Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games

Mario_&_Sonic_Winter 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?

Environments

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.

Events

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.

Dream Events

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.

Holy Game Explosion!

Valkyria Chronicles
Image via Wikipedia

It's been forever and an age since I posted anything significant, and that's because my gaming world seems to have exploded. I've got so much stuff to play I don't even know where to start writing about it all - and so I've decided to post a written thumbnail gallery of what I'm going through right now.

Games I'm Still Playing

Star Ocean: The Last Hope, XBox 360

A Kingdom for Keflings, XBox 360 Live

Games I'm Playing But Haven't (Yet) Written About

Fantastic Contraption, http://www.fantasticcontraption.com

Amazing little web physics game along the lines of The Incredible Machine. You must get an object from one place to another by building fantastic contraptions out of various types of wheels and rods. Free to play with extra content if you're willing to pay a little. It's well worth it.

Little Big Planet, PS3.

I haven't dug too much into this one yet; I just picked it up a couple of days ago. I'm late to join this party and it's a shame, it's a pretty mind-blowing gaming experience. At it's core, LBP is a fairly typical platform game, but they expose that core in an unprecedented way by giving you all the tools you need to create a rediculous variety of worlds of your own to play in, alone or with friends.

Persona 4, PS2

I caved into temptation and started playing Persona 4, and was hugely impressed. As fantastic as Persona 3 is, Persona 4 takes a small step beyond it in nearly every respect. The steps may be small but the number of them adds up to a great difference; Persona 4 is one of the best RPGs I've played, so far. I'll be writing it up soon.

Valkyria Chronicles, PS3

This game really blew my mind, even more so than Little Big Planet. When I got myself a PS3, I got it for two reasons - it was the cheapest BluRay player available on the market at the time, and because I want to get Final Fantasy XIII for the PS3 when it's released. If I'd known about it, Valkyria Chronicles would have been more than enough justification. It's a strategy roleplaying game, not a genre I've ever tried before, but now I think I've been missing out. I'm not going to rave about this one too much, it's my #1 priority for an Impression post; I'll save it for that, coming up soon.

Pain, PS3 Store

This is a pretty small game I was introduced to just last week. The idea is to flick a living crash test dummy of a character around a scene, causing as much destruction as you can. It sounds kind of brainless and silly, which it is, but it's amazingly addictive and satisfying to play. The base game comes with one scene and a couple of characters to throw around. Two additional scenes and a large number of extra characters are available for purchase on the Sony Online Store.

Games I Am No Longer Playing

Persona 3 FES, PS2.

  • I'm still sucked in by the story on this one, but sadly I reached a point where I could not defeat a boss encounter and don't have enough saved games to go back and level up to try again. I will start a new game in the future, manage the early game days better, and possibly play at Easy level just so I can get through the story more effectively.

Harvest Moon - Tree of Tranquility, Wii.

  • A good game, one I enjoy, but I'm too far off the target audience for it to hold my attention against the likes of Star Ocean, Persona 4 and Valkyria Chronicles.
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