I know it’s been a while now, but I still find the current buddy-buddy relationship between Mario and Sonic a bit unnatural. These guys are supposed to be arch enemies, but these days they’re quite happy to go skiing with each other, in spite of their differences. However, I’ve been playing Nintendo and Sega games since the days of the NES and Master System, so I may be something of a purist in this respect.
Still, I guess I just have to accept this state of affairs, especially as I owe Den Of Geek a review of Mario & Sonic At The Winter Olympic Games, a title that sees some of videogaming’s favourite characters (and a few you’ve probably never heard of) battling it out to come top in a range of different snow- and ice-based sports. It’s clearly been made to tie in with the real Winter Olympics, which start in February 2010, but obviously in a way where giant blue hedgehogs are considered to be a normal thing.
Of course, everyone knows that the Winter Games are just a rubbish version of the real Olympics that take place when the weather’s bad, and with events that mainly consist of going down a hill really fast. However, while they, no doubt, fail as spectator sports, the events in the tournament hold far more promise for a videogame.
Being a Wii game, you might expect to do skiing events by holding the Wii Remote and Nunchuk like ski poles and propelling your on-screen character as if you were genuinely flying down a hill on two planks of wood. Strangely, though, you just steer by tilting them left or right together. Of course, you could hold them to your sides if wanted to, but it’s just as effective to hold them together and rotate them like an invisible steering wheel.
The courses themselves are rather dull, so it plays like a slightly rubbish driving game. Using the Wii Fit Balance Board in conjunction with the Remote and Nunchuk might help matters, but unfortunately, I don’t own one of those, because I’m not fat.
Moving on from the mediocre skii events, there’s snowboarding, which is as boring as most snowboarding games, speed skating, which involves jerking the microphone from left to right, halfpipe, where the gesture-based trick system is far too inaccurate, and the bobsleigh and skeleton, which are more fun than you might expect considering how on-rails the sport is by definition. There’s also figure skating and ice hockey, neither of which is particularly satisfying.
Indeed, the only events that are particularly fun in single-player are curling and ski jumping, but the words ‘single player’ should be the clue; while none of the events are exactly inspiring, this game is all about multiplayer, where being able to shake the Wii Remote really, really quickly suddenly becomes a valuable skill.
If you’re likely to be playing this title with friends, it might be worth a crack, but only if you don’t already own a copy of Mario & Sonic At The Olympic Games, because like the real thing, this is just a snowy version of that, but less fun.
Mario & Sonic At The Olympic Winter Gamesis out now and available from the Den Of Geek Store.