Almost single-handedly responsible for Sega’s most successful financial year since 1992, it’s easy to forget that for all its success Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games could have ended up a terrible game, an anomaly in the rivalries between the two heroes.
It seems like a recipe for surefire commercial (if not critical) success – take the world’s best-selling consoles, mix it with the game world’s most recognisable characters, the Olympic licence and release it around Christmas. Luckily it was also a huge word-of-mouth success, as its accessible take on track and field entertained everyone who played it, and it sold out countless times in the run-up to Christmas. It’s had long-standing sales though, rarely (if ever – I forget!) dipping out of the all-formats top ten, and with the real Olympics I’m sure its sales will see another boost pretty soon.
Enough of its success though – it is actually a good game, at its best in the multiplayer events that combine plenty of frantic Remote shaking with skilful timing. There’s plenty to unlock as well, from extra standard events to the “Dream Events” that mix athletics with game elements such as Green Shells and Super Sneakers. For such a casual game there’s plenty of depth to it, and even if you haven’t got three friends you can still get plenty of life by challenging the scores on the online leaderboards.
There are rumours of a second Mario and Sonic Olympics to be released around this Christmas, and in all honesty I can’t think of too much they could introduce to improve it. Online multiplayer, more characters and events and Wii Balance Board support would be welcome additions, but the original is a truly classic sports game that will still be as enjoyable ten years on.