Platform: Wii U
Developer: Sega Sports Japan
Released: November 15, 2013
With the Sochi 2014 Olympics less than two weeks away, now is a perfect time to take a look at the official video game for the 2014 Winter Olympics – Mario & Sonic at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games. Many of your favorite Nintendo characters have made it to the events taking place in Russia and they bring you their love! With online capabilities and an endless amount of fun ranging from hockey to snowboarding, what’s not to love about it?
There are many different events that players can participate in, each having a similar goal in many – reach the bottom of the slope faster than your opponents. The gameplay is simple – tilt the GamePad in the direction you want to go, just like steering a car. However, steering a car is much more simple and more precise. Many times when racing down the slope, the character would dart in a direction that the GamePad isn’t moving. Disappointing, especially since past Mario & Sonic games have been plagued by this same issue. I was expecting a huge improvement over the Wii versions, especially with the Motion Plus integration.
One of the most intriguing aspects of the game is curling. I really enjoyed using both the GamePad and Wii U Remote, in conjunction, to master the event. On the GamePad you can observe the lane and mark/prepare a plan of attack for sliding your stone down the lane. Then, with a slight flick of the wrist using the Remote, you let your stone sail down the lane and give it a slight shake to sweep the ice.
Sochi 2014 does have a single player mode called Legends Showdown. Unfortunately, there isn’t a story involved though. Instead, players are pitted against a shadow of themselves, expected to best their A.I. counterpart to move forward in the events. However, this was the most difficult single player mode to master. The game on easy was just that, easy. When the difficulty is increased, the A.I. never misses a beat and combine that with imprecise motion controls, you have a game that takes hours upon hours to best.In addition, the game is very repetitive and monotonous at times.
Fortunately, some fun can be experienced in the online multiplayer – a first for the series. The online multiplayer actually creates a sense of competitiveness around the globe. Your Mii character hops on a plane to attend the games and you are paired up with friends or people looking to compete. Whenever you earn a medal, you will earn points for you home country, raising the home country’s status on the leaderboards.
However, there are only 4 different events to play – Freestyle Ski Cross, Snowboard Cross, Short Track Speed Skating (1000m) and Winter Sports Champion Race. Unfortunately, voice communication and lobbies are missing from the game. Definitely can be tough to get a game started at times.
Mario & Sonic definitely had their work cut out for them to improve upon prior Mario & Sonic games. In this case, the game seems to be only a very slight improvement from the others. When controls are this cumbersome, playability suffers and it’s very easy to move on. The game does absolutely nothing to shine and stand out from its predecessors in any department other than graphics. However, graphics can only carry you so far.
Overall, the game feels broken in every aspect except for rink events which are played using the analog controls. Even though Sochi 2014 has some of the best online capabilities on the Wii U, the game suffers tremendously with the imprecise controls. Mario, Sonic, and the gang need to quit participating in the Olympic games and stick to watching them from home like the rest of us!