Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games may have been a dream of the marketing teams at Nintendo, SEGA and the International Olympic Committee -- but the title on the Nintendo DS is actually surprisingly good. At least, considering the fact that it's meant to be a party game, and that most franchise games tend to be on the poor side.
To make this game stand out from the Wii version, the developers have included a few exclusive events that are unobtainable. These are 10m Platform Diving and Cycling as standard events, and then a further five Dream Events, which are Canoing, Boxing, Basketball, Long Jump and Skeet Shooting. Each of these events are fast paced and well executed on the DS's touch screen and some of the games even take use of the DS's microphone. Which few games tend to do these days.
The controls are very simple across all of the games that are played. If that part of the game has only just been unlocked or un-played the controls are defaulted onto the screen. Although controlling the characters is usually just making a variety of different shapes on the screen. After creating said shapes, the character of choice will hopefully dash off in front of the competition and win a Gold Medal -- if not, then the option to replay is always there.
With each event, the option to play as your favourite Nintendo or SEGA character is available. However, while the option to play as Peach when in the shooting event may seem like a good idea, her vital statistics may prove to be a let down. The same would go for Dr Robotnik/Eggman doing the 100m sprint -- it may seem like a good idea at the time, but winning the race will become incredibly difficult. Whereas using Sonic, Yoshi or Shadow for the 100m sprint will be far more successful.
The graphics on Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games DS are very good. With most of Nintendo and SEGA's well-known characters being incredibly bright the title manages to pull of the striking colours with ease. The background to each of the events is equally as bright and the textures, such as the grass and the tracks, are all very detailed and do not look grainy. The only possible problem with the title is that with all of the bright colours, prolonged playing of the game may make the game appear a little jarring.
The sound quality of this game is good as well, although there is nothing that's really distinct the opening "Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games" has been done well and the roar of the crowd during the games doesn't sound tinny and does sound fairly genuine. The menu option music is ultimately forgettable but of a decent quality. Fortunately, the audio quality is improved with headphones, but without the headphones the sound certainly isn't detrimental.
Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games isn't particularly difficult, either. Although certain events will be harder than others, it's down to a very basic thought process, really. Sonic is good at running, so using him for the running events is a far more intelligent idea than using Bowser. Aside from the basic rule of getting the right characters, the only other difficult aspect is making sure that the DS recognizes when the stylus is moving. As in certain events, if you don't remove the stylus from the screen, the event will probably be lost because it hasn't understood the difference between charging up and the furious screen rubbing.
The only area that has really been missed out on this time is the lack of a real multiplayer mode. Although you can challenge other people, they are required to have their own cartridge to get the full experience. There is also no option to play against other people via the Nintendo WiFi, which is a great shame, as it would have opened up many more hours of gameplay. There are basic online modes, but not for playing in any of the events - only for uploading and downloading top scores, which soon becomes a chore for most people.
Final Verdict - 7/10
An enjoyable game for the Nintendo DS that will keep many entertained for many hours. Yet the lack of any real multiplayer mode online is the biggest let down of Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games on the DS as it removes the biggest element of the game - the very fact that it's a party game.