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Video Game / Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games

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A crossover sixteen years in the making.

"The mustachioed one led the mission to rescue the princess. The one in blue may wish to see the crown jewels. He's an avid ring collector. And he may suddenly curl into a ball. Perfectly normal."
Commercial for Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games

The 16-bit era of the early 1990s was one of the bitterest of the Console Wars, and the Super Mario Bros. and Sonic the Hedgehog series were two of the strongest weapons for the Fanboys. Thus when Sega left the hardware business, it was a huge shock that they also announced they were going third party, and thus their games would be on Nintendo systems in addition to the others.

A crossover was the next logical step. Then Sega got the license for the Olympic Games, Nintendo jumped in to get a piece of the tasty, tasty, athletic action, and that was where they decided the first crossover would be, so the casts of the respective series were slapped together to compete in various events.

The games in the series:

  • Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games (Beijing 2008) (DS and Wii)
    • Sonic at the Olympic Games (Java-based Mobile Phone Game; spinoff featuring only the Sonic cast)
  • Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games (Vancouver 2010) (DS and Wii)
    • Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games (iOS; second game in the series featuring only the Sonic cast, delisted from the App Store)
  • Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games (3DS and Wii)
  • Mario & Sonic at the Sochi 2014 Winter Games (Wii U)
  • Mario & Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games (Arcade, Wii U and 3DS)
  • Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 (Arcade and Nintendo Switch)
    • Sonic at the Olympic Games - Tokyo 2020 (iOS and Android; third game in the series featuring only the Sonic cast, a new story, several new events, and a $9.99 price tag for full game)

See also the Super Smash Bros. series, another crossover involving both Mario and Sonicnote ; and amiibo, Nintendo's toyline which Rio 2016 supports. Not to be confused with a side series of serious, down-to-earth Olympic video games also developed by Sega.


Provides Examples Of:

  • Ability Required to Proceed: In the Adventure mode for the DS version of Winter Games, there are many areas blocked off and inaccessible unless a certain character joins your party and uses their abilities to remove the obstruction.
  • Acrofatic: Wario and Dr. Eggman, the former being nothing new but the latter being something rarely ever seen in his home series.
  • Arc Symbol: In Sochi 2014, a diamond.
  • The Artifact: Blaze's status as an all-round character. Back in the first game, there was supposed to be an equal balance of Mario and Sonic characters for each type, hence Blaze being categorized as all-round instead of speed. But despite the second game introducing new characters that unbalanced the list, Blaze remains all-round.
  • Artifact of Doom: The Urn in London 2012 3DS is the cause of the Phantasmal Fog.
  • Artifact Title: Tokyo 2020 is this much like its real-life counterpart that was delayed a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Artistic License – Physics: Some of the dream events stretch the laws of physics, such as the Dream Long Jump in the DS version of the first game.
  • Ascended Meme: This whole series qualifies as one. Before this sub-franchise was even conceived to be a thing, there have been hundreds if not thousands of Super Mario Bros./Sonic The Hedgehog crossover fan works flooding around the internet in the 2000's, with either the two universes teaming up or duking it out with each other. And that's not even mentioning the infamous Console Wars from The '90s.
  • Big Bad Duumvirate: In the story modes of the handheld titles, it's the two residential villains, Dr. Eggman and Bowser teaming up to wreak havoc For the Evulz.
  • The Cameo: Various characters appear as Mii costumes. Special note goes to the Koopalings in the London 2012 iteration.
  • Character Customization: The Mii's stats can be altered with different costumes starting from the second game.
  • Chromatic Arrangement: Team Heroes in the handheld titles. Mario is Red, Luigi is Green, Sonic is Blue, and finally Tails is Yellow.
  • Continuity Nod:
  • Cool Horse: You get to ride 'em in the London 2012 and Rio 2016 installments. You also get to make awesome Horse Jumps in the Dream Equestrian event in London 2012.
  • Costume Evolution: In Tokyo 2020, Mario, Sonic, and their male buddies start donning sportswear like their female buddies. A good example would be Sonic now wearing a cyan tank top and his red sneakers from Sonic Riders.
  • Crossover: A no-brainer crossover, but not one anyone expected.
  • Dance Party Ending: Rio 2016, naturally what with Carnivale.
  • Darker and Edgier: Done tongue-in-cheek with the Rio 2016 game art. Prior M&S games usually have the main characters smiling and enjoying themselves while partaking in Olympic events. In Rio 2016, all the characters have a new sense of competitive intensity, looking angry, and the titular mascots, looking like best friends on the box arts in games prior, are now butting heads, as if they remember the old console wars. The happy-go-lucky world of M&S Olympics has definitely gone hardcore this time around.
    • The "Road to Rio" story mode from the 3DS version is definitely a bit darker. The plot involves the heroes' medals being stolen from the Hall of Medals and rumors spreading around about both mascot's gyms fighting, with the locals showing confusion with how the two gyms are suddenly not getting along (and some of the rumors and the accusations that come from them are pretty nasty). Though, only the fanboys in costumes seem to be the ones really fighting ... but it turns out they're being brainwashed to do the dirty work for Bowser and Dr. Eggman.
    • Also, the two most recent installments of the series were given an Everyone 10+ by the ESRB, up from the typical Everyone rating from prior games, due to more realistic depictions of martial arts competitions among the characters.
  • A Day in the Limelight: In Tokyo 2020, due to the usual heroes and villains being trapped in the video game, Luigi, Tails, Bowser Jr. and Eggman Nega become the main movers of the plot back in reality.
  • Defeat Means Playable: Played with. While you can play as any character in single events, the trope takes effect in the Adventure Mode for the DS version of Winter Games, in which you can only acquire new characters for your party by first defeating them in a particular mission.
  • Developers' Foresight: The devs remembered that Sonic can't swim; in water events he's the only one who wears a life jacket, stands up and falls into the water instead of properly diving, and just splashes his arms and moves himself forward instead of actually swimming.
  • Disconnected Side Area: Some maps in the Adventure mode of the DS version of Winter Games have some portion that can only be accessed from another region.
  • Discontinuity Nod:
  • Divide and Conquer: Bowser and Dr. Eggman's master plan in Rio 2016's Road To Rio mode. To use the suit fanboys to lure their archfoes away with tricks and crimes, and manipulate the other characters to turn both teams against each other, so they can take over the Olympics unopposed.
  • Do Not Try This at Home: The manual of the DS version of Beijing 2008 explicitly warns players not to imitate the fencing minigames in reality.
  • Door to Before: The Adventure mode of the DS version of the first Winter Games has drawbridges that prevent you from crossing them in one particular direction until they're crossed in the other direction. Once you find a way to cross them, the drawbridge permanently closes, allowing you to cross it in either direction for easier traversal to earlier or later areas.
  • Do Well, But Not Perfect: One of Vector's missions in the DS version of Beijing 2008 is landing 2nd Place in 100m Freestyle Swimming under 50 seconds. That is ''2nd'' Place; landing in 1st Place would fail the mission. Although this may be a way of compensating the fact that Vector has the most difficult swimming style in that game, this does appear counterproductive.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: The first entry in the series has several features not consistent with the later games:
    • Several things from the other entries aren't present in the first game:
      • Donkey Kong, Silver, Bowser Jr., and Metal Sonic as playable characters.
      • Runblebee as the announcer.
      • The Dream Events taking place in Mario & Sonic locales.
    • In the first game, the girls wear their standard athletic outfits for swimming and gymnastics. They would not be given swimsuits/leotards until the London installment.
    • There was no acceleration stat in the first game, and stats for Technique and Power characters were different: Technique characters were actually the second fastest while Power characters were the slowest. From Winter onwards, Technique characters were made the slowest instead while Power characters were the second fastest but hampered by middling acceleration.
  • Emotion Eater: The Excitement Battery in Tokyo 2020 is charged by the excitement and happiness of others. Once fully charged, it will stay fully charged.
  • Enemy Mine: In Tokyo 2020 Mario & Sonic very briefly team up with Bowser & Eggman so they can escape the Tokyo 64 game they are trapped in.
  • Failed Future Forecast: Tokyo 2020 is set in the summer of 2020 when the Olympics are happening, when in real life, months after the game was released, the Tokyo 2020 Olympics was postponed to 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This has led to jokes among fans about the game being set in an ideal Alternate History where there's no pandemic. Ultimately averted as the Games will still keep the '2020' name.
  • Flunky Boss: Dry Bowser.
  • For the Evulz: Go-Karting with Bowser has been done countless times, so to spice things up, the gaming mascots respective archfoes, Bowser and Doctor Eggman join forces in their own evil schemes to cause some measure of trouble for everyone else. Either conquering the Olympics for themselves, Unleashing a deadly fog on the populace, or pitting the characters against each other to keep them distracted.
  • Game Within a Game: One in Tokyo 2020 based on the Tokyo 1964 Olympics is what kickstarts the plot.
  • The Ghost: Magikoopa is mentioned several times in Tokyo 2020's story mode as helping create the various plot devices. No Magikoopas appear in the game.
  • Go-Karting with Bowser: And Dr. Eggman. And later Bowser Jr. and Metal Sonic, and eventually, Zavok, Zazz, Eggman Nega, and four of the seven Koopalings.
  • Golden Super Mode: Using a Mario or Sonic amiibo in Rio 2016 lets you wear a Gold Mario or Super Sonic Suit that are Purposefully Overpowered.
  • Gravity Is a Harsh Mistress: In the Adventure Mode of the DS version of Winter Games, Knuckles comes across a rusty lever on a platform in Cubyrinth he stands on and pulls it, causing the platform to drop from beneath his feet. For a while, he and the player character hang in mid-air, before plummeting into a Disconnected Side Area back in Polastraits.
  • Guest Fighter: Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020 feature a number of guest characters that all only appear in a single event, such as Zavok being exclusive to Boxing in both games.
  • Half-Dressed Cartoon Animal: In Tokyo 2020, the Sonic guys wear tops appropriate to their event, and still go pantless.
  • Heel–Face Revolving Door: The bosses start off friendly before the fight, and then they go back, with the exceptions of Eggman Nega and Dry Bowser, who simply vanish.
  • I Know Madden Kombat: In Tokyo 2020's story mode, Luigi defeats Metal Sonic by weaponizing rugby, up to and including kicking a bomb at him as he floats between the "uprights" of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building.
  • Insurmountable Waist-High Fence: The Adventure mode of the DS version of Winter Games has lots of these, whether they may be low ledges you can't drop onto without a slope, higher ledges you can't jump or climb onto, crates you can't vault over, et cetera.
  • Intergenerational Friendship: Characters are paired off into pairs of cross-canon Friendly Rivals, Mario and Sonic, Luigi and Tails, Peach and Amy and so forth. With a few exceptions, the Sonic cast is made up mostly of teenagers, while the Mario cast are all mostly in their twenties.
  • It's Always Mardi Gras in New Orleans: Rio 2016 has the Rio Carnival taking place during the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in August. Note that in real life, the Carnival takes place in February.
  • It Will Never Catch On: Sega hoped both versions of the first game would sell 4 million copies combined. They got laughed at by the gaming press and on Message Boards. To date, both versions of the first game have sold more than that each. In fact, the Wii version is currently the highest selling Sonic game of all time (second best if you count Super Smash Bros.. Brawl), and the second game is also a hit, with the Wii version selling just over 4 million, and the DS version selling over 3 million, as of early September 2011.
  • It Was with You All Along: Throughout the entirety of the London 2012 Adventure Mode, neither Bowser or Eggman realise that the "love letters" two Toads dropped earlier with Peach and Amy's handwriting on the envelope that they picked up and kept in spite were actually their invitations to the event. Had they bothered to open them, they wouldn't have started a Revenge Plot for not receiving their invitations.
  • Karma Houdini: The Miis in Mario and Sonic costumes who have been pinning evil deeds on Mario and Sonic, sabotaging training, willingly helping with Bowser and Eggman's schemes, and just generally having poor sportsmanship simply vanish on the Seventh day of "Road to Rio". Subverted once you learn they are actually being brainwashed.
  • Later Installment Weirdness: Rio 2016 Wii U changes quite a bit from the previous console games:
    • Everything is now accessed through a Hub Plaza.
    • The Dream Events set in Mario & Sonic locations are now replaced by Duel Events set in locations around Rio.
    • Rival Characters are now Guest Characters which you can play as in their corresponding Event after beating them.
  • Leitmotif: The rival characters are given their own special theme songs when you face them in events.
  • Leotard of Power: Peach, Daisy, and Rosalina each get one for the gymnastics events, starting with London 2012. This is Truth in Television for gymnastics (although interestingly, the character models reuse the same costume for the aquatic events as well.)
  • Licensed Game: The Olympics part.
  • Limited Animation: the 2D events in Tokyo 2020 deliberately reuse character sprites from Super Mario Bros. for the Mario cast and the classic Sonic trilogy for the Sonic cast (each taking their sprites from one game each) with no custom frames created specifically for the game. The result is the Mario characters (and Eggman) being relatively limited in the range of animations they can perform. Bowser and Peach get hit with this the worst, as the former only has four sprites to use and Peach uses only a single frame of animations (with none of her extra Super Mario Bros. Deluxe sprites making the cut).
  • Limited Wardrobe: As with other Mario sports titles. Finally averted in Tokyo 2020, where most characters will wear sports-appropriate attire for each event (except for characters like Donkey Kong and Yoshi, who wear nothing anyway, while the male Sonic characters go the pantsless route).
  • Long Title: "Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games" doesn't exactly roll off the tongue, and that is only the first game. The title just gets longer with the sequels.
  • Mercy Mode: In Tokyo 2020, if you fail a mission 3 times, you can skip it. However, you'll still need to earn that green checkmark.
  • Mighty Glacier: Power characters have incredibly high power along with decent speed and stamina, but poor acceleration and skill.
  • Missing Secret: In Tokyo 2020's Story Mode, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building has the entrance to the observatory platform, which is blocked off by Metal Sonic and his Egg Pawns. After you get rid of Metal Sonic, the entrance is now clear, but if you attempt to enter it, Tails will tell you that saving Mario and Sonic is more important. After saving them and completing the Story, when you head back to the Government Building, Metal Sonic and his Egg Pawns are back. Even after winning the minigame, Metal Sonic still remains there, so the observatory platform is truly inaccessible.
  • Mythology Gag: Mario and Bowser's team win animation ends with them assuming the same pose they have in the "Mario and Bowser" puzzle from StreetPass Mii Plaza (which itself is based on their artwork from Dance Dance Revolution Mario Mix).
  • "Not So Different" Remark: In London 3DS, Eggman calls out an angry Wario and Waluigi on their greed, calling them no different than what he is, in fact, maybe even worse. Of course, the pair are having none of it.
  • Ominous Fog: The Phantasmal Fog in London 2012 3DS. It can create evil duplicates of characters, create illusions and even choke people.
  • One Game for the Price of Two: Subverted: The 3DS version of Rio has a story mode titled Road to Rio which has two storylines (thankfully on one cartridge) which are accessed based on which gym you signed up for in the beginning, which can be changed by starting a new story game. The stories are:
    • Joining Mario's gym has a subplot of several ghost sightings.
    • Joining Sonic's gym has a subplot of a sudden explosive rivalry between both gyms as well as mysterious robberies which led to all the medals go missing.
  • Original Generation: The Snow Spirits from the second game's DS version.
  • Pretty in Mink: During the winter games, Peach, Daisy, and Amy wear mini dresses trimmed with white fur (although not every version applies fur shading to their outfits) that are like costumes for the figure skating events.
  • Promoted to Playable:
    • Dry Bones, Dry Bowser, Eggman Nega, E-123 Omega, Rouge and Jet, who were originally rivals in the Vancouver Winter Games onwards, and Birdo, who was a VIP in Vancouver and a rival in London and Sochi, become playable in the Rio 2016 Games.
    • After spending the previous two games as a suit for Miis, Diddy Kong makes his debut playable appearance in the series in Rio.
    • Rio also marks the first case of Zavok and Zazz being playable.
  • Public Domain Soundtrack: During figure skating, synchronized swimming and rhythmic ribbon gymnastics events, though later games add the option to use remixes of music from Mario and Sonic titles instead.
  • Real Men Wear Pink: Male characters are fully playable in feminine-centric events, such as synchronized swimming and ribbon twirling. They do not, however, get event-specific outfits like the girls do.
  • Reformulated Game: The console and handheld versions of each game differ in different ways:
    • Most of Beijing 2008 stayed the same between Wii and DS but some events got replaced:
      • 4X100M Freestyle got replaced with 10M Platform.
      • Rowing got replaced with Cycling.
      • The selection of Dream Events were different (The Wii had Dream Platform as it's one exclusive Dream, while the DS had five exclusive Dream Events which where Dream Basketball, Boxing, Shooting, Long Jump, and Canoe. Dream Race, Table Tennis and Fencing were shared between both versions).
    • Vancouver 2010 on the Wii had the Festival Tour mode which let you play across the course of entire three weeks of the Winter Olympics while the DS Version had the Adventure Tour, a full length story in which Bowser and Eggman tried cancelling the Winter Olympics by capturing the Snow Spirits and it was up to Mario and Sonic to save the day.
    • London 2012 had one the most drastic reformulations between console and handheld. On the Wii, it was the standard affair of continuing the formula of the first two games but on 3DS each event only had four playable characters split into the following categories:
      • The Heroes (Mario, Sonic, Luigi & Tails)
      • The Girls (Peach, Amy, Daisy & Blaze)
      • The Wild Ones (Bowser, Knuckles, Donkey Kong & Vector)
      • The Tricksters (Wario, Dr Eggman, Waluigi & Metal Sonic)
      • The Challengers (Yoshi, Shadow, Bowser Jr & Sliver)
      • Each group was only playable in about 11 or 12 events each. Other differences between versions include the London Party Mode featured in the Wii version being replaced by a Story Mode in the 3DS version.
    • Rio 2016 on the 3DS continued the formula of London 2012 3DS by how certain characters are locked to certain events, but instead of being split into categories each character is only playable in two events while Mario and Sonic themselves are playable in all events but on the Wii U all the staple characters can be played in any Event as you wish. Other differences include the 3DS version having a RPG-like mode called Road To Rio where your Mii competes in Olympic Challenges by Mario or Sonic Characters (depending on whose gym you choose) while in the Wii U version your Mii competes in Tournaments to earn Medals and there's also a Mode called Heroes Showdown in which the Mario and Sonic characters compete against each in serious competition.
  • Retraux: Tokyo 2020 has a mode called "2D Events", where you can play as either Mario, Luigi, Peach, Bowser, Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, or Eggman in Olympic events with retro graphics. The Mario characters appear as their 8-bit sprites from the original Super Mario Bros., while the Sonic characters appear as their 16-bit sprites from the Sega Genesis gamesnote . The story mode also centers around these 2D Events, seeing the characters travel back in time to the Tokyo 1964 Olympic Games.
  • Right Behind Me: In Tokyo 2020, Bowser and Eggman are really bad at discussing villainous plans without one of the protagonists overhearing them.
  • Rivals Team Up: One of the biggest ones ever, only supplanted by Super Smash Bros. Brawl's release.
  • Samba: Rio 2016 features a soundtrack primarily featuring samba music, as it takes place in Rio de Janeiro.
  • Ship Tease:
    • If Mario & Peach, Sonic & Amy, or Silver & Blaze win an event together, they will have an exclusive animation.
    • In Sochi 2014, Figure Skating Pairs was added. The event ends with the pair (always a man and a woman) making a pose together. However, using the same couples above, as well as Luigi & Daisy, will result in unique poses.
  • Shirtless Scene: In Tokyo 2020, the male human characters now wear swim trunks and nothing else in the Swimming event.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Luigi's boost in Vancouver 2010 is essentially the Green Missile from the Super Smash Bros. series.
    • Two Mii outfits in London 2012 resemble both Amigo's and Link's outfits.
  • Shown Their Work:
    • Shy Guy's quizzes in London Party will really dig deep in Mario and Sonic trivia, even into the most obscure places. Including the Sonic hedgehog gene.
    • Sonic, who has an infamous weakness in water, always has a life jacket on in swimming events.
    • It also falls under Furry Reminder, but Vector swims exactly like a real crocodile.
    • Rosalina normally wears purple nail polish, but in Rio 2016 her nails are unpainted (best seen in her official render.) Real Life gymnasts are, in fact, discouraged from painting their nails, so as not to potentially distract the judges.
  • Sit on the Camera: With Wario's Special Punch attack in the Dream Boxing Event.
  • Smart Ball: At one point in the 3DS story mode of London 2012, Omega, a highly-complex robot, is repaired by none other than Donkey Kong of all characters.
  • Spiritual Successor: The Dream Racing event in Tokyo 2020 is believed to be one to the Sonic Riders series, with hoverboard racing and a futuristic tone.
  • Start My Own: In the DS version of the Vancouver Winter Olympics game, Bowser and Eggman steal all of Vancouver's snow so they can start their own Olympic Games somehow.
  • Story-Breaker Team-Up: The weirdness in seeing characters from both series kicks in knowing that guys like Sonic and Shadow can run faster than the speed of sound or Donkey Kong and Bowser being strong enough to move small planets, yet don't use those traits to the fullest for the sake of competition.
  • Trapped in TV Land: The plot in Tokyo 2020 is centered around a strange Tokyo 1964 video game system developed by Dr. Eggman for the purpose of capturing the plumber and hedgehog. It actually works, but it also captures himself, Bowser and Toad within the game universe.
  • Two Girls to a Team: Both sides only have two girls each: Team Mario has Peach and Daisy while Team Sonic has Amy and Blaze. Later games also have "guest" characters like Rosalina, Toadette, Rouge and Sticks, but they are only playable in specific events and aren't full team members.
  • True Companions: In Sochi 2014, characters who are friends, such as Mario and Luigi, have a unique victory animation if they're on the same team. This is also inverted if enemies, like Sonic and Dr. Eggman, are working together. There is also a unique animation for certain crossover pairs, such as Mario and Sonic, Peach and Amy, Donkey Kong and Vector, and Bowser and Eggman.
  • Unexpectedly Realistic Gameplay: In Tokyo 2020. Turns out, keeping a handheld game console on all day drains the battery, just as it would in the real world.
  • Villainous Friendship: Dr. Eggman and Bowser becomes great friends when they meet each other, and notable in that neither party ever tries to plot against the other. Considering Bowser's bad blood with other villains in the main series, and Eggman being usually usurped as the main threat. As it turns out, they have a lot in common with each other, and also share a mutual hatred for the mascot heroes.
  • Villain Team-Up: Bowser and Dr. Eggman do it on three different occasions in the Vancouver 2010 DS game, the London 2012 3DS game, and the Rio 2016 3DS game. Their Dragons, Bowser Jr. and Metal Sonic, do this too in Vancouver 2010. Tokyo 2020 has Bowser Jr. working with Eggman Nega due to the usual villainous duo being trapped in the game.
  • Wacky Racing: A few of the Dream events behave like this.
  • Weird Crossover: Variation: the universes of Mario and Sonic mixing are is not unusual in itself (it happening is basically the video game-equivalent of JLA/Avengers ). However, the setting (a sporting competition, not a platforming game, the native gameplay style of both characters) vaults it well and truly into this territory.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?:
    • The rivals disappear without explanation on the Wii. The DS version has most of them become friendly NPCs.
    • The Mii fanboys will disappear on the seventh day of Road to Rio. Unless the player foils Bowser and Eggman's plan.
  • Your Size May Vary: Sonic's official height is 3'3", yet in these games, he's roughly the same height, if not slightly taller than Mario, who is 5'1". With introductions of taller characters from the Sonic series like Zavok and Zazz, this becomes even more egregious. Zavok's official height is 5'1", the same as Mario, but he's depicted to be as big as Bowser in height.