Back in the days when I was growing up with commercial campaigns like “Sega does what Nintendon’t” and the like, it was hard to imagine the marriage of the two most iconic franchises for those companies, Mario and Sonic the Hedgehog. That all changed in 2007 when the first Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games title was announced. Ever since Sonic and Nintendo have had quite the relationship with an appearance in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, plus a return in the next installment, and the special partnership between the two that would bring us three Sonic related games exclusively for Nintendo platforms. The first of those came out only a couple weeks ago with Sonic: Lost World and now the second of those games has arrived with Mario & Sonic at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games.
This time around is the fourth entry in the Mario & Sonic at the Olympics franchise, the second one of which is based on the Winter Olympics. As a result of being the first game in the series on the Nintendo Wii U, the game had a lot of potential coming in with the use of the GamePad to compliment the Wii Remote Plus that was already used with the prior titles. Sadly, this was kind of a disappointment overall as the GamePad seemed to be underutilized for the most part. A lot of the events barely used it at all and it just ended up being sat on the coffee table in front of you while you used the Wii Remote.
The GamePad was used well enough in events such as the Bobsleigh where it was used as a steering wheel of sorts to guide yourself down the track. The Biathalon event mixes both the Wii Remote and the GamePad, but the usage is so slight as you pick it up to aim and shoot a few targets before putting it right back down. The players beyond player one even do the same thing, but with just the Wii Remote. It just felt tacked on so the GamePad wasn’t completely useless in the game considering the rest of the players just use the Wii Remote for the whole event, while player one uses both. The events that use exclusively the Wii Remote just feel like more of the same from past entries in the franchise, with occasional impreciseness.
The menus in the game are very easy to navigate as you get to choose between the different modes found in the game. Sadly you cannot navigate these with just the GamePad. The lack of off-TV play is expected due to the requirement of the Wii Remote in many of the events, but it would have been a nice addition considering the GamePad has nothing on it but explaining how to navigate the menus when actually going through the menus. Rather than just this pretty much useless information, it would have been really nice if the GamePad had been used to give more detailed information about events or game modes themselves.
One of the first things you will notice as you begin to play the game is that the game really does help to show off the power of the Wii U system. From the different settings seen, most of which revolve around the snow, the locations look beautiful and are a big improvement over past games in the series. The colors are very vibrant, which is exactly what you’d expect out of a Mario & Sonic title.
There are some quite fun events to play in the game with 10 Olympic Events and 8 Dream Events to choose between. You can have a good time with some of the Olympic Events such as Ice Hockey and Curling with friends. However, the main problem is a lack of overall depth in these with really only 10 completely different types of events, with a good majority of them controlling in almost the exact same way. Of course some events are limited by how they are in the actual Winter Olympics, but some of them just seem way too short.Mario & Sonic at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games Review,