Reviews// Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games

The atmosphere has been improved...

Posted 30 Oct 2009 17:20 by
Two years ago, two once-bitter rival companies announced that they would truly call truce on the bloody console war of the 1990s and have their respective mascots feature in a game together for the first time ever. There was chaos, utter shock, and nobody even thought of the children! The result was Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games, which featured SEGA and Nintendo characters being all pally-pally and taking part in the 2008 Beijing Games.

Although not quite the mashup fans were apparently hoping for (but let's face it, if Mario and Sonic featured in a canon platform game together, that truly would be blasphemous), the Olympic Games was a solid party title, inviting families to get together and get sporty in front of their Wii. Make no mistake, this was SEGA's Wii Fit in terms of scale, importance and revenue the game briskly outsold Nintendo's own Super Mario Galaxy and continued to rank high in the sales charts for months, even years, after initial release.

Until now, because Canada is hosting next year's Olympic Winter Games, and you could have bet your left cheek that Mario and Sonic would be doing the rounds again. This time, there are more characters, new events (naturally; unless you like pole-vaulting in the snow), a dedicated Festival mode and party games galore.

So let's get stuck in and talk about the meat of Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games the events. You can try your hand at any of the standard Olympic events at your leisure with the Singles Match mode, and this acts as your 'jump-in and play' party mode. Up to four players can compete as you each choose one event after another.

Different events require different control methods to play. Skiing is pretty fun, and has you holding the Wii Remote and Nunchuk in front of you and tilting them left to right to slalom through the gates. Snowboarding only needs the Wii Remote but controls essentially the same as skiing, while games like Ice Hockey require the use of the control stick on the Nunchuk for movement, and swinging the Wii Remote down to shoot.

Having played all of the events available, I can safely say that none of them were particularly difficult to get into, and it's clear that SEGA has spent time in making sure the motion detection was accurate. Variations on specific events include jumps, which require you to swing the Wii Remote upwards to perform and allow you to move the Remote from side to side to do tricks in the air. Although sometimes, like on the Ski Jump, the game didn't seem to register a leap at all, so it's recommended to give it a good hard tug just in case.

Atmosphere in Olympic Winter Games has been improved in 2008's Mario and Sonic, it felt like the mascots were out of place in Beijing. In Vancouver, the stadium is filled with animated Toad characters, Flicky birds and Chao from the Sonic series and various other side characters. Sure, the audience is as flat as a card, but if that's what was necessary, I certainly don't mind.

As with the Summer Games, there are Dream Events here that put inventive Sonic and Mario-themed twists on traditional Olympic events. Last time though, the Dream Events were quite dull and uninspired. Sonic and Mario fans will be well looked after in this edition, where you can Snowboard down the Radical Highway level from Sonic Adventure 2, or do some Ski Jumping through the Good Egg Galaxy. The Dream Events need to be unlocked to play in Singles Matches, and this can be done through the Festival mode and Party games.
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