|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|
by Amanda L. Kondolojy
August 3, 2009 - Like many other gamers, I found the pairing of Mario and Sonic for last years' Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games to be a little odd. Still, for what it was, the game was fun despite having some glaring issues in the motion control and difficulty department. However, since the game was quite popular, Mario and Sonic have decided to take another trip to the Olympics, this time to the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver. We recently got a chance to go hands-on with Mario and Sonic's latest athletic endeavor, and we came away fairly impressed with what we saw.
We were able to play three of the game's sports: bobsledding, speed skating, and skiing. First up was bobsledding, which can be played with or without the Wii Balance Board. For this demo we played without the board. To control the bobsled, up to four players grab a Wii-mote and then press it to their chests. The goal is then to steer the bobsled by tilting your body (along with your fellow players) to the correct angle to follow the track. Your success here will be measured by two things: accuracy and unison.
The game wants you to really play as a team here, so being able to tilt to the right angle AND do it together with your teammates will result in the fastest possible time. However, if some of your teammates are a little bit off, your bobsled won't go as fast. Me as well as three others were even encouraged to play while standing in a vertical line to maximize our synchronicity. The bobsledding was a lot of fun, and the very strong co-op element really made it memorable.
The next event we were able to try out was speed skating. This mini-game has you speeding around a life-like rink to complete a set amount of laps against your opponents. Since this is a solo event, there are no cooperative elements, but you can play against up to three other people. This one is played with just the Wii-mote, and the object is to swing the Wii-mote in time with the skater onscreen to match their rhythm.
Once you figure out the rhythm, you have to keep it up to keep your speed. While we tried to speed up by swinging the Wii-mote faster, that just resulted in our character losing its balance and slowing down. The speed skating was definitely the most challenging of the three games we played, as nailing the rhythm is actually quite difficult. We weren't able to really get into it until the closing moments of the game, and would probably need a lot more time before we felt comfortable with the controls.
The final game we got to try out was skiing. This one was formatted similarly to speed skating and took the form of a kart-style race against up to three other players. This was the only mini-game we tried out that needed to use both the Wii-mote and the Nunchuk attachment. To start things off, you'll have to hold the Wii-mote and the Nunchuk upright and then give them a shove as soon as the race starts to simulate pushing off a ski slope. From there, you'll have to keep the Wii-mote and Nunchuk at your sides and lean left or right to steer. As you avoid obstacles and other players, you'll see special bonus gates that you will need to steer through in order to win the race, so precision steering is vital.
The steering mechanic felt very natural, and even though we missed the first couple gates by leaning a little too much, we were able to place in the end after leaning forward to give ourselves a little speed boost. Although there is a little bit of a learning curve associated with this event, it is not as difficult to master as the speed skating, and feels very natural.
The original Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games may have not been the best title, suffering from a steep learning curve and weak motion controls, Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games looks like it will correct many of these issues and will be a much better offering overall. The controls are a lot tighter, and with the exception of the speed skating mini-game, fairly easy to grasp after only one round. Although we'll have to wait until next February for the official Olympic Games to begin, you can check out Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games when it releases this October.
Amanda L. Kondolojy
CCC Staff Contributor