Created by Sega / Rated E / 1-4 Players / Wii Remote + Nunchuk / MSRP $50


Here it is. After 15 long years, Mario and Sonic are finally going head to head in the very first video game to feature both franchises. For a game with so much potential, it's frightening to discover how pathetic this game turned out to be. The list of problems go on and on, so I'll only pick my top four to discuss.

For a game that's all about Mario vs. Sonic, it certainly doesn't feel like it was made specifically for their franchises. Instead, it becomes pretty clear it's actually a generic Olympic mini-game compilation with Sonic and Mario dropped into the middle of it. Every character on the roster is stiff and lifeless.

Instead of doing individual stretching before a race, or holding their hips to catch their breath afterwards, they simply stand up straight with perfect posture. Insert a close-up of the winner with the announcer congratulating them by name, and it's a good full second pause before they begin their "hooray" animation. That's all you get. That's what makes Luigi Luigi, or Amy Amy. It's absolutely pathetic, and doesn't give you any feeling that you're actually playing as the individual characters. It feels as though you're controlling the same piece of choppy wire-frame animation for every character. There's simply no life given to any of the characters, and it's quite depressing to see such little focus placed on making every character you play feel different and unique.

The next major fault is forcing these characters to compete in Olympics meant for humans, and not allowing them to do any better than we can. For example, the 100meter dash is exactly 100meters, and the fastest times are based on real world-records. While it's nice to have you competing for actual world-record titles, you end up seeing Sonic run as fast as a human. In reality (a virtual one, of course), Sonic should be absolutely torching these records and blazing across the track with a stream of fire left in his wake. Let Mario keep up, sure, but don't keep everyone at ridiculously slow speeds to make them match real times. These characters should be running at least twice as fast. If anything, adjust the distances to match the times if the Beijing Olympics are forcing you to stick with real times. It's like watching Superman and the Flash race the Olympics without their powers. Who would really care at that point?

The third major fault of this title is the poor use of controls. At times these enhance the experience, and make it a better game than it really is, while most of the time you're left wondering what Sega was thinking. Even simple events such as Table Tennis should be easy to program since Nintendo could pass their Wii Tennis code over, but instead it becomes a frustrating battle of delayed power-swings.

The biggest control disaster of all is easily awarded to Fencing. You move left and right with the nunchuk, attack by thrusting the Wii Remote towards the screen, and defending by holding 'A' and swinging the remote downwards. First off, why do I need to both hold 'A' and swing downwards? Was swinging down not enough? Second, to run you need to double-tap the control stick. Wait, double-tap a control stick? Isn't a control stick designed for going both slow and fast? Have we learned nothing from Mario 64 eleven years ago? And finally, the entire fight is flawed because the act of "defending" has a significant delay between the time you act out the motion and when your character actually does it on the screen. In other words, if you try to defend when you see an enemy attack, the delay ensures you'll never successfully defend based on reaction time only.

The final flaw is what the game asks of you in order to unlock all of the awards? Well, you'll need to beat all 16 circuits, clear all 96 character missions, complete 25 absurd mini-games (to answer boring trivia questions), and earn Gold medals in every single event with every single character (we're talking a total of 384 gold medals here). Some may be brave enough to "go for the gold," but the game is so plodding, dull, and uninspired that no one will find enough to enjoy here.

Verdict: The definition of mediocre.