Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games
Mario and Sonic's DS game scores the gold, with great multiplayer options and a whole bunch of activities.
After playing through the slightly average Wii version, we were eager to see how the Nintendo DS edition of Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games would fare. Would it suffer the same fate as its console brethren, or stand out as a true Olympic effort? Good news, it's the latter.
Adventure Mode is the best part of this outstanding game. You're pitted against both Dr. Robotnik and Bowser, who combine their efforts to melt all the snow in Vancouver and capture the Snow Spirits. Without them, the Olympic Winter Games can't commence. Mario and Sonic must make their way through the city, facing boss challenges while also interacting with friendly characters, including Knuckles, Toad, a few Chaos and more.
For the most part, this mode's a blast. You'll play through a number of Olympic and Dream events as the storyline progresses, finding a few surprises along the way. The only downside is that the character voices repeat every time you move to the next piece of text. That's something we could've done without.
If the story isn't your thing, you can move right into the Olympic and Dream events. Twenty-seven activities are available, including the downhill luge, skiing, snowboarding and more. The Dream events are cool, adding Mario Kart-esque multiplayer elements (projectiles) to traditional events.
In addition, you can compete against others, both through leaderboards and direct play. Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games has the best single-cartridge multiplayer we've seen since Mario Kart DS. Up to four players can download event match-ups from one single cartridge, and it doesn't take longer than a minute. If you have multiple cartridges, that's even better, as the set-up moves a little bit quicker. Finally, if leaderboards are your thing, Mario & Sonic supports online rankings through the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection. Just make sure you play with friends, since the computer wavers between master Olympian and downhill dunce.
Presentation-wise, Mario & Sonic deserves high marks. The graphics look great for a DS effort, no matter which event you're playing. You always have a clear view of the course, whether you're racing down the luge at top speed or cruising through the gates in slalom skiing. The personality-filled animation is cute (as it always is in a Mario/Sonic game), and the music is good, but not amazing.
Then we've got the gameplay, and here's where Mario & Sonic shines. Most of the events are an absolute delight to play on the DS, between all the button presses and d-pad movements. Even the smaller events, like curling and speed skating, are better than you'd think. However, the few events that use the touch-screen and stylus can be a bummer. Hockey, especially, is a little confusing with all the tap-tap functions, when d-pad and button presses would've sufficed. It's also a pain to try and steer a skier down the mountain by touching the sides of the touch-screen. On the positive side, there is an interactive demo for each event, along with a practice mode, so you can learn the ropes.
Small control and connection issues aside, Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games for the DS is the superior version. Its multiplayer options are huge, its events are plentiful and its Adventure Mode is definitely worth exploring. This duo scores the gold medal.
What's Hot: Twenty-seven events and 20 characters to choose from, the Adventure Mode is a worthwhile addition, most of the Dream and Olympic events are fun to play, cool graphics, Wi-Fi rankings and single-card multiplayer.
What's Not: Iffy touch-screen controls, annoying sound effects in Adventure Mode, bonehead computer opponents.