Ack. I’m aching all over this morning. Worse than a night after headbanging down my local metal club. I suspect Kevin (AAUK) of Sonic Wrecks feels slightly worse. At least my eye doesn’t smart anymore. All in the name of journalism, eh? But the pain was really all worth it.
The reason for all this madness? Yesterday SEGA held a press event for Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games. I attended on behalf of The Sonic Stadium – thanks to great shakes being made by Kevin’s new residency in the Online Marketing department, you can expect yours truly to be in the front line alongside fellow journalists, asking pertinent questions of Sonic Team designers such as “Where are the chequered hills?”.
Perhaps the term ‘front line’ was decidedly apt, because this was no ordinary press event. In an impressive coup, SEGA had all the attendees playing an exciting revival of classic British TV show ‘It’s A Knockout’!
For those who weren’t alive in the 1970’s (me), It’s A Knockout was a game show hosted by charming smooth-talker Stuart Hall, where teams had to dress up in ridiculous suits and play bizarre games to win medallions and champagne. Think of Pat Sharpe’s Fun House, only a bit more original and without busty blondes.
Today’s event had all the courses from the old show, and even had the legendary Hall compeering the games. After arriving at the David Beckham Academy in London (by the O2/Millennium Dome) and meeting up with Kevin, food was consumed and people roped into teams.
Most of the journalists (apart from me) were slotted into Team Mario while SEGA staff were bunched into Sonic Team (geddit?). A Nintendo community guy was supposed to join me in Team Tails (which, because there were no orange shirts, resulted in us wearing Mario shirts with yellow wigs) but because he couldn’t make it I forced Kevin to join my posse.
Although we were battling for great victory – ‘to the death’ according to Stuart Hall, bless him – it was all in good fun. We had two Page 3 girls on our team so our focus wasn’t really on winning and more on spectating and letting the models go ahead. Nice. After a quick warm up dance, we were onto the first round.
Which consisted of passing balls from one person to the next and collecting them at the end for points. The second event had one member from each team don a penguin costume and involved grabbing fish from the back of their opponent, then doing battle in a circular arena.
Things started to cook after the first round or two of Tug of War – in which both Team Mario and Team Tails nobbled Sonic Team in (yeah, I have the muscles!) – where we had to run an obstacle course with hard hats balancing balls on top. Then my favourite game took place, where teams had to wear a budgie costume and dive through a hole, run around a ring and leg it back to the starting line.
It is perhaps the most effort I’ve ever put into a press event, and rightly so – pride was on the line! But disaster struck! We lost Kevin spectacularly in the second to last game. Players had to dive head first under an obstacle, run through a tunnel, pick up a ball at the end, run back and dive feet first back through the obstacle to put the ball in the box at the start.
Kevin went first and apparently over-exerted himself – knackered his calfs and required the attention of a paramedic. We were all very concerned. So much so, we took photos of him, I was seen giving the thumbs up and Nuts TV wanted to interview him (to which he replied with many an expletive).
The show must go on though, with the final course being a triangular obstacle where one team member helped others climb over the top. It was here where I caught a foot to the eye – one of the Team Mario guys launched over the top of the course and a stray leg connected with my face.
It’s alright though, my eye got better, and I ran back just in time to see Sonic win in a tug of war against Mario – the two mascots were cheering everyone on the whole time by dancing to Eye of the Tiger. But in a strange counter, Team Mario won the game. At least we took solace in that our mascot was strongest in a tug of war… although seeing him and Mario hold hands was a bit of a jarring sight. UK Resistance won’t like that one bit.
As the Mario Team took their medals and champagne (they were It’s A Knockout medals and not Sonic ones so it was alright) we all went back to the main rooms to eat some more food and play the game we were here for in the first place. Kevin whupped me at the 100m race as Shadow while a free-falling Dream Event resulted in me winning gloriously.
As for the game itself, well. Turns out nobody really played the game an awful lot that day. The day was more about having fun (and getting as much mainstream press there as possible) and we certainly had that. Well, maybe not Kevin, who had to hobble back as if he had rickets. Hopefully he’ll be back up to spec next week, when TSS has an advance playtest of Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games. Be sure you don’t miss it.