It was inevitable, really. Considering Mario & Sonic At The Olympic Games has sold over 7 million copies to date, and given that the Winter Olympics (or the Olympic Winter Games as we keep being reminded it's called) is on its way very soon, the decision to make a second game based on the winter tournament was a complete no-brainer. What is perhaps a little more surprising however is the amount of work that's gone into making this a decent sequel.
After all, let's face it, After the success of the first title, Sega could have taken the original game, removed all the characters and events, made a rubbish title screen in MS Paint and slapped Mario & Sonic 2 on the game box and it would still have shifted millions of copies. That's why we're so chuffed to see that there's actually been a conscious effort here to make a game that's improved on the original in many ways.
The game consists of 27 different events, 16 of which are based on actual Winter Olympic sports. The ones you'd expect are here in full force. Downhill Skiing, Ski Jump, Snowboard, Speed Skating and the like all make fairly obvious appearances, alongside some interesting choices that help give the game a bit of variety. Ice Hockey is fun once you get to grips with the control system, and Curling and Figure Skating are the sort of Marmite events that'll have you going either way. You'll either love them immediately or play them once and never go near them again.
That's the general case with all the events in fact, but that's the nature of this particular genre. There's no such thing as a mini-game collection (which is what this clearly is) where every single activity hits it out of the park. Even Wii Sports had baseball and its sequel had wakeboarding. Anyone who enjoyed those events probably hated different ones in their place. Our point is, we doubt there's going to be anyone who thoroughly enjoys all 27 events in this game.
There's plenty of variety in terms of control methods so if you don't like games where you have to waggle the Remote you'll only dislike a couple of events, for example. Some events can also be played with a Balance Board, though while these work well, they're single-player only.
Icy What You Did There
The events that nearly everyone will enjoy though are the 11 Dream Events, which chuck the rules out of the window and change the location from real-life Olympic venues to mental Mario and Sonic-based areas. In the original Mario & Sonic there was only a handful of these events and they didn't really fulfil their potential. We wanted to see them running through the Mushroom Kingdom and the Green Hill Zone, but instead we were given generic 'fantasy' locations with a couple of familiar enemies chucked in for good measure. This time it's far more interesting.
Take the Dream Ski Cross event, for example, which is a near-perfect replica of the Mario Circuit track in Mario Kart Wii, only with snow instead of a track and skis instead of karts. There's remixed music and loads of familiar Mario Kart weapons, such as red shells and star power, and the whole thing really feels like a 'dream' event.
Similarly enjoyable are Dream Ski Jumping (which sees you blasting off into space through the Good Egg Galaxy from Super Mario Galaxy, collecting coins and landing on a huge target to get as many points as possible), Dream Snowboard Cross (which takes you through the Radical Highway stage from Sonic Adventure 2 and sees you collecting rings and hitting springboards) and Dream Ice Hockey, which is based in Bowser's castle and ends up getting thoroughly bonkers once the power-ups start getting chucked around.