The plumber and hedgehog are back together, and this time they are having fun in the snow. Together. With some friends. Theres nothing wrong with that, is there?
The last time that these two icons of gaming teamed up to compete in a sporting fashion, was in Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games. The game was a huge success, selling by the millions. This time, Sega are sending our heroes to the Olympic Winter Games, in a hope to repeat the success of the first game.
Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games is published by Sega and available on the Wii. The game contains more than twenty winter themed events for the player to compete in, either against the AI or up to three other players. Accessibility is paramount this time around, with Sega making sure that all methods of control can be employed. Play the games with either the wiimote alone, combined with the nunchuk or even use the balance board for some of the games. The only thing missing is support for the wii motion plus, but that could actually be seen as a good thing. Not everyone has the motion plus and Sega’s aim is to allow everyone to play this game. But does the game suffer from the lack of precision?
The developers have tweaked the controls this time around, making the game far simpler to control than the previous title. Smaller gestures are required, which has to be a good thing. Although the flip side of this coin is that the game feels less involved. This is perhaps not a bad thing, as the game can be played quite easily by any member of the family (with the exception of the dog). But seasoned players may find that the lack of freedom lessens their experience.
With more than twenty events to play, there is something for everyone in this game. All of the basic events are unlocked at the start of the game, allowing the player to enjoy their favorite events straight out of the box. Should you be excited by the prospect of skiing, snowboarding, speed skating or bobsleigh, all of the major events are covered here. Skiing and snowboarding are simple to control with basic tilting of the wiimote and tricks can be pulled with a waggle. Bobsleigh follows the same formula, with the player encouraged to hold the wiimote against their chest and lean into the corners. Speed skating is more about the rhythm, swinging the wiimote in time with the character.
If you fancy a slightly slower paced game, consider curling. Think of it as bowling on ice and you will have a good idea of what to expect. Surprisingly, the curling was actually a lot of fun, the controls were easy and the game offered a challenge. For team based frozen fun, players should hit the rink for a bout of ice hockey. Don’t be expecting a NHL quality experience here, but an arcade styled fun version of ice hockey with your favorite iconic gaming characters.
Once the player has practiced at the games, its time to take on the Festival mode. This gives the player a calender to work through. Each day the player will have to compete in events or participate in practice sessions. Occasionally the player will come across boss battles, where they will be challenged by a character in a particular event. Some of these boss battles can be particularly difficult, but must be completed to progress.
Festival mode offers a huge number of unlockables. As you complete events, you earn money, which can then be spent in the stores on a plethora of collectibles. Buy music tracks, paint jobs and decals for your equipment and even purchase clothing for your mii’s. But most importantly, the wonderful dream events can be unlocked. Dream events take an event from the game and places it in a classic Nintendo/Sega setting. Dream Alpine, for example, gives the player the chance to ski through a snow covered Green Hill Zone, or Dream Ski Jumping which involves hurtling through the skies of Mario Galaxy.
As with all party games, Mario & Sonic at the the Olympic Winter Games is best enjoyed with friends. This is not to say that the AI is incapable, but this game is all about fun, and there is more fun to be had with friends than without. The character animations are great and the game is bright and colourful.
There are many party games available on the Wii, but Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games comes near the top of the pile. With its accessibility, collection of mini games and playable characters, bright colourful graphics and loads of unlockables, the Olympic Winter Games will be a firm favorite for families everywhere.