Gameplay ImpressionsGameplay Impressions
Though the concept is identical to its predecessor, Nintendo has had to tailor the gameplay mechanics differently to fit in with the range of snow and ice-based sports. The first game in the series largely involved furiously waggling the Wii-mote and Nunchuck like our lives depended on it, which resulted in us getting far too tired to play the game for more than a half-an-hour stint at a time. Thankfully, the foot has been taken off the gas somewhat in the Winter Olympic Games and a lot of the sports rely far more on tilting, turning and the subtle movements of your controller rather than speed of your waggling wrists and your sheer staying power and strength.
Though Mario & Sonic At The Olympic Winter Games doesn't quite achieve the same level of success as the tight and more in-depth control scheme of Wii Sports Resorts it does offer a well-rounded and enjoyable package of winter sports. The 16 disciplines, which take in 9 winter sports, have all been designed with accessibility in mind and aside from one or two events we've been able to master the controls after one or two goes at most sports. The simple control scheme is going to appeal to young children and families looking for a non-stressful, pick-up-and-play experience, but others may be put off by its lack of depth. Still, there is a challenge for the more seasoned gamer who should get some enjoyment out of trying to gain gold medals in all events and beating their top scores, or through competing in the Dream Events, which offer an enjoyable spin on the standard set of sporting disciplines.
The fact that you're traveling downhill, over a ramp, or skating on ice though for many of the sports in The Winter Olympics means that, despite the simple control scheme, speed plays a major part and many of the events are exciting as a result of having to react swiftly to your characters movements. There is a lack of variety in some sports and you'll see a similar pattern of tilting and turning your controllers to navigate your way downhill, as you simply steer your character to victory, but there are some real gems among the disciplines and they come in the most unlikely of events
One of our favourite events is the rhythm-based, figure skating game. Twirl the Wii Remote to perform a spin, flick it upwards to jump and follow race lines to power up your jumps. The team-based games are also a highlight and are more in-depth than the solo games. Hockey and curling both take good advantage of the controllers and rely a lot on your skill. Similarly, the half pipe games are entertaining to play as you shake the controller upwards to jump, flick it around to spin and then use the wii-mote to draw a shape to pull off a trick. Though some events are more fun to play than others, Mario & Sonic At The Olympic Winter Games offers a well-presented package of sporting disciplines with something for everyone to enjoy: an entertaining party games package. The fact that you can pick and choose your favourite events from the outset, rather than unlock them, is a bonus.
Sega has also gone further in this second game of the series to appeal to fans of Sonic and Mario and the Dream Events do well to capture the two worlds by fusing ideas from past games into some of the winter sports. For example Ski Jumping sees you taking to the skies of Super Mario Galaxy, collecting items along the way, whereas a Mario Kart-type game sees you competing against four other players, collecting power-ups against a back-drop of familiar Mario music.
Though Mario and Sonic At The Winter Olympic Games doesn't try to make the best use of the motion controls, and Sega could have done a better job at moving the series forward, the game does what is says on the tin. It entertains, albeit unspectacularly, and provides an accessible and enjoyable set of party games. The lack of a multiplayer mode is a glaring omission, but there's still enough replay value to be had out of the numerous disciplines and game modes to ensure that it will be played at family get-togethers long after the Winter Olympics ends. Still, we'd like to see better from the next game in the series.
Final Score: 7.5/10