Beijing’s Olympics In Your Hands: The Video Game

Next month, the Olympic Games take off in Beijing, China. NBC says it will cover the entire event, from opening festivities to the final competitions, even if you can only spot your favorite sport online. If you want to take a more active role in the games without chartering a flight halfway around the world, catch up with everyone’s favorite Italian plumber.

Sega and Nintendo’s “Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games ” brings the former foes together for competitions like gymnastics, swimming and shooting. The Wii version has 20 events, while the DS version has 16. Like the go-kart racing and fighting games featuring Mario, his friends are there too, like Yoshi and Bowser.

But what makes this game stand out is its accuracy to the 2008 Olympic Games being played by humans. Backgrounds for several events echo the actual buildings in Beijing. One is the Bird’s Nest, officially called the Beijing National Stadium, where track and field events will be held.

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Another is the Water Cube, which has another, more boring, name: the Beijing National Aquatics Centre, where swimming, diving and synchronized swimming events will take place.

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Though the game has been criticized as an expensive ad for the Olympics, it’s sold well, with Sega reporting sales of over 5 million games since its release in late December. A more traditional Olympics video game is expected later this summer. “Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games” is rated E (of course), since one of its main goals is to get younger people interested in the competition. (Buy here )

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