PN Review: Mario & Sonic at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games
Mario and Sonic at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games (from here on out referred to as simply ‘Mario and Sonic’) is the latest game in the Mario and Sonic series. The game is exclusively available for the Wii U which means no handheld version this time around. Mario and Sonic has never been my favorite series of games, but the games definitely get better with each new outing. This new title has been specifically developed with the Wii U GamePad in mind but it may not be the winning combination fans might hope it would be.
The latest Mario and Sonic game is specifically geared towards Winter sports in celebration of the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia. The gameplay is pretty standard for Mario and Sonic games with the exception of some mini-games utilizing the Wii U GamePad’s touch screen or motion controls. When players boot up the game for the first time, they can choose from five different ways to play: Single Match, Legends Showdown, Medley Mania, Action and Answer Tour, and Worldwide VS. Single Match allows players to get right into the action and play some games.
In Single Match, players can choose from 10 Olympic Events and 8 Dream Events. The 10 Olympic Events contain games like Snowboarding, Skiing, and Figure Skating. The Dream Events have more unique games such as Hole-in-One Curling, Snowball Scrimmage and Bullet Bill Sledge Racing. We don’t have time to focus on each event to so I’ve picked 3 events to review in detail.
The first event I played was the basic Snowboard event. The default setup was to use the GamePad’s motion control to carve down the mountain. The motion controls work pretty well but the thing that struck me first was the graphical presentation. This latest Mario and Sonic game looks incredible. I’ll probably say that more before the end of this review but it really can’t be overstated. The game looks very impressive visually. Ironically, this is the first time we’ve seen Mario and company in full 3D and full HD. Super Mario 3D World comes out in just a little under 2 weeks but Mario and Sonic gets first dibs on HD Mario characters. There are a couple variations to the Snowboard events but there isn’t a lot of depth to the gameplay.
Figure Skating Spectacular is the next event I played. This event is under the ‘Dream Events’ section so it’s not an actual Olympic event. It is basically a rhythm game using the Wii Remote. Characters from the Mario and Sonic universe are skating in tandem throughout various stages built on the ice. Players will have to move their Wii Remotes in sync with the motions/timing displayed on the TV. It’s not the most complicated game, but the fun is in the actual environments. As I played through the level, the stage kept changing and evolving to show different aspects around the Mushroom Kingdom. Eventually I was in a ‘boss battle’ of sorts with Bowser. Instead of running across a bridge to a switch, I was skating across doing various flips and spins to dodge his attacks. It’s a little hard to describe but it’s actually a lot of fun. Again, seeing various Mushroom Kingdom locales in full HD was simply a joy.
The last event is by the best event in the entire game: Hole-In-One Curling. How is this not a real sport?! Just imagine combining Miniature Golf with Curling….I know it doesn’t sound exciting, but it is. Trust me. The goal of the game is to get your curling stone to the golf pin while avoiding all the pitfalls and traps. There are ramps, jumps, and bumper pads all along the way for each ‘hole’. Utilizing the Wii U GamePad, players will slide their finger across the screen in the direction and speed they want to go. Then, players must tilt the GamePad to get extra speed. The curling stones are actually very large and have your character sitting on the top of them. By tilting the GamePad, the character on the stone tilts in that direction. I played the multiplayer in Hole-in-One Curling a lot. If the game wasn’t $50, I would say get it just to play this mini-game. It’s that fun.
This Mario and Sonic game is now fully playable online. Players can challenge their friends to different events and compare their top scores. Most every event allows at least 4 players to join in on the fun. If you’re looking for a party game this Holiday, I would actually consider this over Wii Party U. The games don’t have the greatest amount of depth, but there is a lot of variety and fun in the Dream Events.
Overall, the latest Mario and Sonic is decent, but the real fun is not found in the Olympic events. The Dream Events definitely make up for most of the shortcomings in the game and the visuals are absolutely stunning. The developers really took the time to polish the user-interface and presentation. Mario and Sonic at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games offers some decent fun and is definitely worth picking up if only for the Hole-in-One Curling.