i’ve been playing an unusual amount of wii games this year for various reasons, one of which is that i’ve gotten some of them from the library just to try them out to see if i’d want to buy them. even though i haven’t really delved into the main exponents of the mario sports titles, i saw mario & sonic at the olympic games at the library and thought i’d go ahead and check it out. the timing wasn’t particularly great since i’d just been playing carnival games, another wii mini-game collection, but i thought it’d be interesting to see how the games compare.
although M&S did have a few instances where, like carnival games, the controls were a bit frustrating due to the difficulties of calibrating the strength and speed of a particular motion, for the most part the controls are responsive and work fine. that being the case, the focus turns to the quality of the mini-games themselves. the motion controls do a decent job of suggesting the real-life movements, such as pumping the wiimote and nunchuck up and down to run, rotating the wiimote in a circle to wind up for the hammer throw, and lifting the wiimote to jump for the triple jump. the best of these and the most immediately engaging mini-game is the trampoline event in which you press buttons on the remote and rotate it to simulate complex aerial maneuvers, and swimming, in which you mimick the various swimming strokes. the collection is fairly robust as a whole, and there really aren’t any complete duds and there’s not too much pointless “waggle”, although fencing is fairly dull. the creators have also done a pretty good job of varying the feel of events that are quite similar, such as the 100m vs 400m track events. in that particular case the latter event is more focused on maintaining your character’s stamina, as opposed to just continuously pumping your arms as fast as possible.
there are several downsides to the game as a whole, however. one of my main complaints is that since many of the games are over and done quite quickly, the longer ones really feel dragged out, such as archery and table tennis. also, skeet is annoying b/c even though the shooting in and of itself would have been reasonably challenging, there’s a frustrating mini-game before each round that affects how big your reticule is, which completely determines how difficult the subsequent shooting will be. the game also includes four “dream events” which are variations of the regular events but more in line with the mario sports games, with super moves and mario kart-style powerups. the more fantastical visual presentation of these events was nice to see, although i found the events themselves didn’t really add much to the overall package, esp. since generally the super moves are all pretty generic and lame. the game also groups events in mario kart-esque “cups”, which don’t really serve much purpose other than to require you to play through all the events in order to unlock new ones. there’s also a mission mode that requires you to play through events with slightly different objectives than normal, most of which are pointless and some of which are downright obnoxious.
my other complaints are fairly minor. the events use a wide range of motion controls, so you often have to read the instructions for each event, but b/c the movements feel natural they’re easy to remember, and they usually don’t take too much practice. the presentation is the usual mario sports variety, which is getting same-y, although it’s always nice to see series B-listers like walu and daisy. i wasn’t really familiar with many on the sonic side (who the heck is vector?), but those characters seemed to integrate with the mario sports universe fairly smoothly without any problems, although, unsurprisingly, the game in general skews to the mario series side in terms of its presentation. the game also includes some disposable mini-games that unlock useless olympics trivia and background music.
all in all, although this is a historic partnership of two of video gaming’s most famous mascots this wasn’t a game for the ages. it’s enjoyable enough despite its frustrations, especially given the fact that it’s essentially a mini-game collection, and it makes good use of its olympics theme, so much so that i found myself more interested in events that i never otherwise would have paid much attention to. and i liked the game enough to want to try out its sequel, mario & sonic at the olympic winter games. particularly b/c of the totally awesome special mii outifts you can apparently accrue in that game. rawesome.