How Mario and Sonic get outfitted for the Olympics

By Steve Watts, Dec 19, 2011 4:00pm PST

The London 2012 Olympic games are coming, which means another Mario & Sonic at the Olympics joint-effort from Nintendo and Sega. The team shared their thoughts on the franchise with Nintendo president Satoru Iwata, including Sonic's poor swimming ability, customized bikes, and how to deal with ladies in swimwear. Yes, seriously.

Sega chief producer Osamu Ohashi said the most difficult character to develop was Sonic, because hedgehogs aren't water-faring animals. "He isn't supposed to swim," Ohashi said in Iwata Asks. "And aquatics is one of the star attractions at the Olympic Games, so we were stuck." He says he went back and forth with the Sonic supervisor insisting that he should swim. The team considered putting him on a kickboard, but they settled on a life jacket. "That's why when Sonic swims, he doesn't put his face in the water and his upper body is positioned like it's floating."

Other character considerations had to be given as well. Bowser does a belly-roll in the high jump, because otherwise his spikes would hit the bar. Special bikes had to be made for several characters so they could pedal with their stubby legs. The newly added equestrian events feature bulky-looking horses for heavy characters like Bowser and Donkey Kong, lest players fear the poor animal will have its back broken.

The best consideration of all, though, had to be how carefully the team considered bathing suits. Director Eigo Kasahara said they "definitely" considered Princess Peach's swimwear. "We also came up with designs for Peach and Daisy when they swim in the first game and presented them to Nintendo, but unfortunately they got rejected," he said. They say fans felt it was strange that some characters weren't wearing swimwear, so this time around they decided to put the characters in proper bathing suits. "But then at Sega they told me, 'Sonic can't take off his shoes!'" Kasahara said.

Ohashi suggests, "These characters just aren't naturally suited to sports."

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