To call Mario & Sonic At The Olympic Games a success is to call Mount Everest a bit tall. The game has sold more than ten million units around the world, driven by its combination of loveable iconic characters and fun, accessible mini-games that delighted entire families the world over.
A sequel, it could be argued, was inevitable. Sure enough, MCV revealed a snow-covered follow-up back in February in the form of Mario & Sonic At The Olympic Winter Games. Needless to say, this is going to be big.
Set during next year’s Vancouver event, the title sees gaming’s favourite mascots competing once more,
and arrives on retail shelves just in time to dominate the gifting period for a second time. Sega is, understandably, rather optimistic.
“The first Mario & Sonic Olympic title has sold over two million units in the UK alone,” says marketing manager Jo Fawell. “The Winter Olympic version is a whole new Mario & Sonic experience. It’s bigger and better than ever, and we’re confident that consumers will agree that this is a great game and a perfect Christmas gaming gift.”
A change of season means a change in line-up, with a brand new range of events for players to participate in.
Gone are the running circuits and swimming pools of
the original, heralding the arrival of ice rinks, snowy mountain passes and toboggan runs.
Every winter sport imaginable is available, including the likes of skiing, skating, luge, bobsleigh and more.
There are even new dream events, bringing a little video game charm to an otherwise serious sporting event, with examples including the Dream Snowball Fight.
Another new aspect is a more immersive approach to controls. Once again, the game will make the most of the Wii’s motion sensitive controls and the DS’s stylus precision, but now the console version will be compatible with the Balance Board. Families will find themselves leaning back and forth to control snowboards and skiis, and even lie down with their chest on the board to navigate the twisting course of the skeleton event.
As with the original, the emphasis will be on multiplayer and both the Wii and DS versions will cater for up to four players in all events – a feature that is certain to be popular over the upcoming holiday season.
“Mario & Sonic At The Olympic Winter Games has moved on in terms of gameplay experience from the original in so many ways,” says Fawell. “The use of the Balance Board and more intuitive controls add a whole new depth of gameplay.
“More fun dream events have been added, new characters and mini-games have also been included. The multiplayer events have more co-operative and competitive play using both balance board and Wii Remote.
“A new mode on the Wii allows players to experience a Winter Olympic campaign from the opening ceremony until the close of the event.
“The DS has an all-new adventure mode that allows players not only a solus gaming experience by wi-fi play with up to four players from one game cartridge. Therefore we are confident the game offers a new Mario & Sonic experience for players.”
Mario & Sonic is Sega’s biggest release of the Christmas season, and given the success of the original, the firm is keen to let everyone know, with a mammoth marketing campaign:
Millions of pounds have been invested in a four-month TV campaign ads running alongside key programmes such as X Factor. 90-second ads will takeover
five kids’ channels on the game’s launch day.
Sega estimates that 93 per cent of housewives and 88 per cent of kids will see the advert 11 times each, while 80 per cent of 16 to 34 year-old adults will see the advert eight times each.
A five-month campaign will see 30-second ads running before family and children’s blockbusters. This will rack up eight million admissions over the duration of the campaign.
Over the course of six months, Sega has secured five front covers on various specialist and consumer publications, supported by three months of print advertising.
Mario & Sonic is already receiving positive reviews, with Official Nintendo Magazine awarding Gold awards and scores of over 90 per cent to both Wii and DS versions.
There will be ads running across key specialist and lifestyle sites for four weeks, incorporating dedicated interactive creatives and takeovers.
Sega has prepared its biggest retail marketing campaign to date. Spanning a whopping eight months, this will include in-store activites, set to run from launch through to February 2010. There will be a full range of premium POS available and pre-order incentives running across retail, which will be supported by competitions and online features in the months after launch. The company has also arranged in-store events across 40 retail outlets.