previews\ Jun 1, 2009 at 8:00 pm

Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games - WII - Preview

E3 2009 PreviewE3 2008 GameZone Previews

Few could imagine the day when Mario, the plumber powerhouse from Nintendo, and Sonic, the hedgehog hit that’s worth more than a hedge fund, would join forces for the sake of the Olympic Games. After all, these two were once rivals – not in the villainous sense but in the number of copies sold at retail. Is it really possible for Nintendo and Sega’s big players to play nice?

As it turns out, the answer is a resounding yes. Mario and Sonic at the Summer Olympic Games delivered the action-driven, mini-game-filled fun that so many Wii owners crave. Now, less than two years later, the unlikely duo is at it again, this time for the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Canada.

The artwork is pretty impressive. Mario looks nearly as good as he did in Super Mario Galaxy, complete with a fully-rendered exterior, bright details and quality animations that only a few developers can deliver. His and other character models had some jagged edges, but they’re likely to be ironed out before the game ships.

Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games screenshots

Sonic, meanwhile, looks better than ever – his appearance in this game might be his most impressive yet. Both characters are finally inching closer to the effects of a CG cartoon, which is a huge improvement over their former (often blocky and/or pixelated) selves.

With little info revealed before E3, it was great to see that the game was fully playable. Three sports were offered, Speed Skating, Bobsleigh and Downhill Skiing. Each could be played with Mario, Sonic, Yoshi, Peach, Knuckles, Amy, Luigi, and Tails. More characters are expected to be added to the final game, though Sega wouldn’t say who at this point.

Downhill Skiing was the most eventful of the three sports, incorporating the Wii remote and Nunchuk motion functionality to create a cool and exciting mini-game. With just one speed boost to help you in a jam, you’re forced to rely on your skiing skills to reach the end of the hill. Of course, the game is built for everyone, so your skills don’t need to match that of a real athlete. Good balance never hurt though.

Likewise, the Bobsleigh event is all about speed and balance. Only the single-player version was present, but Sega has informed us that the final version will allow four players to ride a bobsled together. Then everyone must have balance (lean from side to side) in unison!

Last but not least there’s Speed Skating. This one only uses the Wii remote (Bobsleigh does as well, actually). To skate, shake the remote sharply left or right, depending on the icon that appears on screen. If you time it correctly, you can get a flow going and skate really fast.

Hitting the slopes in time for the Vancouver games in 2010, Mario and Sonic at the Winter Olympic Games should be everything fans of the original could hope for.


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