Due to time limitations I had to make a difficult choice last week when I met with Nintendo at E3: do I spend my precious hands-on moments with Super Mario Galaxy or Mario & Sonic At The Olympic Games? Galaxy was the obvious choice and I'm glad I went with it, but I did walk away wondering about the first official Mario/Sonic crossover. Had I just passed up gaming demo gold? AMN's Lucas DeWoody assures me that, no, I did not.
In what is probably an attempt to connect to the same demographic as Wii Sports, the controls are waaaaaaaaay overly-simplified. A lot of the games just boil back into a glorified waggle fests, much like a next-gen Track & Field on a Wii-mote where you just stand there and shake the Wiimote/Nunchuck combo as hard as you can. The game will feature a tournament mode where all the characters can compete against each other in a full Olympic setting, but the game will not support any kind of story mode which feels like a waste of the license considering the historic relevance of the joining of these two classic characters.
This sounds like such a waste of potential. I can understand the whole mini-game focus and the simplified controls. I may not like it, but I can understand it. However, what's the point of using Mario and Sonic if the developers won't give us a decent story to go along with it? Even if it is happening a few years beyond Sonic's expiration date, this is still gaming history here. Mario & Sonic should have one hell of a backstory that explains just how these two worlds came to collide for some athletic fun in China. Considering that this is Sega we're talking about here I'm not expecting an epic tale (in fact, considering the last few plots to come from Sonic the Hedgehog games I'm not so sure I'd want an epic tale), but at least craft a little narrative to put the whole thing in perspective. The game still has a few more months to bake before it's pulled out of the oven and left to cool on store shelves, so it's possible the storyline could be fleshed out before then, but I can't say I'm all that optimistic.