The lights are on
What new ideas the game brings to the table and how well old ideas are presented.
How good a game looks, taking into account any flaws such as bad collision or pop-up.
Does the game’s music and sound effects get you involved or do they make you resolve to always play with the volume down?
Basically, the controller to human interface. The less you think about the hunk of plastic in your hands, the better the playability.
Flat out, just how fun the game is to play. The most important factor in rating a game.
With Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games, I feel like I’m
writing a review of a marketing plan, not a game. Combining two of
gaming’s legendary characters with the world’s most famous sporting
event translated into worldwide sales of over 10 million copies for
Sega and Nintendo last time around, so a sequel was virtually
guaranteed. Two years later, the duo is back and looking for more
filthy lucre at the Vancouver Winter Games.I had a good idea of
what I was in for before I even popped the disc into the Wii. The game
features 27 events, a good number on paper, but one that’s somewhat
misleading. Many of the events – like alpine skiing or snowboarding –
don’t feel particularly different from each other unless you use the
Wii Balance Board functionality, a feature that doesn’t warrant the
time it takes get the Wii to sense the peripheral.Some events are
better than others, with the more race-oriented events like skeleton,
skiing, and snowboarding usually reaching a level of acceptable
gameplay. That said, the skiing isn’t as good as it was in Wii Ski, and
the snowboarding as good as in Shaun White Snowboarding: Road Trip, so
there isn’t a lot of benefit here to anyone but the most ardent Mario
and Sonic fans. The other events range from fairly entertaining (dream
gliding and dream snowball fight) to annoying (hockey, speed skating).
Before you ask “What the heck is dream gliding?” – let me explain. No,
you didn’t miss it in the last Olympics, it’s a hang-gliding style game
that takes place in a weird, Mario-and-Sonic themed aerial environment.
The developers have added a few odd events like this, which are fairly
fun but distance the game even further from its Olympic origins. The
game also features challenge matches with rivals like a giant robot or
Jet, a Sonic character that looks like a Hedgehog with a beak.
Apparently, he exists, and is really good at speed skating (at least I
learned something in writing this review). These annoying matches are
identical to the regular events, being distinguished only by the fact
that you have to beat them to proceed to the merciful end of the game.
Is it more fun with friends? Perhaps, in the sense that misery loves
company. I’d knock the game for not having online multiplayer if I
actually thought anyone would bother to play it. In general, the
minigames work about as well as Wii games always do: just enough to
prevent me from calling them broken. For all Nintendo’s claims that the
Wii was going to empower developers with brave new mechanics, the
reality is that we’re already to the stage where motion control schemes
seem just as clichéd as any console two-stick FPS formula – but without
the accuracy necessary to convey compelling gameplay. Functional but
not fun, Mario & Sonic at the Winter Olympic Games is a product
that’s destined to sell...and destined to be forgotten.
Email the author Matt Helgeson, or follow on Twitter, and Game Informer.