The Mario & Sonic titles have begun waning in their unique attempts to convince the public that they can produce something original, but that doesn’t mean Nintendo is about to stop trying. The success of the franchise has been phenomenal to this point and even if the decline in popularity continues a new instalment is still a significant enough force at retail that other family orientated titles should be worried about launching in its wake. Mario & Sonic at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games is this next title, and on Wii U it looks set to replicate the formula of the popular Wii iterations.
Mario & Sonic at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games uses the Wii U GamePad in a fashion that many other titles shy away from. Three events were playable in the preview build made available to Electronic Theatre: Bobsleigh, Snowboarding, and Winter Sports Champion Race. The latter of these three incorporated a series of different techniques switched on the fly (selected by passing through gates) with all different disciplines racing on the same track. Different terrain benefited different disciplines, and so it was to the player’s advantage to find the best route through the varied, twisting downhill course.
Snowboarding is the most accessible of the three challenges. Using the GamePad’s motion-control capability to steer, jump and land players can initiate boosts for precise and appropriate angling between takeoff and landing. Once having got to grips with the basic control it’s easy to pick up and maintain some speed, with hectic tussles between players occurring as they dart back-and-forth across the course in order to hit each jump and the perfect angle.
The Bobsleigh event is less immediate with what at first seems like an awkward interpretation, however before even your first race is over it’s easy to determine why the development saw fit to follow this path. Players will focus on the GamePad screen which depicts the course from a first-person perspective. The shoulder buttons are used to lean around corners and the track is littered with speed boosts that not only help your final time but also offer hints as to the appropriate racing line.
This taste of Mario & Sonic at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games proved that, despite waning interest in the franchise, Nintendo are still keen to promote the values of the original title on new hardware. Mario & Sonic at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games is designed for multiplayer gaming between families of all ages, and in that the franchise will always find an audience. Whether or not Mario & Sonic at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games can achieve the success of the earlier instalments remains to be seen, but in the unique delivery of new events it’s certainly going about things in the right way.