January 22, 2008 - Earlier in 2007, SEGA announced Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games for both the Nintendo Wii as well as the Nintendo DS consoles. As we got closer to the end of the year, SEGA decided to send the Nintendo DS version into 2008 instead of pairing it up with its Wii brother for a simultaneous launch. Whatever the strategy behind this – whether the handheld game needed a bit more time in development, or whether the company was afraid the two versions would eat into each others' sales numbers – the fact remains that, apart from a few control tweaks and changes, as well as an extra mode or two in the handheld rendition, the two versions are almost identical in design. That's certainly not a bad thing as SEGA's unique mash-up of two familiar brands is a pretty fun Track & Field-style design, and it's impressive to see how well the handheld team kept up with the console developers when building the DS game.
The game is certainly not short on features. Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games contains 16 playable characters from two company's line-up of franchise personas, and they're all grouped together based on talent in events: speed, strength, and skills. If it's a foot race, your best bet is to put a fast runner in there; a throwing event, a strong character. You get the idea. And the event list is pretty extensive, too, with 16 different Olympic-based events – from track & field/decathlon challenges to ping pong and trampoline bouncing – that have different styles of gameplay. On top of that are Dream Challenges based on existing events, as well as specific mission challenges for each of the 16 characters. Everything's tracked by an achievement system that awards trophies for all that you do in the game, and if you sync up your system to the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection service, you can transfer your events scores and times to the worldwide server and see how you rank.
This all sounds familiar because, in description, you could apply it all to the Wii version of the game that shipped more than two months prior. It's not entirely a bad thing to have the same design. In fact, it's a testament to the power and the abilities of the Nintendo DS and the handheld team to see such an accurate representation of the Wii game on the handheld. The audio and visual experience is pretty close on the handheld, and the 3D engine is pretty slick for Nintendo DS standards with the way it displays detailed, realtime rendered character models and backgrounds across both screens, either in two different camera angles or as one tall screen sharing the upper and lower display.
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ESRB Content Descriptors: Mild Cartoon Violence
Features: Multi-card Multiplayer, DS Card Save