The Winter Olympics are upon us, which, for some gamers, might not be too much of a big deal. But for others, who have been desperately yearning for Olympic video games to play when the games are off air (or when they're on; nobody's here to judge). Sadly, this year brings no news of new additions to the greatest Olympics-related video game series of all time: Mario & Sonic.
Back in 2008, when Nintendo found itself thriving on the Wii and the DS at the same time (for at least a little while), their friendly rivals at Sega acquired the rights to produce Olympics-inspired video games. Sega, in the spirit of competition, reached out to Nintendo and received approval to use Super Mario and various characters from his franchise (like Peach, Luigi, Daisy and Bowser) to go head to head with the cast of Sonic the Hedgehog. Nintendo agreed, and from the fires of Olympia, a (then-)plumber and his bipedal animal rival began competing in some of the most entertaining Olympic video games of all time.
Characters competed across various popular sports, and each game changed based on the season of the sport and the year it came out. Each game designated the characters with athlete types, which included All Around, Speed, Power, and Skill. This was one of the major reasons for discourse outside of the somewhat faulty and inconsistent controls, but it didn't take away from the fact that each game did pretty well for a series that relied so heavily on its crossover, and never really went beyond the theme of the Olympic games.
As the series went on, it received a little less hype with each release, but players who held on to the franchise can attest to some seriously fun game play and incredible locations that matched each year's Olympic theme. The most recent release hit back in 2016 to celebrate the Olympics in Rio, but as far as Nintendo Switch releases go, players have been left a little high and dry.
Below, we rank all five of these games, from best to not-exactly-great. As Super Mario so often says: here we go.
Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games
You may have seen this coming. Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games took everything that its predecessor did and made it three times better, with platform-exclusive modes like the Adventure Mode. This meant that alongside the general "Mario and Sonic compete" premise, the characters were given a reason to do so, which wasn't exactly needed, but still pretty cool.
After all, it's not every day that one gets to watch Dr. Eggman and Bowser scheme to melt all of the snow in the Olympic village, and that's exactly what the DS version's linear storyline had to offer. The game also introduced Donkey King, Bowser Jr., Silver, and Metal Sonic to the crossover franchise, which was a total gift because Bowser Jr. made everything ten times more adorable.prevnext
Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games
The competition got hot in 2012, when Mario and Sonic faced off again in London, bringing the best of summer sports to Big Ben's doorstep. The first in the series to be released on Nintendo 3DS, this one also included another linear storyline where the primary villains of each franchise teamed up to try and ruin the day again. Over the course of seven adventure stories, players worked to save the day alongside the heroes, using the skills the generally muster up to face off against one another to take down their foes' evil plan involving an evil fog that's not as evilly-colored as they might want it to be.prevnext
Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games
The very first release in the series deserves its rightful place in the sun, mainly because it was an honestly fun, competitive game. The O.G. game introduced Dream Games; super fantastical versions of Olympic sports (and some really out-of-nowhere competitions) that spiced the game up so that players weren't just sending two video game franchise heroes through standard Olympic trials.
Dream Games were inspired by events and powers from both franchises, and the game boasted exclusives for each of the two platforms it was on - the Nintendo Wii and the Nintendo DS. It made for an extremely fun party game at the time, which was perfect for the changing era of Super Smash Bros and Mario Party.prevnext
Mario & Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games
The latest release in the franchise, this title boldly paced alongside the controversial Olympic games held in Rio in 2016. This one is great specifically because of how many new playable characters were introduced, including characters that were once bosses, for the first time since 2012.
The roster between the two games included Birdo, Rosalina, Dry Bones, Diddy Kong, Wave, Eggman Naga, Wendy, Larry, Roy, Espio, Cream, Omega, and more. The game also featured new music and returned distribution to a dual-platform format, unlike the game that came before it and only released for the Wii U.prevnext
Mario & Sonic at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games
The least fortunate of the bunch when it comes to sales, Mario & Sonic at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games was one of the most beautifully-designed games in the batch, and defied its awkward controls with intuitive game play that helped players learn specific strategies in order to overcome the many obstacle they encountered during each stage. The game was released exclusively for the Wii U, making it the first Mario & Sonic title that didn't release on both console and handheld platforms.
The game included staple winter sports like Figure Skating (singles and pairs), Skiing, Ice Hockey, Short Track, and even curling, which opened this year's Olympic games with as much vigor as this particular title's launch day. It's cool, curlers -- you still get my respect.
Unfortunately, Mario & Sonic Do Sochi doesn't quite make the cut the way all of the others do. Despite the entertainment of the Dream Events, it offered almost no new characters, or even much in the way of new costumes to collect for Mii characters.
How would you rank the Mario & Sonic games so far?prev