Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games - interview

A 15-year rivalry ends this Christmas as gaming's favorite mascots finally meet head-to-head in Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games.

The Olympics genre has already been done many times before, with plenty of success and just as much button-mashing (Track and Field excluded). So how is Sega going to take the games forward when Luigi, Tails and co. brandish the torch? Sega's UK Product manager Grant Gie talked us through an early demo of the Wii version.

Sonic and Mario are finally meeting for the first time. Which characters can we expect to see in Olympic Games, and how diverse will they be?

Gie: We've got a handful of characters from both camps at the moment, though obviously the final game will have significantly more.

Different character types have different attributes so you can pick a character that fits your own play style, or just pick your favorite and get used to their strengths and weaknesses.

Also if you're playing a circuit-style game, you can be strategic about your decision and decide whether you want a balanced character; someone who's strong but maybe not as fast, etc.

So Sonic isn't always going to win?

Gie: The great thing about this is it's similar to Mario Kart in leveling the playing field. Sonic isn't always going to win the 100-meter dash; it's really up to the players and how well they use the Nunchuk and Wii Remote.

Mario and Luigi for example are great all-rounders. Their stats are spread across speed, acceleration and dash. Sonic, meanwhile, has a good top speed but his acceleration is low. It's a real balancing act.

The final build will have lots more characters in there and some of the animation is really early at the moment. I hope you'll agree, though, that it's starting to like a really strong, almost Nintendo first-party, quality title. It is being published by Sega, but there's a critical partnership with Nintendo to make sure that the product delivered is nothing shy of first-party quality come Christmas.