Last Friday Sega invited me to the Wii house in Central London to play a preview of Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games.
I must admit when I first heard about the game, about 4 months ago, I wasn’t particularly interested. Cynical old me thought it was going to be a bit of a cash in on the popularity of two of gamings biggest stars combined with the backing of the Olympics next year. However as the release has gotten closer I have become more interested – then last week I got an invite… and I had to give it a go.
The Wii house is a flat in London, owned by Nintendo, used to show journalists their games. The house has a number of Wiis with nice big widescreen tv’s so people can play the games in comfort. All very swish.
After a short introduction we were given a chance to play the game. We started with the 100 meters sprint, before trying the hurdles, the hammer throw, long jump, trampolining, skeet shooting, and a whole host of other events.
Before attempting an event you get to chose your character, there are 8 each from the Sonic and Mario camps, with 4 characters in each of the character types (power, all round, speed and skill) and each character has individual attributes that could affect the outcome of the competition. Interestingly this is also the first third party game, albeit one tied closely to Nintendo, to allow the use of Miis – so you can compete in the games as yourself, awesome! I started off trying to chose different characters for each event based upon who I thought would be best at each challenge – but by the end of the day I was going for Wario every time – he’s the best.
The games have all been designed to be played as closely to the actual events as possible – some requiring super fast movement, and others more relaxed precision. Gone are the Track and Field days of mashing buttons for pretty much every event – now there is a unique scheme for everything. For example the sprint requires alternately moving the Wiimote and Nunchuk up and down as fast as possible, whereas the hammer throw has you swinging the Wiimote like a lasso, and the Skeet Shooting is a point and shoot type affair. I was actually quite surprised at how well all the motions tied into the different events – clearly you’re not doing the events for real, but it’s probably the closest you will get with just a Wii and a TV for company.
The events themselves are all based on events from the actual Olympics. You start off with X amount to play and then unlock new challenges the more you compete. Sega worked very closely with the organisers of the Beijing Olympics and the stadium you are competing in is a digital recreation of the one from that will be hosting the Olympics next year.
On top of the real events there are 3 dream events, of which we got to play one – a Mario Kart inspired race around a desert track. It works much like the sprint, wave the Wiimote and Nunchuk up and down to run, but it has added obstacles to avoid (jump and run around with the Nunchuk analogue stick), and powerups to use to confound your opponents.
Like the Sega Rally preview I went to a couple of months ago – this event had a small tournament at the end to find out who was the best. Unlike the Sega Rally event a couple of months ago I didn’t fail miserably. In fact I won.
Wario really is the best – and this game really is good fun. It’s not a hardcore sports sim but there is a lot of challenge in there (especially the Skeet Shooting!). Much like Mario Party and Warioware this is the sort of game that would work great with a bunch of friends and a couple of beers. It really is fun for the whole family – and it’s a pretty good workout too.
BTW I am in that photo up there – posing with Mario and Sonic… and so is Robsta who went with me.
You can also check out some of the other blogs that were at the event too…