Review: Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games (DS)
Posted 07 Feb 2008 at 17:42 by Tom Phillips
The portly plumber and the blue blur take to the DS. How do they match up?
Last year, Sega launched Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games for the Wii, which sat proudly atop the All-Formats chart for several weeks until stock of the game sold out. The DS version then, seems to have something to live up to, especially amongst the hoardes of other mini-game filled DS offerings...
For those who have already played the Wii version of the title, the initial similarities between the two games will quickly be apparent. The game's format is laid out in exactly the same way, with a multitude of Olympic events to progress through via Single Matches or in Circuit Mode, plus a Mission mode for obtaining specific targets, and a large amount of medals, emblems and other unlockables to be earned.
Once again the events are laid out in different types of sport, and match up well with their Wii counterparts. In fact, the transition of gameplay control from using the sometimes inaccurate (and downright exhausting) Wii Remote to that of the DS' handheld stylus and touch-screen is a benefit to the game, with tighter and more responsive controls all around. You will however still look like a fool on the bus frantically scrabbling your stylus across the touch-screen. It is worth noting that not all events are controlled by the touch-screen however, with Table Tennis using the D-Pad and buttons, and cycling requiring an alternate pummelling of the Left and Right shoulder buttons - simulating your character's legs pumping down on the pedals.
Happily, Sega have expanded the Dream Events section of the game - which features unlockable events deviating from the more realistic style of the other sports, instead more orientated towards the rich worlds of the respective Mario and Sonic universes. Dream Canoe is a good example, where you must sail around to collect coins while firing Mario Kart power-ups at your opponents. Dream Basketball is slightly reminiscent of Quidditch, and pictured below is Dream Shooting, where instead of clay pigeons, you must destroy an altogether more menacing enemy.
Quite possibly the most fun event in the whole game is Dream Long Jump - which is about as far from standard Long Jump as one indeed could dream. Taking a jump off the edge of a floating platform, players must take a horizontal dive down to earth through floating rings which give you speed boosts. And then you have to make sure you land on one of the islands below...
It's good to see that the more dubious events of the Wii version have been given a brush up, with the excruciatingly long Skeet Shooting now shortened and made a lot easier. Over-all the difficulty of the events is just about right - don't expect to pick up every one on your first try, but with a few attempts they can be quickly mastered.
Over-all, the game looks and sounds polished. Sixteen characters (eight from the Mario universe, eight from Sonic's) are playable, their movements on-screen are well animated (including Waluigi's trademark gangling walk) and all the familiar faces sound as they should. The stadia and tracks are rendered faithfully to the originals, and the Dream Event's Mushroom Kingdom-esque location looks rather nice too, with bubbling Mario and Sonic fountains. Pleasingly, there's little to say in this area other than that over-all, the graphics couldn't be much better for the DS' power capabilities.
Up to four players can compete locally, though there is no Wi-Fi Connection online play option (though the Wi-Fi Connection is recognised for uploading records - more on that later). Gameplay remains smooth while playing with other gamers, and the title features both multi-card and DS Download play. Replays once again prove to be either incredibly painful in highlighting how you were pipped to the post, or alternatively full of bragging rights in showing how satisfyingly you just edged your narrow win. A nice feature is that when you're playing against other players and you yourself have finished your turn, you get a camera feed showing your competitors who are still going, allowing you to see exactly what they are up to (...and how much they're beating you by).
Longevity-wise, apart from the multiplayer options there is plenty to unlock, and the Circuits and Missions will keep gamers who are playing through the title on their own busy for a decent amount of time. The Rankings section allows you to view all your medals, emblems and records, and also allows you to see how well you match up with other players of the game via online leaderboards, accessible through the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection. There's also the Gallery section of five mini-games, which are highly reminiscent of the addictive touch-controlled offerings found in Super Mario 64 DS and Super Mario Bros. DS, and definitely deserve a mention.
Once again, there is no Story Mode to the title - the game is all about the events themselves. For gamers who have already played the Wii version, it is very much "more of the same", but for those who enjoyed the experience, the DS version's larger roster of events may still make this a worthwhile purchase.
For those looking for a faithful Sports simulation, this isn't for you. For anyone who wants a party-game style title where you can play as Mario, Sonic and co. in some crazy and fun mini-games on the DS - look no further.
Our scores, as always, are just below...
N-Europe Final Verdict
Addictive, fun, and long-lasting. What more can we say?
Expanded event roster
Polished gameplay & graphics
No unlockable characters
No online matches