Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games Review
Wii | DS
Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games box art
System: Wii, DS Review Rating Legend
Dev: SEGA 1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid 4.0 - 4.4 = Great
Pub: SEGA 2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
Release: Oct. 13, 2009 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 5.0 = The Best
Players: 1-4 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
ESRB Rating: Everyone 3.5 - 3.9 = Good
Mario & Sonic Return to the Podium
by Caleb Newby

It wasn't so long ago that Nintendo and SEGA were arch-nemeses. Both were leading developers of premier consoles bound and determined to take a stranglehold on the market. Each had their number one character that identified their brands, Mario for Nintendo and Sonic for SEGA.

Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games screenshot

Jump to the present day and these one-time rivals are now tag-teaming in video games. Sure, they've graced the same game before, notably in Super Smash Bros Brawl., but that was a game more conducive for each to beat the hell out of the other. And much like Roddy Piper and Keith David in They Live, Mario and Sonic have buried the hatchet after an excruciatingly long battle in Smash Bros. and seem to have put the past behind them. In fact, the unlikely duo has an ongoing case of Olympic fever carrying over from last year's Summer Games. Naturally, they are teaming up for the most noble of all missions: to save the Winter Olympics.

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As luck would have it, Bowser and Doctor Eggman have joined forces for the most diabolical of schemes. Presumably angry that they have yet to taste real success against their respective foils, Bowser and Eggman have kidnapped the magical spirit creatures that create the snow needed for the Olympic Games. Naturally, Mario and Sonic were en route to take in the festivities anyway and are quickly on the case, freeing the spirits and adding allies along the way. But, instead of bopping foes on their heads or blazing through them at breakneck speeds, Mario and Sonic have found a more peaceful solution: healthy Olympic competition.

Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games screenshot

The games may not all be exact interpretations of Olympic events (I don't believe I've ever seen two Olympians taking aim at each other in high-powered snowball machines), but they are varied and fun. There are too many to list here but rest assured variety abounds. Alpine skiing is a fast-paced reflex game, where as cross country skiing utilizes more of a strategic skill set. Rifle shooting has you touching the stylus quickly to shoot targets as they appear while avoiding the wrong type. Mixed in with the regular games are "Dream Events"; four-player simultaneous games that add a distinct Nintendo multiplayer twist. Curling Bowling, Fever Hockey, and Extreme Snowboarding are a few of the options available here and are great for a party group looking to get in the Olympic spirit.

Controls are a strong suit, with each Olympic contest giving its own unique actions for gameplay with about perfect control sensitivity. Alpine skiing was one event I had particular trouble with for awhile until eventually figuring out the ins and outs of the controls. Most are much more straightforward and only require an attempt or two to get the gist, but it takes much longer to get really good. Of particular enjoyment (and don't judge me for it) was the figure skating game, with it's entirely unique control scheme and a (somewhat) relaxing pace compared to many of the more frantic events. Regardless of which games you tend to gravitate towards, a title like this could easily be ruined by subpar controls. Fortunately, SEGA Japan has done a great job keeping the experience enjoyable.

Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games screenshot

I'd be remiss to not mention the slew of characters available to play as. If you're starting off in the story/adventure mode you begin with just Sonic and Mario before quickly assembling quite a team one at a time. But pop over to the other modes and you have no less than 20 different characters from the Mario and Sonic universes, each with their own unique skill sets and ability. For example, both Mario and Luigi are ranked as well-rounded, but Mario is slightly more powerful (compact frame, don'tcha know) while Luigi has slightly better jumping ability, a nod dating all the way back to Super Mario Bros 2.

Screenshots / Images
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