SB@E3: Mario & Sonic impressions

June 8, 2009

Note: E3 may be over, but that doesn’t mean we’re done with posting hands-on impressions and views from the show floor!

The original Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games was a lot of things. It was gimmicky, repetitive and tiring. It was also very successful, and at least a little bit fun. With the winter-themed sequel, Sega looks to tighten up the controls, keep things fun and recapture that sales magic. We got some time behind closed doors with the title.

With the Wii version, a lot of games eschew the original’s up-and-down motions for a smoother approach. It certainly feels more appropriate for the snow and ice sports. There are still gimmicky motions, like with the figure skating levels and mid-air skiing tricks, but they are put in the right places.

We got to try out a few games at the show, like bobsledding and skiing, and the Balance Board support looks to be done well. If a game actually can make sitting down and leaning feel realistic, then that’s a good sign.

The Dream Events are back this time, and look to add more than just item blocks. Dream Skiiing was demoed for us, and the level was ripped directly from Mario Kart Wii. The Mario Circuit level has been filled with snow for winter competition, and the game itself plays like Mario Kart Wii with an even stranger control scheme.

For the DS installment, Sega is adding a story mode. The company is talking up the fact that this is the first time Sega and Nintendo characters have had conversations with each other. This looks promising, but time will tell whether it is just a shell for minigames or if it has its own charm.

One noticeable thing about M&S is the emphasis on Nintendo’s IP. The parts we saw use Nintendo-themed menus, coins instead of rings and lots of references that weren’t to Sega. This is probably a smart thing, since Nintendo games sell much better than Sega ones, but Sega fanboys might be a bit miffed by the adjustments.

Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games will be out later this year.