Did they flip a coin when they decided whose name was slapped onto the title first? You could argue that their decision was based on alphabetical order, but that's too easy. My wager is that Sonic lost it all in a toss-up. Wouldn't be surprising, since his game-related luck has been hitting the lows as of late, though Sonic and the Secret Rings is a noteworthy exception. It just so happens that his next appearance in Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games will also be on the Wii, and may be equally redeeming.
Historically, countries all around the world have participated in the ultimate form of athletic goodwill known as the Olympics, and developers have canned that experience into piss-poor, waste-of-space games. SEGA and Nintendo have partnered together to pit Mario against Sonic in this upcoming, officially licensed Beijing Olympics title, which might break that dismal trend. For the most part, the developers haven't been specified, but rumor has it that TOSE will be lending a hand.
If you aren't familiar with TOSE Ltd., they've worked on countless games, and without credit. Recently, Dragon Quest Heroes: Rocket Slime and Super Princess Peach benefited from their programming prowess. They do have a history with both SEGA and Nintendo, and if you look further back, you'll see that they've worked on sports titles before, too (Bases Loaded among them). This bodes well for the Wii version of the game, if they're working on it -- the world may never know.
One thing we're already aware of is that Mario & Sonic will contain as many sports as possible, including those forsaken by most Olympics-based console titles. Everyone's rooting for the blue blur to make an appearance in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, but he and Mario may get to throw down in judo instead – literally. Grapples and throws are what judo's famous for, and we already know that the Brooklynite and Hedgehog are masters of tossing Koopa shells and Chao, respectively. They're good at running and jumping, too, which shouldn't mean jack when it comes to archery. Mario's FLUDD experience might give him the edge there.
As for Sonic, he and all of the other competitors will be held to stat-related limitations. Purist followers of the 'hog and plumber may be annoyed that their favorite fellows won't be spin-dashing through walls or butt-stomping hurdles, but this is an officially licensed game, and they'll have to play the way we humans do. (That's how it's looking so far, but neither SEGA nor Nintendo have released much gameplay footage, so that could change. Since SEGA will be releasing a more serious Olympic-themed game in 2008, we could see some Strikers-style silliness, and ideally, we will.) Hopefully, the fans will enjoy the large roster of participating players and accept that fan service as compensation.
Even though the game's title isn't Mario, Sonic, and Friends at the Olympic Games, many familiar faces will be there, such as Princess Peach, Tails, and others. Their past gaming endeavors may pad their player stats (if the developers do their research), but not the in-game controls. Unlike Secret Rings, playing the competitive sports in M&SatOG might remind you more of Rayman Raving Rabbids or the more involved events in WarioWare: Smooth Moves. If the simple yet elegant refinement of Wii Sports is tossed into the mix, everyone who gives Mario & Sonic a go may never pop that free Wii pack-in into their systems again.
Late in the month of November, we'll find out if that's the case – and who really deserves top billing in the title after all.