[The following review was provided by site member and main power source for the server GerbilSoft.]
Mario and Sonic are back at the Olympic Winter games, this time hosted in Sochi, Russia. Like the previous three installments, Mario & Sonic at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games is a mini-game collection based on Olympic events and various levels from the Mario and Sonic universes. How well does it compare to the previous outings?
Fairly well, even if it’s mostly the same as before with some improvements. To start off, I tried out the Dream Figure Skating event. This was one of the best events in the 2010 predecessor, so it made sense to start here.
Whereas 2010 Winter Games‘ Dream Figure Skating had a theme based on Sonic Adventure, 2014’s version is based on Sonic Colours, which features several levels from the game and even Planet Wisp’s boss. The minigame is played Much like its predecessor, players move the Wii Remote Plus in rhythm to the onscreen indicators to gain points. For those used to the controls from 2010 Winter Games, beware that using Motion Plus-enabled Wii remotes (which are required) can very easily throw you off, since it’s more accurate and can’t be fooled as easily.
The game’s utilization of the Wii U GamePad is a mixed result. For instance, Snowboard Parallel Giant Slalom forces Player 1 to use the GamePad while other players use Wii Remotes. The GamePad provides no real addition to the mini-game and might provide a disadvantage due to its large size. Another event, Biathlon, consists of two events: Cross-Country (which uses the Wii Remote Plus), and Shooting (which uses the GamePad). Use of the GamePad provides an advantage here, since you can zoom into the targets. However, players 2-4 are forced to use Wii Remote Pluses, so they’re at a disadvantage. Finally, in the main menu, there’s a “TV channel” mode, which provides statistics on completed challenges and records. It’s only displayed on the GamePad’s screen, when there is really no logical reason why it’s limited to it. Due to the mixed use of the GamePad, this game does not support the “Off TV” mode present in many Wii U titles.
Mario & Sonic 2014 has five main game modes: “Single Match”, “Medley Mania”, “Legends Showdown”, “Action & Answer Tour”, and “Worldwide VS”. “Single Match” is the bog-standard game mode where you can select a minigame to play. Nothing spectacular about that. “Worldwide VS” is the online play option, which will be discussed later.
“Legends Showdown” is similar to the “Festival Mode” found in Mario & Sonic 2010. You compete in each event one at a time against CPU characters, who consist of dark versions of the character you select (read: texture swap), and occasionally Miis from your Friends List and “rival” characters. (This mode doesn’t support online play, so the Miis that show up are merely CPUs.) It’s essentially a “play everything in a row” mode, which is somewhat interesting the first time around, but doesn’t really have much replay value.
“Medley Mania” is basically “build your own Grand Prix” (if this was Mario Kart). You can select from several predefined medleys, including Sonic-themed minigames and Mario-themed minigames, or create your own medley with a custom set of minigames.
“Action & Answer Tour” is similar to the trivia minigames featured in Mario & Sonic 2012, except instead of trivia about the Mario & Sonic series, the “trivia” consists of questions about the actual events that are played. For example, it might ask you which player is currently in first, or to determine the pattern of an object in the distance. Unfortunately, most of the events are short and fairly dull, and a regular trivia game like the one seen in Mario & Sonic 2012 would have probably been better.
M&S 2014 is the first title in the series to feature online play, available as “Worldwide VS” in the main menu. The game features support for playing with friends or anyone from the general Nintendo Network. Unfortunately, the online play is half-baked. Only four events are playable online, which is disappointing. Out of those four events, only one of them is a Dream Event, “Winter Sports Champion Race”, which is unlike the other Dream Events in that it isn’t set in a Mario or Sonic level at all.
Last but not least, there’s the music. Every M&S game has tons of remixes of game music, and Mario & Sonic 2014 is no exception. Included in the game are some classics, such as Flying Battery Zone, along with some brand new GBA remixes, such as Neo Green Hill and Route 99. The GBA remixes in particular sound really good in comparison to the original games, but given the GBA’s sound hardware (or lack thereof), that shouldn’t be too surprising.
Final details: Graphical presentation of Mario & Sonic 2014 is basically what can be expected from a current Sega or Nintendo game. Framerate appears to be a consistent 60 fps, and there’s no noticeable graphical glitches.
Mario & Sonic 2014 continues the franchise’s trend of putting out fairly good party games, especially for fans of both the Mario & Sonic series.
[A copy of Mario & Sonic 2014 was purchased by GerbilSoft for this review.]