Mario & Sonic at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games

Common Sense Media says

Middling but kid-safe sports game with some tricky controls.

Age

2
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5
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8
9
10
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17

Quality(i)

 

Learning(i)

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Though very cartoonish, this game could foster an interest in some legitimate winter sports, from hockey to snowboarding. Plus, some of the games result in mild physical activity involving brisk arm movements. Local multiplayer mode with friends can make for a good social-gaming experience.

Positive role models

The 20 or so familiar Mario and Sonic characters here are a mix of good guys and bad, and they all emote as you'd expect upon winning or losing. None is a particularly bad sport, even among the traditionally evil characters such as Bowser and Eggman.

Ease of play

Computer-controlled competitors are generally pretty easy to beat on normal difficulty, but some games have surprisingly complex motion controls that aren't always well explained within the tutorials or through on-screen cues.   

Violence & scariness

One of the mini-games is a snowball fight that involves a snowball gun. The snowballs don't really hurt characters, but they can be knocked down and will eventually disappear and respawn back at the start.

Language
Not applicable
Consumerism

This game is part of Nintendo's extremely popular Mario franchise and Sega's famous Sonic series, both of which have spin-off products including toys and books. It's also a tie-in with the Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.

Privacy & safety

Mild privacy and safety concerns. Players can play quick, one-off events against random strangers online, but they cannot chat, text, or otherwise exchange any sort of information with them.

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.

What kids can learn

Subjects

Hobbies

  • sports

Skills

Communication

  • friendship building

Collaboration

  • meeting challenges together
  • cooperation

Health & Fitness

  • fitness
  • movement

Engagement, Approach, Support

Engagement

The colorful and inviting graphics look great, but controls in many events can be confusing and off-putting. Plus, kids might not like waiting their turn in some events. 

Learning Approach

Players can learn about sports by participating in simple simulations that will give them a feel for their physics and rules. In multiplayer, they'll work through feelings associated with winning and losing.

Support

The game offers plenty of instruction, but it's not always great. Kids may need their parent's help to figure things out.

What kids can learn

Subjects

Hobbies

  • sports

Skills

Communication

  • friendship building

Collaboration

  • meeting challenges together
  • cooperation

Health & Fitness

  • fitness
  • movement

Kids can learn a bit about socializing and sporting activities in this simple simulation of the Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia. Players will learn about the kinds of physical movements required in sports they may not have tried, such as bobsledding and ski jumping. However, they may be turned off by the sometimes turn-based multiplayer events and frustrated by unclear instructions and demonstrations. Mario & Sonic at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games can teach kids a bit about sports they may not know, but it's not as engaging as one might hope.

This Learning Rating review was written by Chad Sapieha

Parents say

Kids say

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?

QUALITY
 

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.

Families can talk 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?

Game details

Platforms:Nintendo Wii U
Price:$49.99
Available online?Not available online
Developer:Nintendo
Release date:November 17, 2013
Genre:Sports
ESRB rating:E for Mild Cartoon Violence (Nintendo Wii U)

This review of Mario & Sonic at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Kid, 10 years old January 18, 2014
AGE
7
QUALITY
 
LEARNING

Not as good as I expected

This is a very hard and complicated game, I like the 2012 version better also, under 7's may find it confusing.
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
Kid, 8 years old May 23, 2014
AGE
4
QUALITY
 
LEARNING
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Teen, 13 years old Written bymkv2326 June 12, 2015
AGE
5
QUALITY
 
LEARNING

Ehh...

This game is hard to control and boring. It is not inappropriate, but it doesn't hold your attention for long.

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