Mario and Sonic at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics is a crossover sports/party video game. It is the 4th game in the Mario & Sonic series and is one of two games that Nintendo and Sega have partnered for on the Wii U. It’s the first in the series to be published by Nintendo Globally.
As this is the first Mario and Sonic Olympics game to appear on the Wii U, you can expect a huge graphical improvement. The character models of all the characters look better than they ever have before. There are a ton of characters here that we’ve never seen being rendered in HD so that was one of the first things I noticed when booting up the game. There are also a number of locations that are being recreated in HD for the first time. The soundtrack is at you’d expect it. It’s catchy without being too annoying but don’t expect to remember it once you’ve switched the game off.
Mario and Sonic at The Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics is the series first entry on the Wii U. Taking this into consideration the game requires that you use the Wii U GamePad if you’re playing by yourself or a Wii Remote Plus if you’re taking on multiplayer. Some of the games also require the use of the Nunchuck. Whilst most people have a Wii Remote Plus, it’s an interesting decision that some games actually require it.
There’s quite a good variety of Olympic events to take part in. These range from speed skating, to curling, to bob sleighing. The thing that was absolutely loved is that the Wii U GamePad is really taken advantage of. When you’re Bob-sleighing, you can use the Wii U GamePad in order to steer your way through the tubes. Other events use a combination of both the GamePad and Wii Remote but for the most part things are kept fairly simple. The thing that annoyed me most though is that you had to constantly change control methods. Some events require the GamePad whilst some require the Wii Remote. I wish that there was a more universal way of playing and that you could choose this method from the start screen.
Mario and Sonic 2014 ventures into the online space for the first time in the series. With only four events that are playable online, I can’t help but feel that it was a rushed decision and one that could’ve been implemented a whole lot better. I understand that a lot of these sports wouldn’t really fit into an online space but the more popular games such as Ice Hockey isn’t even playable online.
Thankfully Nintendo have included a few other Network features. You can share photos and compare your records with your Wii U friends and the wider Miiverse community. Thankfully when you’re not using the Wii Remote for an event, you can display commentary and things like gameplay tips. I also really liked the way that the Wii U GamePad was integrated into the menus. It’s really refreshing to have developers take advantage of the touch screen and second screen on the GamePad.
The biggest problem with Mario and Sonic at The 2014 Winter Olympics is the inconsistency in events. There are quite a few control issues which really make the game unenjoyable at times and the quality of events is really up and down. Some of the events are really easy to get into and play and other events just simply feel like a chore. Ice Hockey is one that we really enjoyed but was still hampered by weird controls.
Outside of the 16 main events, there are also Dream Events. Whilst these are also quite inconsistent, they are extremely interesting. Things like Roller Coaster Bobsleighing and Hole-In-One Curling are an absolute blast. They reinvent standard events and really blow your mind with their utter craziness. The Bullet Bill race is a ton of fun in particular.
Mario and Sonic at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics is a solid game. It doesn’t really do anything to push itself beyond that unfortunately. The Online functionality is interesting but not deep enough to use past a certain extent. If you’re playing with friends then you’re guaranteed to get some fun out of this but don’t expect to spend days playing it by yourself. There is a lot to be unlocked within the game if that’s your sort of thing.