If back in 1990 you had told either a Nintendo or Sega fanboy that both Mario and Sonic would be appearing together in a game in 2007, they would have told you that you were completely insane. Well, the unthinkable has happened, and the once-fierce rivals are now together for the first time in Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games. It's too bad that this isn't the great platforming game an entire generation has been dreaming of since the Super Nintendo Entertainment System and Sega Genesis days. Instead it's a collection of minigames, some of which are good, and many of which are not.
Say what you will about the gameplay, but that's a pretty solid list of characters to pick from.
One of the game's big draws is that it lets you use characters from the Mario and Sonic universes. From the Mario side you can select Mario, Luigi, Wario, Waluigi, Bowser, Daisy, Yoshi, or Peach. From the Sonic side you can play as Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, Amy, Blaze, Vector, Dr. Eggman, or Shadow. You can even use your Mii if you so choose. Each character is rated in a number of categories, but these ratings don't seem to matter much, if at all. Though there's no online play, the game tracks records for all events, and you can even upload your best scores and times online to see how you stack up with the rest of the world.
Mario & Sonic lets you play 20 real Olympic events, as well as a few of the fantasy variety. You can play single events; a circuit, where you compete in four events and try to finish first so that you can unlock new sports; and missions, where you compete in multiple events but have specific goals such as finishing in a certain place or throwing the javelin a particular distance. Why you'd ever not want to throw the javelin as far as you can--and instead try to toss it between 40 and 50 meters--is anyone's guess, but it's something you'll have to do here. All of these contests use motion-based controls, and some of them require both the Nunchuk and the remote. Others require only the remote. Athletic events include: 100 meter dash, 4x100 meters, 4x100m relay, 110 meter hurdles, 400 meter hurdles, long jump, triple jump, high jump, pole vault, hammer throw, and the javelin throw. These events are really basic and require little more of you than to hold B and move the Wii Remote down to start, after which you alternate moving the Nunchuk and the Wii Remote up and down to run, and then wave the remote up to jump or press the B button and wave the remote down to pass the baton.
There's more to the game than track-and-field events. Rowing places you in a single scull where you must press a button shown onscreen and then pull the remote toward you. You can take a dip in the pool for 100 meter or 4x100 meter freestyle races, which are performed much like the foot races except you have to hit the B button at specific times to keep your stamina going. If you're into gymnastics, you can hop on a trampoline, where you have to wave the remote to jump and then press buttons you see onscreen to perform moves. You can even do the vault, where you run up to a springboard and then jump across the horse while doing tricks in midair. Another event is skeet shooting, which is really tough because of the lame, timed minigame that takes place beforehand. You're shown a heart, and you have to press B when the heartbeat is right in the center. If you time it properly, your aiming reticle gets bigger; if you miss, it gets smaller and makes the event near impossible. On the other hand, archery is one of the better games. Here you press A and B, pull the Wii Remote toward you, and then line up two pairs of sights, one with the remote and the other with the Nunchuk. This isn't too tough on its own, but when you start having to take wind speed into account, it gets pretty tricky.
You know you're slow when tubby Dr. Eggman wins the race.