Now, it’ll come as no surprise that this isn’t a particularly wonderful or long-lasting single player game. The circuits soon grow dull, the separate ‘Missions’ mode feels tacked-on and pointless, and the Olympic Trivia section with its shockingly basic mini-games is tiresome. What matters is whether it works where Wii Sports worked: when you have the family or a group of mates around and you want to get everyone up and playing. The answer is, well, sort of maybe. The combination of heroic exertion and the variety of events works pretty well, and the sprints, shooting, table tennis and gymnastic events will probably keep everyone occupied on a rainy afternoon.
The biggest problem with the other events is complexity. Unlike the sports in Wii Sports or the games in Wii Play, the long jump or the archery or javelin or the pole vault just aren’t easy enough to pick up and play, either due to the complexity of the controls or the fact that you really have to learn the timing. Anyone who has put in an hour or two at the game will have a huge advantage, while everyone else will soon be discouraged by their own dismal failure. Meanwhile, your father-in law will be facing a coronary and your sister will be moaning about just how much her arms ache and how it isn’t fair that she got three fouls in the triple jump while you achieved a new world record. In short, as a party game, Mario & Sonic at The Olympics only half works.
This isn’t necessarily a disaster if your household wants something to follow Wii Sports and has the time to put in to learn the ropes, but it spoils the game as a would-be casual classic. So next time Mario and Sonic meet up, let’s have something different. Why not a 3D spin on the PSP’s Sonic Rivals or a kick-ass Mario Kart to die for? Or why not bring in another ageing gaming hero while we’re at it? I don’t know about you, but I think Mario, Sonic and Duke Nukem at The Sleazy Strip Joint with Pistols and Pipe Bombs has a certain ring to it….
For all the star power on show here, Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games is just another mixed collection of Wii mini-games. Given practice it might be fun at parties, but it doesn’t have the instant pick up and play magic of Wii Sports.