Review: Mario and Sonic at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics
After the amazing London 2012 Olympics we are onto the Winter Olympics taking place Sochi, Russia. We have heard a lot of horror stories from the people over at the actual games but I cannot help but ask myself if Mario and Sonic will have the same poor planning or will all the problems be forgotten as it is the Olympics after all?
Now, as to be expected, the is not a whole lot of story to Mario and Sonic at the Winter Olympics, even playing in story mode. Individual mode is basically a two hour preview of all the eighteen sports on offer. Of the eighteen events on offer only ten are based on real events like curling and hocky and the other eight are all imaginary like snowball fights. Even though this game is made to draw attention to the spectacular events of the Olympics, instead of having a great sense of pride I was left feeling a little deflated. Everything was just a little mundane and just not as fun after the numerous other Olympic titles from Mario and Sonic.
Mario and Sonic at the Winter Olympics is a game that relies mainly on motion controls. Therefore with a game that relies on motion controls you would expect them to be the best available but sadly, they are not. I found myself getting penalty points and not hitting markers just because the character wouldn’t move when I was clearly moving. The goal for most of the games are the same, basically get to the bottom of the track as fast as you can but there are only a few that differ. After going through a few of the games with the same system it does get a little monotonous and boring. Couple with playing the previous titles in the series the fun has worn off as so many things are being repeated.
There are a few games that are great like hockey which supports up to four players. There’s some fun to be had here as there’s passing, shooting, trying to get power shots which means there’s actual gameplay to be found. Curling is also quite good too as it makes a good use nearly every function available and requires some strategy as you plan your moves.
After going through all the games you can choose to involve trivia plus there is a a great deal of unlocks like retro music, clothes and mini games. When playing on “story mode” you have to beat the AI before progressing on to the next stage. This game sadly falls into the pitfall where on easy the AI was almost non-existent but on normal it was almost unbeatable – there is not not a happy medium.
For the first time in this franchise there is now an online feature which is great. Racking up scores against friends or random people across the world is a much needed boost to the series. The other neat feature is that your scores are added to your home country so not only do you want to beat everyone but you want to get your country to the top of the leaderboard. As good as the online feature are, there is only a total of four games available and it is quite a pain to set up as there are no lobbies. This means once you have finished your game you are thrown right back to the main menu, making you start the slow process all over again.
One of the best areas of this game is in its presentation. It’s bright and cheerful as all Mario and Sonic games are and is the best looking in the series yet. That doesn’t mean they’re the best around but it’s the one of the few parts of the game that an effort seems to have been made. The game is also presented in a TV broadcast style which adds to the slickness. Again it’s not going to be giving a title such as NBA 2K14 much to fear but an improvement is an improvement.
To sum up
I wanted to like Mario and Sonic at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics but there was just too much stacked against, such as unbalanced A.I, bad motion control and lack of online variety. However these don’t make up for the few rays of sunshine like a fun online system and improved graphics.
Version reviewed: Wii U
Mario and Sonic at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics is out now on Wii U.