A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know Mario & Sonic at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games is a collection of both realistic and fantastical sporting events set in and around a cartoonish version of the Sochi 2014 Games. There's virtually no iffy content, save a short snowball mini-game that has players shooting white balls from a gun (no characters are ever seriously hurt). The game could serve as an introduction to the Winter Olympics, teaching kids about specific events such as figure skating, curling, and skiing while also fostering an interest in sports in general.
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What's it about?
As with previous entries in Nintendo and Sega's sports-themed union of their respective video game icons, MARIO & SONIC AT THE SOCHI 2014 OLYMPIC WINTER GAMES blends simple simulations of real sports with fantastical \"dream\" events you're not likely ever to see at the real Olympics. The game features some 20 recognizable characters from the Mario and Sonic universes showing up to act as competitors. The real (yet still very cartoonish) sports include various hockey, figure-skating, speed-skating, bobsledding, skiing, ski-jumping, curling, and snowboarding competitions. Dream events, meanwhile, are a mix of fantastical takes on real events -- such as hockey played on crazy rinks with weird rules -- and completely made-up Olympic sports, like a snowball competition.
The way kids choose to experience these sports is largely up to them. They can tackle them individually, work through themed medleys, or try all of them back to back in an Olympic competition mode called Legendary Showdown. There's also a whimsical game-show-style mode in which players are given special objectives, such as trying to spot a character statue along a snowboarding run. Up to four people can play, but some sports require that players take turns rather than compete at the same time.
Is it any good?
You'd think it nearly impossible for a game combining two such beloved icons to go wrong, but Mario & Sonic at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games is a bit of a mess. For example, if you start playing the primary mode -- Legendary Showdown -- first, you'll be thrown headlong into each event with barely any instruction. Controls can be found within the options menu and on-screen in certain events, but they're often confusing, thanks largely to animated illustrations that don't accurately reflect the movement required or poor visual indications as to when players need to perform a swipe or a wag of the Wii Remote. Plus, players frequently need to switch between the Wii U GamePad and Wii Remote -- sometimes, as in the case of the biathlon, even in the same event. It's inelegant and confusing.
The game looks great, though, and it features a lot of sports, some of which are reasonably intuitive and can be quite entertaining -- such as the fast-paced, trick-filled snowboarding events and the Bullet Bill Sledge Race (which feels like a Star Wars pod race). But, on the whole, Mario & Sonic at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games is too disorganized and convoluted to stack up favorably against other games in the Mario & Sonic Olympics series.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the Olympic Winter Games. Do you like them more or less than the Summer Games? Have you tried any of the official sports? Which are your favorites?
Families also can discuss the ongoing union of the Mario and Sonic franchises in Olympics-themed games. Do you think these two series, once deeply competitive, are a good fit? Are you a greater fan of one than the other? Do their heroes and villains mesh well together in teams?
- Platforms: Nintendo Wii U
- Subjects: Hobbies: sports
- Skills: Collaboration: cooperation, meeting challenges together
Communication: friendship building
Health & Fitness: fitness, movement
- Price: $49.99
- Available online? Not available online
- Developer: Nintendo
- Release date: November 17, 2013
- Genre: Sports
- ESRB rating: E for Mild Cartoon Violence
- Last updated: November 11, 2020
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