Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games
The thrill of victory, the agony of defeat, and the pure joy of competition between two world-class mascots. What else could you want?
If you can find joy out of the Wii version of Mario and Sonic At the Olympic Games, you're a more patient gamer than I. When I was playing that version of the game a few months back, I found the controls to be cumbersome and hard to get into. Sure, the game looked good, and yeah, it supports the Wii online functionality when it comes to scoreboard support (and not direct competition). Still, the controls just aren't what they could've been. At least the Nintendo DS version makes up for this with a more capable control scheme. As a result, this handheld edition takes the gold.
The match-up is still the same, as you pit characters from Mario's world (Luigi and the gang) against characters from Sonic's universe (Tails, Knuckles, etc.). You have a fine selection of characters, some of which are better than others when it comes to certain attributes. (For instance, Sonic is good at, duh, speed.) You then guide them through a series of events, starting out with strict Olympic events such as dashes and skeet shooting and soon moving into "dream events" such as boxing and canoeing. Not all the events are winners, as the taxing shooting events and boring fencing events prove, but a majority of them avoid sucking to a maximum.
What's really cool here is how much more user-friendly the control is over the Wii version. Where that version forces you to flail your arms in tiring motions, here you instead stroke the screen like mad back and forth and in certain patterns to complete activities. Some of the events work a little too hardcore for their own good, creating susceptible friction on your screen over the long-term. As a result, you may cause slight damage to it, unless you play the game in short bursts - which is probably what you're going to do with it anyway. Olympic is a fun game for the most part, good to play in spurts. There could've been more useful modes (aside from the dull Trivia Mode), but what's here is still manageable - and likable. The graphics and sound are also good. They aren't amazing but they stay on the course with the Wii version.
Where the game really picks up steam is in multiplayer. You can take on up to four people locally either with one cart (through particular events) or with multiple (in full-fledged Olympic competition). Going up against others is a real delight here, as you can really show others what versus action is all about. The game also supports online leaderboard match-ups through Wi-Fi Connection, although they take quite a while to load up. If you're playing single player, there's still good AI to go up against, but earning most of the World Records are a joke. You're able to accomplish many of them in your first run. Who set these records, beta testers who don't know how to play Olympics? (And to the beta testers, we're not insulting you directly. It's just to add humor to the report. But you got the point, I assume.)
Overall, though, Mario and Sonic At the Olympic Games has its weight in gold medal, moreso than the other, flawed console version. Its gameplay, multiplayer options and presentation will hit the spot with Olympians and fans of their games everywhere. Besides, you know you want the better version...right?
What's Hot: Infinitely better than the Wii version, thanks to touch-screen controls; multiplayer options and online leaderboard support; great presentation.
What's Not: A few of the events suck; leaderboards take a while to load up; you may wear out your DS screen.