The 2010 Winter Olympics have come and gone, and all that’s left are memories; memories, and this game from Sega. If you’ve ever felt the need to take part in the olympics without all that troublesome training and effort, now you can. You might find yourself looking like a green dinosaur or blue hedgehog as you compete, but hey, it’s a small price to pay, right?
Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games does a pretty good job of making you feel like you’re there in Vancouver. The events are all held in virtual recreations of the venues used in the actual Winter Games this year. Skiing down a mountain, over moguls or blazing a path down a bobsled or skeleton run feels incredibly authentic no matter what character you’re choosing.
The events felt a little more hit or miss for me. Some of them are compellingly accurate, such as the bobsled/skeleton runs and curling. This is especially true of the bobsled/skeleton if you happen to have the Wii Balance Board, which does a wonderful job of using subtle body and weight shifts to control your movement down the track.
Others suffer a bit more for their translation to the controller. Hockey and Figure skating are, by their nature, unable to be represented with as much fidelity as something like bobsled. It’s unfortunate and leaves us stuck with events that have extremely oversimplified controls. Given the audience for the Wii, it’s hard to take Sega to task for this. I do think it was the right decision to simplify the controls, but it does leave gamers like myself feeling that those events are lacking.
One fun element of the game that I appreciate a great deal is the ability to unlock various “dream” event versions of the regular winter events. These take the relatively mundane “normal” sports featured in the olympics and translate them into forms that might feel more appropriate in a classic Mario or Sonic series game.
The dream ski jump takes you right out into space, leaping through vistas last seen in Super Mario Galaxy. You’ll fly through the great void in the sky, avoiding small planets as you aim to land on your mark. Another has you skiing down an obstacle course that’s taken straight from Mario Kart, items and all.
These dream events seem a little gimmicky at times, and the game play doesn’t always fit the concept terribly well. The Mario Kart inspired racing for instance is just too slow to really do Mario Kart any justice. On another level it just doesn’t matter though; if you’ve ever played the games these dream events are based on, you will end up smiling big-time when Sonic bowls Bowser off his skis and into a snow bank with a green shell on a sharp turn.