Review

Mario & Sonic at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games Review

  • Game release: November 1, 2013
  • Reviewed:
  • WIIU

No business like snow business.

by

The Mario & Sonic series has always, and perhaps bizarrely, mixed accessible minigames, topical sporting events, and gaming nostalgia. It's an odd but enduring mix, one that's given us Charmy Bee cameos in a stylised re-creation of England's capital city for London 2012, but sadly the mascot duo's fourth outing falls flat.

In Mario & Sonic's first outing on the Wii U, developer Sega starts with a major change for the series: Mario & Sonic at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games demands that you make use of the Wii MotionPlus across its collection of 20 Nintendo and Sega characters and 25-odd minigames. The hardware boost ensures an extra degree of controller fidelity in new and returning Olympic events including skiing, figure skating, and curling. And while the move creates an additional expense for families with only a few regular Wii Remotes kicking around, the MotionPlus helps bring a touch of finesse to a previously waggle-intensive series.

Don't worry: the Shy Guy is wearing a protective mask.

It's the forced addition of the GamePad that serves to complicate matters, shifting the series away from its simplistic roots. At best you've just got to explain each individual mechanic to a group all holding different configurations of controllers, but at worst you've got to contend with groups of irate children arguing over why one gets to have a GamePad and the others don't.

The GamePad is incorporated in various ways, and like with many aspects of the Mario & Sonic series, there are both ups and downs. Biathlon, a new event for 2014, mixes cross-country skiing on the Wii Remote with a shooting range, letting the player at the top of the pack shoot via the GamePad while forcing others to use the more complicated Wii Remote. It's a sporting event that hasn't been well translated into a party game, suffering too much from the fact that it's the person who's already ahead that gets placed in the most advantageous situation.

Bobsleigh is another example of an event that's complicated by the GamePad's involvement, only one that's far more endearingly preposterous. The leader steers the vehicle with the GamePad while barking orders at up to three other players, who lean their Wii Remotes to the left or right to help steer around corners. Sitting cross-legged in a row on the floor isn't required, but it does make this event a lot more fun.

Snowboard slopestyle, meanwhile, has you take turns to get the highest score on a downhill run, with points awarded for speed, jumps, and grinds. You steer with the GamePad, and flick the touchscreen to perform tricks. It's simple but fun, and is pleasantly different from the more traditional downhill skiing.

Many returning events are identical to their previous incarnations, though some have been spruced up a bit. Hockey, a particularly drab addition in Mario & Sonic's last wintry sojourn, fills in the hole left by the absence of soccer and beach volleyball, now functioning as a kind of cut-down NHL that has you darting around a tiny rink making chaotic overpowered shots while a Shy Guy sits in goal at each end. It's a lot more fun than you'd expect from such a rudimentary implementation, but it's also hard to imagine it being something you'd want to play multiple times.

Figure skating pairs easily takes the crown for the barmiest minigame. Two players are judged on synchronising their movements, and while you're each allowed to hold a Wii Remote, it's when you play together by holding hands around a single controller that the real silliness kicks in. Having one player clumsily spin around the other in real life while an onscreen Daisy pirouettes elegantly around Dr Eggman is enough to put a smile on anyone's face, although you might need to encourage your immediate friends and family members to finish a glass of wine before joining in.

There are highlights, then, but too many events prove to be a disappointment. I've always found it particularly difficult to feel anything but boredom for this series' ski jumping and speed skating modes, and the downhill slide offered by skeleton is handled with more panache by skiing and snowboarding. But it's Sochi 2014's Dream Events that are especially lacking, with the series' former fantastical twists now reduced to half-baked spins of preexisting events wrapped loosely in the aesthetics of the Sonic or Mario series. Snowball scrimmage is the worst of the lot; it's a crude third-person two-versus-two battle with flat snowball-firing guns.

The Mario & Sonic series has been an inclusive experience, catering to all players of all skill levels, but Sochi 2014 complicates that simplicity.

Developer Sega attempts to add value with a flurry of other modes, with Legends Showdown acting as the game's campaign. As opposed to the technically involved London Party board game of London 2012, Legends Showdown simply peppers a cluster of events with the odd cutscene, as a quartet of characters face off against shadow versions of themselves. Each area is capped off with a boss battle against one of the Sonic or Mario series' more obscure characters, including E-102 Gamma, Birdo, and Jet the Hawk. The mode is completely dull.

Medley Mania is similar to Legends Showdown, but presents clusters of events without any narrative context, and Action & Answer Tour mixes individual events with a quiz show . You must complete various feats during randomised events, such as exposing a picture hidden in smoke with curling stones. It's the most successful additional mode in the game by a country mile, forcing you to keep a little something extra buzzing around your head while competing.

It's unlikely you'll ever be this delighted when playing the game.

The game also adds online competition to the series for the first time, but only via four events: Olympic events freestyle ski cross, snowboard cross, and short track speed skating, alongside multi-vehicle Dream Event winter sports champion race. You can be matched into games alongside strangers or people from your friends list, and online multiplayer is tied together with a national metagame. Winning points in an event goes towards a ranking for your country, with the game displaying the national rankings on the main screen and also via in-game updates on the GamePad.

The Mario & Sonic series has been an inclusive experience, catering to all players of all skill levels, but Sochi 2014 complicates that simplicity. The game's long-winded tutorials have a wearying effect, and the most enjoyable events--which are the simplest, coincidentally--are essentially identical to events from previous years. There are dribs of fun to be extracted from the overall package, but from the outset, it's hard to shake the feeling that this is a series that has now thoroughly outstayed its welcome.

The Mario & Sonic series is the perfect example of the kind of charming, bite-sized, and all-inclusive entertainment that defined Nintendo throughout the Wii's golden years, but a lack of creativity and a poor implementation of the Wii U GamePad ensure that Mario & Sonic's fourth outing in six years fails to secure a podium finish.

The Good
A wide selection of modes and events
The Bad
Tutorials go on for way too long
Many events just aren't fun
GamePad doesn't add much
5
Mediocre
About GameSpot's Reviews

About the Author

/ Staff

Martin Gaston has been known to enjoy a good collection of minigames late on a Friday night, and as a child loved Sonic the Hedgehog more than life itself. He played this latest collection of Olympic Winter games for 10 hours, forcing friends and coworkers to join in.

Discussion

141 comments
disneyskate
disneyskate

Even though I don't much like it, I'm looking forward to playing it with the 2 little girls in my neighbor hood when they come over.

disneyskate
disneyskate

Didn't even comment on the beautiful visuals. Everything else is spot on.

Nintyfan95
Nintyfan95

No valid reasons why the game is medicore, instead is biased, and based on his preference. 

xolivierx
xolivierx

another great game for the WiiU
makes everybody want to have a WiiU, for sure!

lordtidus12
lordtidus12

oh gamespot isn't biased against nintendo games at all /end sarcasm

Willie_Dynamite
Willie_Dynamite

Hmm I have a feeling Sega is trying to sabotage Nintendo...

But in all seriousness, another miss for Sega according to Gamespot..

Arther-la-Blunt
Arther-la-Blunt

With a 5 rating it's still better than the Winter Olympics! Bam! Winter Olympics SLAM!

shadowboy88
shadowboy88

5/10!???? IT'S THAT FUCKING BLUE HEDGEHOG'S FAULT!!! CURSE YOU!!

HonorOfGod
HonorOfGod

... Iwata please leave Nintendo alone.

b74kd3th
b74kd3th

You make a shit system, you get shit games

The_Gaming_Baby
The_Gaming_Baby

Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games wasn't very good either. This low score comes as no surprise

sakaixx
sakaixx

1st party games from nintendo scored below 7.5 . . . GOD WHAT IS THIS WORLD TURNING INTO !!?!

Kjranu
Kjranu

Nintendo bombs a party game? Oh the end times is coming... 

ewjiml
ewjiml

Why does Nintendo make these types of games?  The world may never know....

XboxGuy1537
XboxGuy1537

This is one of those games that's fun to play with friends. This review is probably spot on, but I'll still probably pick this up in the bargain bin soon.

superbuuman
superbuuman

Ouch!, didn't look great when they show it...have a feeling Wii Party U will get around the same score. :P

Xristophoros
Xristophoros

so that makes it two duds in a row for sega (the other being sonic lost world). just because you plaster sonic and mario on a box doesn't mean it will turn into gold and fortune. stop with the gimmicky cash ins already. 

Fartman7998
Fartman7998


And still they wonder why the Wii U isn't selling.  Personally I love my Zelda edition Wii U, and I look forward to having some decent games come out for it, but honestly THIS crap isn't helping Nintendo at all.  Oh well, at least the Wii U has Virtual Console and stuff.  I just really wish they'd release another Zelda game that's on par with Ocarina of Time.  Oh dear, I'm rambling...Nintendo, why are you doing this to us? 

jinzo9988
jinzo9988

The reviewer doesn't have the same opinion I do... therefore, the whole site sucks.  Rabble rabble rabble.

Am I doing it right?

ohjtbehaaave
ohjtbehaaave

There's a $60 version of this game bundled with a Wii Remote Plus controller.  That's why I'll probably still get it.  And ya know…. CURLING!!!  Awesome.

DocSanchez
DocSanchez

Lots of whinging about this one.


Look, just because it's got Mario in it does not mean it is entitled to a high score. Stop being so upset and grow up.

DiverseGamer
DiverseGamer

Why do they keep making these LAME LAME games!?

darkwarriorx7
darkwarriorx7

why nintedo don't pay lamespot, for good reviews just like EA in battlefield 4

Thesuperstar2k
Thesuperstar2k

Yep. Didn't know that they released this game, and it is same type of game similar of 2010 which it gets really old, and easy.. Only fits to little kids who like this game tbh. 

disneyskate
disneyskate

No, he perfectly explains his reasoning, you just can't accept that he has an honest opinion.

disneyskate
disneyskate

Which is why Super Mario 3D World and Zelda: A Link Between Worlds got damn near perfect scores, right? You just can't accept someone else's opinions.

Simsyas
Simsyas

@shadowboy88 Calm down Shadow. You already shot Sonic in the back of the head, remember?

19James89
19James89

@sakaixx It's not first party. The game is a third party game made by Sega and published by Nintendo.

19James89
19James89

@superbuuman It's Gamespot,so why are you surprised? They'll be giving Super Mario 3D World a 2/10 no doubt.

HonorOfGod
HonorOfGod

@MatthewSnyder86 He needs a better vibe.. like a more awesome style ..I believe one of his movies (Sonic the Hedgehog: The Movie, a 90s film)  has that style and looks and feels amazing but these games make sonic look stiff, slow and lame.


Simply making his game like mario galaxy was a horrid idea and like Resident evil and many other series they are killing everything by making things crap.

Chaos_Dante_456
Chaos_Dante_456

@jinzo9988 You forgot them for to accuse them of being paid by Sony and Microsoft to write bad reviews for Nintendo games

quickshooterMk2
quickshooterMk2

A 3/5=6/10 with actual in depth review 

learn from them noobspot 

b74kd3th
b74kd3th

Looking at the sales charts for these games, not really

disneyskate
disneyskate

lol. You're just as pathetic as all the raging fanboys.

superbuuman
superbuuman

@19James89 lol..nah Mario 3D world will get an 8 ..hehehe.. I'd be surprise if they give higher. :P

b74kd3th
b74kd3th

Oh please, it will get a crap score because it's a port.

disneyskate
disneyskate

Dude, just because the game isn't that good doesn't mean Sonic's attitude isn't spot on. Lost World has hilarious cutscenes.

sirapathetic01
sirapathetic01

@shadowboy88 He only knows how to flame everything Nintendo and everyone who disagrees with him. Using Google is too advanced for him.

shadowboy88
shadowboy88

@b74kd3th yes they do..do an actual search, for the life of me i have no idea why these games sell but they do

sirapathetic01
sirapathetic01

@b74kd3th A port?...Please, just be quiet. Please.

b74kd3th
b74kd3th

It's the same game with add ons

Mario & Sonic at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games More Info

First Release on Nov 01, 2013
  • Wii U
Join Mario and Sonic and the rest of your favorite characters as they team up and compete in events at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games.
8
Average User RatingOut of 13 User Ratings
Please Sign In to rate Mario & Sonic at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games
Developed by:
Nintendo
Published by:
Nintendo
Genres:
Sports
Content is generally suitable for all ages. May contain minimal cartoon, fantasy or mild violence and/or infrequent use of mild language.
Everyone
All Platforms