dapper, erudite, oeuvre-defining, gargantuan character of radio and television ? nay! Of all media - host Stuart Hall was on hand.

Three teams competed for the glory of some medals and champagne: Team Mario (which consisted of all the athletes apparently), Sonic Team (mostly SEGA employees) and Team Tails (everyone else, including myself and two Page 3 girls).

I wasn?t alive to be in the midst of all the TV excitement that was It?s A Knockout (You young fool, it was the last time a team from England ever managed to win anything worthwhile in Europe ? Shrewsbury beat all of Europe in 1969!. Ed.).

Frankly I never bothered to watch the rather cruddy revival shows popping up as of late. However, actually participating in a classic version of the game show ? where contestants had to use their guile and integrity to overcome bouncy castle-style obstacles in budgie costumes ? is perhaps one of the best press event situations I?ve been in.

Hold on, just one darned second here. Am I being lead to believe that a game of this historic import tied to an event so huge on the world stage that it could bankrupt a small country is being introduced to the press in the form of a comedy game show that died in about 1973? This game features what, in many people?s minds, is the equivalent of God and Satan (or Satan and God, I?m not proud, I?m a Zool man myself) making up past differences in order to reap cash by appearing at, well, the Olympics! And it?s being festooned not with Nicole Kidman but with two Page Three ?dollies?? Does anybody else feel that possibly Mario & Sonic At The Olympic Games is not being taken entirely seriously at this stage in its development? Ed.

Naturally my team lost, what with the fragile walking bosoms amounting to the power of one, and me having a foot shoved in my eye socket. But I?m not bitter. Having Hall chat up the ladies and proving a fair match in Tug of War made up for it, along with the smack-talk that was happening behind the scenes (Team Mario so fixed the games). And we played a bit of the Wii game itself, so bonus!

While Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games isn?t likely to challenge the very core of your hardcore being, having loads of people around makes for an enjoyable party game. As you may know already, you?re given a choice of many characters from the Sonic and Mario universes ? Yoshi, Shadow, Tails, Peach, Luigi and Eggman as just some of the faces you?ll be able to play; each with their own set of statistics. Similar to Mario Kart, there are heavyweight, speed types and skilled characters that all have differing abilities.

The games on offer are split up into categories, so all the track races such as the 100m and 400m are available under ?Athletics? while Javelin and Archery are listed under ?Shooting?.

I played a 100m sprint or five where, using the Nunchuk and Wii Remote, I had to move the controllers up and down alternately to get a good running speed. Frankly, this was exhausting ? and no, I hadn?t started It?s A Knockout by then.

There must be a trick to it (or I must be so unfit I should get out of the house more) because I kept losing miserably. It is a bit strange to see Sonic not bursting into action as you would expect, but given the nature of the game and how balance has to be taken into account, I wasn?t completely disappointed with the ?Blue Blur? losing to Shadow. It was losing to Amy I couldn?t understand.

Moving on? while all the other games are set in the official Beijing stadium, and played by Olympics rules, Dream Events are set in fantasy worlds that best befit our furry and pudgy title mascots. For obvious reasons, I took to these with greater skill and somewhat more Úlan.

One particular game had the characters freefall from a blimp towards the ocean. The aim here is not to die in a salt-water splatter, but to perform tricks and earn the most points in the way down. Think Greg Luganis without the headshot but featuring fictional creatues. Avoiding blocks will maintain your points ratio, while item boxes allow you some leverage in the heat of the moment. Falling through rings will kickstart a quick time sequence, where specific button presses (and motion gestures) of the Wii Remote will earn you Performance Points.

To my mind, the nature of ?Wii Waggling? has been turned on its head here ? or at least nudged over a few degrees. Let me explain; obviously it?s a party game, so for the interests of being accessible to everyone, Mario & Sonic involves some flailing action. It appears, however, that SEGA has gone hell for leather with it ? in fact, it?s just gone mental with the gestures. Some of the stuff I had to do, like the up-and-down motion to run, is so exerting that it goes beyond ?ho-hum? waggling and into more interesting territory. You can?t ignore that which is making you tired, after all.

While there are a myriad of additional games that I?m sure don?t really test your arms too much, there wasn?t any time left to dedicate to the game as I was currently in a game of my own - to the death apparently, if Stuart Hall was to be believed. I?m still here thankfully, and came away a little bit more intrigued as to what Mario & Sonic has to offer. The game comes out in little over a month, so be sure to check back on SPOnG for our definitive view on the game as it arrives.

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