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First Impressions: Mario & Sonic at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games

Posted by Ron DelVillano

2014th time’s the charm

Believe it or not, nearly four years have already passed since the 2010 Winter Olympics hit Vancouver, Canada. That means, as you probably already know, the 2014 Winter Olympics are just around the corner, this time settling comfortably in Sochi, Russia. The occurrence of the worldwide games also means that, you guessed it, there’s a new Mario & Sonic game in development — the aptly and lengthily titled Mario & Sonic at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games. We recently had the opportunity to play this new series entry and though our time with it was short – limited to only playing two of the different types of races offered – we now have a better idea of what to expect from this title, and it’s exactly what we were all anticipating.

Being the first Mario & Sonic game on the Wii U, there are obviously some new features exclusive to the console, but the core gameplay has remained almost unchanged. This game, like the rest in the series before it, is a collection of mini-games that are all based around Olympic events. While it has been announced that there will be 16 different events to play, plus 8 additional “dream events,” there has been no official confirmation on what all of these will be. All we know for sure at this point is that there are at least two different downhill racing events, because those are what we got to play — one was a straight up snowboard race, and another was longer and transitioned between skis, skates and a bobsled.

Just like in the previous Wii games, many of the controls in this one were associated with Wii Remote movements. Characters in multiplayer races were steered by pointing the Wii Remote at the screen and tilting it from left to right, while a quick upward flick of the Remote when hitting a jump at just the right time would increase the character’s speed. The motion controls were surprisingly responsive, leading us to wonder if Nintendo has actually found a way to increase the Wii Remote’s sensitivity when used with the Wii U rather than its mainstay.

When not using a Wii Remote in multiplayer, we also had the option of using the Wii U GamePad. The GamePad still relied on its built-in gyroscope for controls, but this was just as, if not more, responsive than the Wii Remote. Rather than splitting the screen when playing with two players, this instead takes a page from the book of Call of Duty: Black Ops II and allows one racer to play entirely on the GamePad. Looking at the small screen while tilting it to move felt natural, indicating that SEGA has truly optimized this one for Nintendo’s newest console.

As can be expected, the game is full of whimsical music and all of the character sounds that we’re so familiar with. Unfortunately, the same quality wasn’t as obvious in the graphical department. The environments that we saw were absolutely gorgeous, full of detail and vibrant colors. The character models were a different story though. Mario, Sonic, and all of their pals were cursed with jagged edges that stood out against the white snowy backdrops. There was also a bizarre lack of animation in the characters’ heads, resulting in faces that were frozen in nightmarish smiles. Truly terrifying stuff.

Aesthetic flaws aside, Mario & Sonic at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games is shaping up to be a strong entry in the series. The gameplay that we experienced was limited, but solid, and it’s apparent that the Wii U’s technology is being put to good use. Only time will tell if the necessary changes are being made to get this one as close to perfection as possible, but for now it should definitely pique the interest of series fans, or those of you who just like a good old fashioned mini-game collection.

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User Comments (38)

Silent

#1

Silent said:

I dont know why but I dont see an improvement in visuals. Maybe they are not using the HD at its fullest?

jrob23

#2

jrob23 said:

they seriously need to make this as graphically impressive as possible. This is a 1st party game and needs to have a higher standard. It sounds like they are close. If they want my money I want a flawless experience. Hopefully the finished product will deliver

NintyMan

#4

NintyMan said:

The character graphics will more than likely be smoothed out and improved as time passes. The screenshots of the game still look good, and really good considering the quality of past Mario & Sonic games. This game isn't a done deal for me, but I'll keep an eye on it.

Captain_Toad

#5

Captain_Toad said:

@DestinyMan I sure hope so, even in the trailer they're faces aren't showing much expression. Someone needs to work on that ASAP. Otherwise I'm going to be looking at sonic unchanged frowny face for this game.

leon_x

#6

leon_x said:

I do not like when the wii u gamepad is used only as a map or support (New Super Mario Bros U). Nintendo should use the second screens for the fifth character, especially in multiplayer games (mario kart u, smash bros u, pikmin, this game, and FPS!)

Guitardude7

#7

Guitardude7 said:

Really? the character models looked bad? I thought they looked excellent. Guess you have to be there. But now I do notice the lack of facial expressions and its quite unsettling.

Cyberbotv2

#9

Cyberbotv2 said:

Good to hear that Gamepad is being put to use. And an increase in Wiimote sensor capability suddenly makes what might be a nice game with a regular controller a more interesting possible purchase.

Goginho

#10

Goginho said:

I never really noticed any 'jaggies' to be honest. Maybe a little. I guess if you look closely, it's noticable on Mario's cap a bit and the very bottom of his overalls. DK also doesn't look as good as from Tropical Freeze. Other than that, I think the game is fine graphically. I DID notice, however, during some trailers and gameplay the lack of facial animations, awkward gestures and body language, which results in the characters appearing expressionless and unnaturally stiff at times. It's quite a bummer considering it's a sports game, where different facial expressions and emotions are important and should be apparent.

@leon_x I agree on that. Ever since the Gamepad was announced, I imagined a full 5-player local mutliplayer experience (not like Boost mode from NSMB U) ..especially with games like Mario Kart.

Mochlum

#11

Mochlum said:

This game will be pretty helpful to the Wii U, considering we're probably gonna see a lot of advertising during the Winter Olympics themselves. I think it looks decent, and I'm really hoping for online.

AVahne

#13

AVahne said:

Huh, to me the models look decent enough while the environments look plain and ugly.

unrandomsam

#14

unrandomsam said:

@jrob23 It is made by Sega as far as I know that is not first party. (Same as the Camelot Mario Sports games are not either). First party is internal Nintendo dev teams.

DualWielding

#15

DualWielding said:

@unrandomsam, yah it is considered a third party game, and it's counted as one of the three sega exclusives along Sonic Lost World and the mystery tittle

sinalefa

#17

sinalefa said:

@Goginho

Have you tried Sonic Racing Transformed on Wii U? That does use the Gamepad to accomodate up to 5 players in splitscreen. It is also great to have a friend over and not splitting the screen when two players are racing, kinda like Black Ops 2 does.

Goginho

#18

Goginho said:

@sinalefa No, I only played the demo on the 3DS.
Wow, I never knew that. It's great that it has that, and I hope more games in the future would as well, since that would prove for some really fun gameplay.

jrob23

#19

jrob23 said:

@ferthepoet they have an exclusive partnership for I believe 3 games (this, Lost World, ???) and anytime Nintendo characters i.e. Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach, etc are used I consider it akin to 1st party. I know there is a distinction but I think when those are used, it needs to be up to Nintendo 1st party standards. I imagine it will be.

Metal_Slugger

#20

Metal_Slugger said:

The graphics are doable certainly miles better than wii sports. I agree the environments could use some spicing up.

kereke12

#21

kereke12 said:

Looks awesome, the graphics look good people complain about everything. I think Sega and Nintendo did a good job on the game.

RawkHawk013

#22

RawkHawk013 said:

I'll keep an eye on this game, played the first M & S Olympic Games for Wii and had a great time with it.

Rockalot

#25

Rockalot said:

Really surprised by everyone's reactions to the graphics. I was actually shocked. The game looks fantastic to me!

FJOJR

#27

FJOJR said:

The hockey in 2010 was the best event. I hope they have built upon that a bit more and added difficulty and longer time options.

willobee

#28

willobee said:

This impressions says how he wiimotes seem to have improved responsiveness... isn't this because wii motion plus is used in this game?

Dpullam

#29

Dpullam said:

I'd certainly consider buying this game if it received enough praise. I liked what I played of the Mario & Sonic 2012 Olympic Games demo for the 3DS, but this game has even more interesting events to participate in. Count me as intrigued.

Sleepingmudkip

#30

Sleepingmudkip said:

why is everyone so upset at the HD there still making it or finishing it it will look better when playing it

Kirk

#32

Kirk said:

The character models don't look jaggy in those screens.

In fact, in those screenshots the graphics in general look really nice.

Marshi

#33

Marshi said:

@rennandovale I wouldnt call that trolling dude. Think the guy was saying maybe the wiius graphics are not being used to its fullest as it should

GreatPlayer

#34

GreatPlayer said:

The graphics are fine for me. I have already got past game graphics but focused on the gameplay.

retro_player_22

#35

retro_player_22 said:

You would think that with collaboration between Nintendo and Sega would mean a new F-Zero HD but nope, just another Mario & Sonic Olympic game. Heck two of those times spent making these four Mario & Sonic Olympic games would had easily be spent making an awesome F-Zero entry for Wii & Wii U instead.

DualWielding

#36

DualWielding said:

@JaxonH

Maybe, of course I don't know what exactly the deal between Nintendo and Sega is for this game but, for example, Sega had nothing to do with SSB except signing a paper authorizing Nintendo to put Sony in the game, I am under the impression that here is the opposite, Nintendo sign a paper authorizing sega to put its characters in their game and probably gets some royalty on the sales but I'm not sure if Nintendo has any say in the development of the game or the power to exercise quality control over it

retro_player_22

#38

retro_player_22 said:

@willobee
And that's what ruins gaming nowadays, the gaming library is full of milked titles and no variety. Whereas we only get one new Mario Kart & one new Mario RPG per gen, somehow we can get multiple sequels of Wii line party games and Mario & Sonic Olympic Games? I had nothing against casual mini-game titles but there are one too many of them already (Nintendoland, Game and Wario, Wii U Sports, Wii Party U, etc.).

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