Sonic and Mario risk red noses for some winter sporting mini-game action.
It was not that long ago that the idea of Sega’s superstar Hedgehog and Nintendo’s plumbing aficionado appearing in the same game would have been laughable. They were rivals and Nintendo or Sega fanboys could only dream of pitting the two gaming icons against each other in some form of contest. But all of that changed when Sega left the console business and, eventually, the two characters, along with a collection of their co-stars, started indulging in some Olympic themed competition.
And now we are here, facing the stars of Nintendo and Sega against each other, all in the name of the 2014 Sochi Olympic Winter Games. We have been here before, the Olympic Winter Games have been covered by the Hedgehog/Plumber team in the past. But this is the first time that the Winter Olympic themed collection of mini-games has made an appearance on the new Wii U console, not that I am sure you would notice…
It is not like the Wii U is short of mini-game collections. Nintendo’s ongoing battle to get families playing games together has resulted in more than a few quick-hit, family-friendly titles that are quite capable of causing family conflict. However, winter sports are very popular amongst both gamers and the more casual gaming family members, so the release of a game tied to the upcoming Sochi winter games makes sense, and who better than Mario and Sonic to present it?
Of course, this is not the first winter outing for the two stars and their friends, and players of the previous Winter Olympics games will find themselves on familiar ground. In many ways it is understandable that the variety of sports in this Winter Olympic title are the similar to the previous title. But many of the games use very similar control methods as the previous Wii game, and make very little use of the new tech that Nintendo offer with the GamePad. And I’ll be honest, having to keep swapping around controllers, from GamePad to WiiMote, or passing the controller around pretty much breaks any kind of party atmosphere that the players were perhaps aiming for. It just feels like too much trouble.
Anyway, there are some 24 mini-games included in Mario & Sonic At The Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games, so if you can get past the “controller shuffle” there is plenty to do. Obviously, with so many different events, some will shine more than others.
Highlights amongst the sport collection include Bobsleigh events that give an incredible sense of speed, and a rather engaging figure skating event. The events are as you would expect, a collection of ski-based, snowboard-based, skate-based, the single and multi-person bobsleigh, Curling and Ice Hockey. Each event will start with a tutorial explaining how to play, and which of the different controller configurations will be needed by each of the players. The tutorials are obviously essential, but they do tend to drag on a bit, further causing a break in the action for the players.
As is customary, the game also includes a collection of Dream Events, events that take a simple sport and twist it into a more outlandish, usually more exciting experience for the players. These events include such weirdness as riding a Curling stone in a mini-golf style event and a Bobsleigh roller coaster, and such fun as snowball fights or sledge racing, with the sledges being pulled by Bullet Bill. The events add a little bit of silliness that is sure to enhance the party.
Beyond playing each of the sports one at a time, there are a number of modes designed to bunch the action together for the players. Legends Showdown is the main mode, complete with boss battles and even a story of sorts. Medley Mania combines events within a theme, and Action & Answer Tour combines the mini-games with a quiz for good family fun. Perhaps the most exciting is the Worldwide Vs mode in which players can compete in certain events against others around the world and improve the ranking of their chosen country.
Visually, there really is no criticizing Mario & Sonic at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games. Making the move to the Wii U has resulted in crisp, clear HD visuals that bring with them a level of polish that you would expect from a game featuring Mario. It really does look good, and the visuals are a highlight of this otherwise mediocre title.
Mini-game collections will always be popular for family gaming sessions, and Mario & Sonic at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games, with its gorgeous looks and good collection of different games is sure to be a hit amongst families that game together. However, the events themselves are mostly unremarkable, and the messing around with different controllers are likely to break any party vibe. It fails to show off the best of the Wii U in anything other than visuals and is frankly disappointing.