'Mario & Sonic: Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games' is out for Wii U on 8 November.
- Lots of Nintendo and Sega characters to play as
- Big range of real Olympic events and 'dream events'
- Interesting Wii U Gamepad controls for some games
- Four-player multiplayer events
- Online multiplayer
"Join your favorite characters, from Mario and Sonic to Princess Peach and Amy, as they team up and compete in the most exciting sports events at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games. Enjoy the thrill of 24 exciting events including bobsleigh, skiing, figure skating pairs, and even snowboard slopestyle, which will make its Olympic debut in Sochi, Russia."
The Olympics have rarely proven to be the inspiration for great moments in video gaming (Caveman Ugh-lympics aside...) and sadly Mario and Sonic's latest outing to the Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, is no exception.
As ever this is a collection of short mini-games designed to collectively reflect the variety and depth of the Olympics. And this time around there are at least 25 to choose from, ranging from downhill skiing to figure-skating, snowboard 'slopestyle' and curling alongside a bunch of "supercharged" dream events, which try to make the Winter Olympics exciting. (Sorry, even more exciting.) So you'll be competing in "rollercoaster" bobsleigh and street-ice hockey, and other psychedelic versions of wintery pursuits, as well as traditional skiing, skating and that weird own with the rifles in it.
Predictably, some of the events work quite well, while others fall flat on their face, onto a hard, cold sheet of ice. Bobsleigh is fast and entertaining, and the Curling event is oddly compelling, especially with other players in the room with you. The 'Dream Event' version - Hole-In-One-Curling - is also pretty fun, turning the same mechanics into a golf game set in Sonic's Green Hill Zone. The skiing events are fairly solid, and the Snowball Scrimmage event - which is sort of like Call of Duty, with snowballs and Princess Peach - is also weirdly compelling, if a bit shallow. But others are less successful - Ice Hockey is all over the place, and Biathlon uses a mixed control set-up between the Wii Remote and Gamepad, which is inconsistent and annoying.
Inconsistency is the game's biggest problem overall. The control schemes are all customised for each sport and take too long to explain - both in the game's own tutorials, and to anyone playing with you in the room. The Gamepad is rarely used to its fullest, and the promising Worldwide Vs. online multiplayer mode is limited to just four events.
There is fun to be had here - the game is well produced, overall, while the appeal of having 20 Sega and Nintendo favourites duel it out at one of the world's most controversial sporting occasions is bizarrely interesting. But the game feels slow, confused and ultimately a bit irritating to play - which when most of the fun to be had is in convincing non-gamers to join in round the TV, is a bit of a killer.