E for All: Mario & Sonic at the Olympics hands on

The gaming world threw out a collective “WTF” when they first heard the news of Nintendo and Sega mascots Mario and Sonic teaming up for a new Olympic-themed game. The pairing alone blew plenty of minds, and some didn’t even believe it until they saw a trailer. At E3 we were able to give you our impressions, and Hamza brought us a teaser hands-on, but now we’ve had a chance to get some quality time with the title at the E for All Expo.

Hit the jump to read more on our hands-on of Mario & Sonic at the Olympics

Some were quick to discount this title as a collection of Olympic-themed minigames before playing it. Now that I’ve played it, I’ll agree that it is a collection of minigames, but I wouldn’t throw it in the “pass” category just yet.

It’s easy to throw out the phrase “hit and miss” when talking about a collection of minigames, but I  came away with mostly “hit” impressions from the events I tried. Sure, all the games are wagglefests, and sure, they lean more toward the casual gaming crowd, but I’ll be damned if most weren’t a blast to play.

The 100 meter dash is played exactly as you’d expect. You hold the Wii Remote and Nunchuck and make a fisted running motion to propel yourself to the finish line. Faster hand movements make  your character move faster. From the varied characters I tried in this event, I felt like I was going about the same average speed, but they all had a different feel. Some took longer to take off, and some never seemed to get to other’s max speed, but it all seemed to average out. I don’t know how they expect Dr. Robotnik to reach the finish line at the same time as Knuckles, but I think it’s fairly obvious that the characters are mostly just icons with minor differences in control. 

Games like the races and the hurdles were the least imaginative, and probably the least fun. They play like Wii’d Track and Field events. They’re not bad, but there are more fun events to be played. Too bad there isn’t a “red light, green light” event at the Olympics. That minigame is included in Super Monkey Ball Wii, and it alone is totally worth the price of admission.

Other minigames like table tennis, archery, and skeet shooting play exactly as you think they would, but the upside here is that the control exactly as you’d think they should too. Skeet shooting is the target game (Duck Hunt) that you’ve always wanted for the Wii, and I found it hard to put down. I chose Tails (my favorite Sega character) and played a game of table tennis. Okay, I know that there are a lot of table tennis minigames, but come on — it’s Tails, and the game was fun.

As hard as it is to imagine, my favorite of the events was the trampoline gymnastics event. The control scheme had players bouncing the Wii Remote up and down to mimic jumping, and accurate timing on the downs and ups would equal higher jumps. While airborne, strings of button commands were given, and correct entry would have your character doing any number of aerial tricks before hitting the trampoline again. Even though I was given some dedicated hands-on time to play the game, I found myself coming back later in the day to try it again.

We’re getting to the point where Wii minigame collections are starting to blur together, but there have been a few standout titles in the mix. It seems like Mario & Sonic at the Olympics takes from a few of the better ones (namely Rayman Raving Rabbids and the minigames from Super Monkey Ball Wii) and makes a new title with real character appeal. There’s a few less interesting events in the mix, but none of them are duds, and anyone expecting an approachable and easy party game will be pleased. And really, where else can you pit Waluigi against Shadow in table tennis?

Dale North