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The fun and exuberance of Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games is back. Mario and Sonic at the Winter Olympic Games takes the unique Nintendo Wii controls and events from the first game and adds a whole host of new activities. The 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver offers Sega another chance to revisit their winning formula. Ice hockey, Figure skating, Dream Ski Cross and Tobogganing all offer hysterical and competitive multiplayer fun using the Wii console's unique motion controllers.
Mario and Sonic at the Winter Olympic Games on the Wii pits not just the two old rivals Mario and Sonic against each other, but their whole entourage. This line-up is expanded this time around with the addition of Donkey Kong and Metal Sonic. Like last time you can also opt to use your own Mii instead of a licensed character, but this time you can also customise clothing before hitting the slopes.
Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games keeps the same gesture controls of its predecessor. Players simply match the on-screen action with similar motions to control their player. These motions range from the frantic waggling of running and skating events, to the more precise input required for the target based activities. This time round you can also dust off the Wii Balance Board accessory and use it for added balancing controls - although because of the Wii's technical limitations this isn't available for multiplayer action.
As you play through the single player game on the Wii, you slowly unlock more and more events for the multiplayer mode. This is a big incentive to complete the game, as playing Mario and Sonic at the Winter Olympic Games with four friends is one of the best experiences on the Wii. The direct nature of the controls along with the simple on-screen tips, advice and tutorials make it easy enough for anyone to pick up.
The multiplayer game can be played in teams, co-operatively, or as a flat-out all against all competition. Events that lend themselves to multiple players work best in the cooperative mode. The Bobsled for example, three players have to point their Wii-motes to run at the start and get the sled moving before jumping onboard. Then all four players have to tilt left and right to assist the font player's attempts to steer them down the perfect racing line.
I loved Mario and Sonic at the Winter Olympic Games simply because the original had been so much fun. My family had played the different events to death, and was keen to see what the winter events would be like. I was happy to find the same blend of simplicity and depth of the original. While the kids could have fun in the afternoons, in evenings the game still holds its own amongst the grown ups.
Mario and Sonic at the Winter Olympic Games on the Nintendo Wii does what we all hoped it would - changes the sporting events while retaining the same level of quality and fun. Although some may feel there is not enough new content here, those who enjoyed the original will more likely relish the opportunity for more frantic sporting fun.
With the 2010 Olympic Winter Games upon us and no doubt a slew of official tie in games, Mario and Sonic at the Winter Olympic Games looks set to stand out from the crowd and still make sense years after the event - a testament to the quality of the game as a whole.
With so many different perspectives it can be hard to know where to start - a little like walking into a crowded pub. Sorry about that.
But so far we've not found a way to streamline our review output - there's basically too much of it. So, rather than dilute things for newcomers we have decided to live with the hubbub while helping new readers find the columnists they will enjoy.
Our columnists each focus on a particular perspective and fall into one of the following types of gamers: