N+ Review: Mario & Sonic Winter Olympics DS
By AntonCaptainSeagull. Monday, October 19, 2009 11:50:00 AM
The last Winter Olympic game I played was Nagano Winter Olympics 1998 for Nintendo 64 and it was pretty sweet, albeit very limited in tracks and controls. But this is 2009 and on the DS. We also have Sonic and Mario as guides to this years festivities, not your average people. Ready? OK, lets go!
At first glance you will notice that the menus are not overtly Sonic style or Mario style - they mixed the interface styles up so well you quickly forget who developed the game. Sonic and Mario may have been the world's greatest rivals, but now that they are pals, they look the the part. Chao and Toad in the same world is perfectly natural. The greatest thing about these menus (other than the style) is the effectiveness. You are not stuck too long reading dialogue or selecting from endless menus: you get to find what you want to do and go for it. Let's start off with the Adventure Mode.
Adventure Mode, of course, starts off with a simple and insane plot idea: Bowser and Eggman are both angry that they aren't invited to the Winter Games, so Bowser burns up the snow, and Eggman captures the Frost Spirits (which are responsible for the world's snow), leaving just one behind ... yeah, it's crazy, but it just might work. Anywaym Sonic and Mario show up just after the catastrophe (as usual) and learn about it from the remaining Frost Spirit. They travel to Frostown and meet up with a bunch of Toads and a bunch of Chao who are ready to help them out. Frosty, the Frost Spirit they are with, brings snow back to Frostown but warns that he can't make any more anywhere else, without his friends help. You start your adventure looking for sports equipment that will help you overcome events which reward you with tools to proceed through the map. The map is a lot like the maps found in Pokemon Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum: 3D world with a tilted birds eye view, and you control your character just like in Animal Crossing: Wild World, either by stylus or D-Pad. It's a free roaming game, so you can run wherever you want as any character that is currently in your party. You also run into bosses, who, you guessed it, are absolute Olympic freaks and challenge you to Olympic-event showdowns, and in exchange will let you progress through the story. Insane plot? Yes. Brilliant idea? Yes, somehow this crazy plot is enough to make you continue through all the challenges and hunt down the baddies to bring snow, winter, and the Olympics back to the world! And just as a side note, Chao and Toad should be best friends in every game from now on.
OK, I don't want to give all of the fun away for you; spoiling the plot is not what this review is about. So, next we are going to jump into the Single Match (Quick Play) mode. Basically, you just pick your Olympic Event or Dream Event (more Dream Events can be unlocked through Adventure Mode), then the specific event settings. For instance, Skating lets you choose Speed Skating 500m, Short Track 500m, or Figure Skating. It also lets you choose the weather if it's an outside event. Next is your character. They all have different skill sets so choose wisely - although for Figure Skating why WOULDN'T anyone choose Waluigi? Just before starting the event you are given the options to start the event, learn the controls, or practice, which is good because some events control very strange, like Alpine Skiing, which uses just the stylus to steer and speed up. A button or stylus control configuration option would be appreciated, but most events do control pretty nicely.
The next mode is a Multi Round Match, where you can choose between 3, 4, or 5 rounds of any events to compete for an overall standing. Other than that, though, it's pretty much the same courses as the quick play courses, with no variant in anything besides play style and different records for the game to keep track of. Really a missed opportunity to squeeze in a few extra tracks for events.
The game keeps track of your records, which is a no-brainer in an Olympic game. It also includes a ghost of your best times so you can race the ghost in the Ghost mode, a feature designed to help improve your times. My favorite event? Bobsleigh. Drop a couple of heavies in the thing and try to steer that death machine down the pipes! Go DK and Bowser Go! You can connect to the WiFi Connection to compare your stats in any specific event with local players, top players, or friends. It's a nice feature to have and even gives you your ranking number. By the way, you get an Emblem just for connecting to WiFi - just a little hint.
With plenty of collectibles scattered through the game, it's clearly designed to keep you playing in all the different modes. The Emblems are unlocked a lot like the Gallery in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, with one showing up and the two windows next to it giving you a hint how to open them to claim another emblem. Emblems can be used to represent your character. Medals can also be viewed to remind you which events you need to do better in, or still need to compete in alogether! One neat "item" you can collect is the "Olympic Triva" leaves. They give you cool little factoids about how the Olympics got started, who won the most medals in a Winter Games competition, and crazy ones like "Who's Miga?". The last collectible is Olympic Memorabilia, sweet little figures you collect as trinkets to represent a specific Winter Olympic year.
I haven't had a chance to try out Multiplayer mode yet. It's a sad realization that night shift workers must face: you just don't see many people any more . However what I can tell you is that there are both Multi-Card and Download-Play options to choose from, so if your buddies don't own it, they can still get a good Olympic run with you.
Game: Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games
Developed by: Sega of Japan
Players: 1-4 Multi or Single Card
Rating:ERSB - E for Everyone
Supports WFC: Yes
N+ Music is top quality
N+ Graphics run smooth and look great on DS
N+ Perfect blend of Nintendo and Sega style throughout interface
N+ Great selection of Winter Sports + Dream Events
N+ Great character selection
N+ Adventure mode is freakin' rad
N+ Single Card multi-player always a plus
N+ Good Options Menu
N+ Plenty of things to collect
N- Most character voices sound terrible.
N- Limited controls
N- Limited tracks
N- WiFi doesn't support gameplay, only records
- Anton Socha, Writer