|System: Wii, DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: SEGA||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: SEGA||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Oct. 13, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-4||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
Graphics are fun and accessible utilizing many of the design staples of Mario and Sonic games. When dealing with such familiar characters, the only question is how the graphics hold up for the games and events. It's all good and does as much as can be done on the DS. Sound effects are similarly strong, from the rushing sounds of the bobsled over ice to the oh-so familiar pipe warp. Music is strong for the most part, although I found the need to mute it on a couple occasions when the overly happy and chipper beats became too much to take. Voiceovers are limited, as they are on all DS games, but make the most of it with the charming voices of the selectable characters used in selection, winning, and losing screens. Being a big Luigi fan myself, I felt somewhat bad at the laughs I got from Luigi's forlorn exhortations of defeat.
As if there weren't enough game mode variants to keep you occupied, there are also a slew of ways in which to enjoy them. Beyond the aforementioned Adventure Mode, there is single play which allows you to jump right in and compete, either one game at a time or in a series of events. Ghost mode allows you to race against your own best times with a shadow standing in to mimic your previous run. All games are playable in multiplayer along with a few extra modes designed specifically with groups in mind. There's a bingo multiplayer game in which you compete for, well, bingo against up to three other friends or CPU-controlled characters. When balls are drawn, occasionally there is an event ball that has all players compete against each other for the right to cover the corresponding space on their bingo sheet. Similar principles are in place for card and slot-based games as well. These modes offer a wide variety of ways to engage your Winter Olympics experience and enough tweaks to keep things interesting. Perhaps best of all, if only one of your friends has a copy of the game, other DS owners can connect wirelessly and download events to still get in on the action. I absolutely loved the convenience of the Download Play feature in Phantom Hourglass and I love it here.
Mario & Sonic at the Winter Olympic Games is a fun, enjoyable, and approachable experience that improves upon last year's Summer Games outing. The variety of both game types and style make for a highly enjoyable experience. Just don't be fooled; this isn't a hardcore game of any sort - it's essentially a collection of Mario-fied mini-games themed around the Winter Olympics. But with its brimming supporting cast pulled from both Mario and Sonic's past, gamers have an instantly recognizable world full of character to explore. Its non-violent and engaging gameplay is sure to appeal to many, while the multiplayer design of the events make it a prime travel or "pass the time" option. It's obvious that developer SEGA Japan put a lot of time in the Nintendo DS version, crafting an experience that stands proudly on its own two feet.
CCC Freelance Writer