In the golden age lived by Nintendo Wii only a few years ago, among the myriad of party games released to the delight of adults and children there was a series that managed to win the public's approval right away, we are talking about Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games. The huge success of the series has meant that in addition to the original title, released in the now distant 2007, followed by portable versions and variants dedicated to winter sports.
It's up to today Mario & Sonic at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games who anticipate on Wii U the XXII Winter Olympic Games to be held in February in Russia, and a title that continues the exclusive partnership signed between Sega and Nintendo.
Ready. Departure. VIAAAAA!
For those unfamiliar with the M&S series it must be said that it is a multi-event sports party game, which gathers numerous of the official sports present in the Olympic competition, flanked by some variants designed exclusively for the game, which blend elements and features belonging to the Mario and Sonic sagas.
Once the game is started we will find ourselves in front of a single hub that offers us all the available modes. Let's start talking about the more classic and less demanding, or that of the Single Match. By accessing this menu, all 10 sporting events and related variants will be immediately available, and it will be possible to take part in one of the activities either alone or in the company of some friends, becoming the perfect way to learn the basics of the game, with the opportunity to train or try to beat the various records set. In addition to the 10 official events, including the Alpine Skiingor, the Curling, the Ice Hockey and Figure skating, we find the Dream Events, 8 Olympic disciplines revised in the style of Mario and Sonic. Here the rules are twisted to create fun mixes that are perfect for challenges with friends. For example, the classic Curling turns into a sort of mini golf, in which the first player who manages to get to the House with the fewest shots will win. Or hockey, in itself very competitive and frenetic, takes on another dimension, with redesigned arenas containing obstacles and bonuses. Also interesting is the Winter Champion, a long and articulated descent to be tackled at full speed where at each check-point, depending on the door crossed, we will receive a new vehicle, be it bobsled, skis or ice skates, forcing us to follow certain trajectories to be able to continue our race without losing speed. M&S does not forget the single player and although each mode is designed to be played in a group, even those who currently do not have the necessary company can have fun and amuse themselves for hours. Among all we find the modality Challenge of Legends, a sort of story mode in which the twenty characters included in the game will face some tests offered by a group of mysterious enemies through 5 different scenarios.
Fun below zero!
For multiplayer, on the other hand, they are particularly apt Medley delusion e Quiz & Skills. The first collects a series of selected events in the form of mini tournaments; the participants will get points based on the placement in the single tests and they will be added up at the end decreeing the winner. Each medley will offer a specific theme, such as sports set only in the world of Mario or Sonic or compilations of competitive events such as speed races or more strategic containing curling or cross-country skiing.
Quiz & Ability, on the other hand, represents the real novelty of this edition and despite the lightness of the mode on balance it is the most ironic one and also suitable for those who are not particularly skilled in certain challenges. Making the verse to the various prize quizzes, each competitor will have to answer questions or try their hand at solving puzzles. For example, again citing the beloved curling, the stone will be used to recompose an image and the winner will be the one among the competitors who manages to recompose it in the most faithful way to the original. Other events expect to be able to find a certain character "hidden" within some tracks or recognize them through the few details provided.
Over the years, one of the major criticisms raised by the series has been the absence of an online component, limiting the experience to home use only. With Sochi 2014 Sega tries to remedy it, introducing a modality VS to be able to compete with your friends or with players all over the world. Unfortunately at the time we are the online service is not yet active and it was not possible to try it, but we will not fail to return to the subject as soon as the game is available in stores. There is no shortage of options related to the Miiverse, and making new records we will be asked to give an interview, which will be recorded in the form of a message on Nintendo's social service. Every action performed in M&S, all records and any results will be recorded and will help unlock a series of contents and extras, which will be used to beautify your Mii, also improving some characteristics such as speed or agility, or new audio tracks that dig the memory history of Sonic and Mario titles and which can be used to customize our games.
The winter series of M&S offers a decidedly intuitive and purely arcade approach to various sports. Almost the whole game is based on the use of the Wiimote which will be used in various ways, often going to simulate the actions that the characters will perform on the screen, such as skiing or figure skating the movements of the arms of the artists, or beautifully outlined and in common with the various sports such as jumping or the gesture dedicated to the start. Contrary to what one might think, however, the Game Pad will play a marginal role here in the gameplay and will be limited only to some tests, while in the others it is easily replaceable to the classic wiimote, an obligatory choice to maintain a certain balance in multiplayer.
Where is the gamepad used then? For example in the discipline of Team Bob, the first player will use the Game Pad to control the vehicle while on the lower screen he will have a first person view to better grasp the trajectory to be used and coordinate the movements of the team. In curling, on the other hand, the second screen will be used to set a strategy and have an overview of the track with the position of the various stones. In Biathlon plays a bonus role, in fact the player who will be the first to pass the cross-country skiing phase, thus arriving in the fire zone will be able to use the tablet to have a zoomed view of the targets, obtaining an advantage over the other players. Where available especially in multiplayer, the Game Pad will be used as a screen for the first player, while the others will rely on the more classic split screen.
Another small novelty linked to the use of the "paddone" concerns the Mario and Sonic TV, five thematic channels that offer a whole series of data ranging from our performances to world rankings, graphs with statistics of performance in sports, channels dedicated to online, with the possibility of downloading the ghosts of the best players and the summary of all the completable challenges.
On the other hand, the absence of the Balance Board support that had characterized the previous chapter and which could have been a nice variant to the classic controls and an alternative use reason in addition to the one in charge for Wii Fit is mysterious.
The art of recycling
Overall M&S proves to be a valid alternative to the various Nintendo Land and Wii Party U, especially if this is your first time. In fact, M&S is nothing more than a simple upgrade of the version dedicated to the Vancouver Olympics, which re-proposes in its almost totality all the sports present and the Dream variants, with some tweaks here and there and a few real important news.
The same can be attributed to the graphic aspect, which differs little from the good work done on the Wii by simply appearing as an HD version, while we know that the Nintendo console can do much more. Despite this defiance, the title offers some creative momentum in the Dream mode thanks to the thematic levels that offer glimpses ripped from the worlds of Mario and Sonic, much more interesting than the slightly too bare tracks of Sochi and its anonymous sports halls. .
However, with the change of console there is some improvement and it can be seen, especially in the polygonal models of the characters, in the resolution of the textures used and in the quality of the animations, more accurate than in the past.
✓ Tons of Extras to unlock
✓ Does his duty in multiplayer x Virtually the same game seen on the Wii
x Use of the marginal Game Pad
x Technically, more could have been done