E3 2009: Preview: Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games - Preview

By Nick Pantazis, June 11, 2009
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There is no third party title on Wii that’s sold as well as Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games. There are few first party titles that have even sold as well. Now with the winter Olympics approaching, Sega has made the inevitable sequel. Mario & Sonic at the Winter Olympic Games seems to be more than just the minigame collection its predecessor was though.

We started out with a look at the DS version. We were shown the new stylus skiing minigame, where players slide the stylus on the touch screen to move forward and turn by directing it to the side. This worked pretty well, and it was a reasonable representation of skiing. After that we were shown the Bobslead event, where the front weight distribution and rear weight distribution were handled with the D-Pad and buttons respectively. The player had to shift the weight of the front and rear characters to turn the sled and stay on course.

These were pretty neat minigames, but they were what I was expecting in the game. The more surprising thing was the snowboard racing game. Players control any of the Mario and Sonic universe characters in a basically complete Mario Kart clone. The game even has the Mario Kart items such as the blue shells and so on. If you’ve ever wanted a Mario vs. Sonic Kart, this is probably the closest you are going to get.

The other really cool thing about the DS version was its exclusive game mode called Adventure Tools. This is a puzzle and minigame adventure, where you explore a large overworld as your chosen character, and interact with all the characters of the Sonic and Mario universe. Players solve puzzles and complete minigames, but the cool part about this is that it’s the first time Sonic and Mario characters have ever really interacted with one another.

After a quick glimpse of Adventure Tours we moved onto the Wii version. The first event we saw was figure skating, which required you to do motions in time with scripted events and the music. It was sort of like a rhythm game. The song we heard was surprisingly a classical music piece, and we are told there will be six in the final game. It looked pretty fun.

We then saw Ice Hockey, which is in my opinion was what set the Wii version apart. Ice Hockey is a clone of Mario Strikers Charged but with Sonic characters as well. Each character has their own special move, and the passing to charge up the shot function is identical to Strikers. This looked like a lot of fun, and the only shortcoming is there seems to be only one stage for it.

After that we saw the Wii version’s own Mario Kart clone, which was even more impressive than the DS one, as it was on a recreation of the Mario Circuit track from Mario Kart Wii. Players move the Wiimote and Nunchuk down in a skiing motion to accelerate. All items expected of the Mario Kart series are present, and in their correct locations.  

Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games is clearly more than your average minigame collection, and a lot of time has been devoted into making it into a full experience for Wii gamers. The Mario Kart and Strikers remakes within the game are very cool additions. If these offered more tracks they could be sold as individual games by themselves, but as it is they are an impressive addition to Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games. The game will launch in October of this year for both Wii and DS.

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