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Author Topic: Review - Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games (Wii)  (Read 2163 times)

Mark

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Review - Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games (Wii)
« on: December 03, 2009, 01:46:16 PM »


Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games is basically a set of minigames put into a nice, shiny package.  You have 9 Olympic events:

Alpine Skiing
Ski Jumping
Freestyle Skiing
Snowboard
Speed Skating
Figure Skating
Bobsleigh
Ice Hockey
Curling

There are also "Dream Events" that basically take all the original games and add a little flare to them by having crazy items, obstacles, and environments to run them in.  In some cases the gameplay is changed quite a bit - curling ends up more like bowling (which actually makes it a lot more fun).  There are also a couple new events - snowball fight and gliding.

The first thing you'll notice with this game is that the graphics are excellent.  Some of the best I've seen on the Wii.  The sound is good.  And the overall presentation is nice.

The load times are pretty long and this is exacerbated by the fact that the events are so short, so you'll be waiting around rather frequently as you go from event to event.  You'll also notice that the controls aren't all that interesting and feel very similar between events.

The real problem, however is that they don't feel very reliable.  In most events, you'll feel like you are fighting the controls and don't feel very rewarded by using skill.  I remember one time when Tina was doing figure skating.  At the very end, you need to raise your hands up at the end of a countdown.  She didn't really know what she was doing, so she kind of flailed her arms around and I thought for sure she was going to fail that move because the timing looked awful.  She got a perfect.  The next time she did the event, I watched her time the move perfectly and it failed her.  What the heck?

I think out of all the events, I liked the bobsled race the most.  And the reason is because you really feel like you are in control of what is going on.  The game gives you an on-screen indicator of where you are leaning towards (with the Wiimote).  For all sled riders.  It is very clear and feels quite responsive.  Plus, getting your sled in the speed zone is very rewarding because the feeling of speed is quite tangible.  Other events just didn't have this oomph.

The main game takes place in Festival Mode.  You get in-game training for the events and this is where you unlock dream events for free play.  You will also get challenged by special enemies (such as a bobsled race against a huge Bullet Bill).  Most of these are fun, but you must win in order to progress (the curling challenge will probably have you cursing the TV).  The Festival Mode is nice because it gives you a progressive challenge.  However, the fact that the training events are slow and unskippable means that you probably won't want to come back here after playing through it once.  There really should have been a separate training mode and then a progressive story mode.

The Festival Mode can be played completely in coop with up to 4 players.  Playing with fewer than 4 means having CPUs on your team.  The problem with this is that many events are individually scored, but it's your cumulative team score that determines your ranking.  As an example, Tina and I are playing coop.  We have 2 CPU team members.  We're doing alpine skiing.  Tina and I both get 150s.  Our CPU team mates, for whatever reason, get 80s.  We ended up getting 3rd (out of 4) even though our individual scores were by far the best among all teams.  We have no control over how our CPU team mates do.  It's either random or they purposely gimp them when we are ahead.

Another thing that's kind of weird in coop is sometimes you play at the same time in split screen for singles events.  Other times you have to wait for the other player.  I'm not really sure why.  Most events have you playing at the same time though, which is nice.  Dream Events in particular are generally very coop friendly (and more fun anyway).

Summary:

When all is said and done, you have a handful of decent mini games marred by lackluster controls.  Kids will probably dig the game anyway, especially since spastic waggling often sees as good of results (or better) as precision movement.  Also, you can import any of your Miis into the game and even earn money to buy stuff to dress them up and so forth.  It's actually pretty cute.  But for me, gameplay is king and I didn't really enjoy myself enough to want to suffer through another bout of load times to play.

The game is a 6.25 overall and gets a 6.75 on the coop scale.  There's enough good here to warrant a play through.  But not enough to make it a keeper.



Alchemeron

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Re: Review - Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games (Wii)
« Reply #1 on: December 04, 2009, 04:31:53 AM »
The Wii is the king of shovelware, isn't it?
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Mark

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Re: Review - Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games (Wii)
« Reply #2 on: December 04, 2009, 10:59:32 AM »
I think that was actually statistically proven at some point a year or two ago.  You can thank THQ and Ubisoft for that.

Nonetheless, this does not change the fact that the Wii has New Super Mario Bros, which is probably the most enjoyable game we've played in years.

 




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