Friday, January 18, 2008

Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games (Wii) Revisit

After spending the last couple of days trying more seriously to win gold medals to unlock stuff in Mario & Sonic Olympics, I have to admit that I was wrong about some of the events. Part of some of my earlier problems with Table Tennis had to do with some misconceptions on my part of how the controls worked. Previously, I tried pulling the controller to the side then slamming it forward, like how you would if the remote was an actual table tennis paddle. However, upon closer examination of the control demonstration, I realized that you just hold the remote in front of you and make small movements to the side. Once I had that straight, it took me only two matches to get the timing down and go from utter incompetence to total domination.

I also was able to have a really fun time on one fencing match. Since I was playing a character who seemed to have a slow thrust, I put some effort into mastering the parry. I discovered that if you have a really good reaction time, it is actually possible to react to the glint in your opponents eyes and execute a successful parry. For the first time, the feint option actually looks useful to me, but only if you are fighting a human opponent who likes to parry.

From what I have seen (since I haven't tried them myself yet), rowing and archery are solid events. Rowing is a pretty complex event, but the instructions are pretty clear at all times, so it is possible for someone to make a really good showing on their first try. Archery, like some other events, is an event that takes two or three tries to master the controls. The lack of position tracking on the nunchuk attachment makes the game trickier than it should be.

I still enjoy the swimming events. I was able to break the world record on my very first attempt at the 100m Freestyle relay. Goes to show that being successful at a mini-game is often what can make someone like it. If someone's first exposure to an event is inexplicable failure, the event can quickly feel frustrating and not fun. The frustrations I alluded to in my last post actually put me and my brother off the game for a while.

What brought the two of us back was the burning desire to unlock more events in the game. While having unlockable content in a game like can be frustrating to someone who just bought the game, my experiences with this game have demonstrated to me that it has a definite use. People just seem more willing to put up with a frustrating experience if they have to do it to unlock something. While that is no excuse to let a gameplay experience be frustrating, it does help in this game. Many of the events in Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games require playing through them a few times to get a feel for the controls. Forcing people to play them long enough to get good at the controls lets the players get over the initial frustration and discover that the game is more fun than they might have originally thought.

Of course, I wish the game would hurry up and let me play more Dream events already. The Dream Race is the coolest event in the game so far. It is Mario Kart as a foot-race. You could build an entire game around the concept.

Currently, the only problem I have with the gameplay is that it is not clear in any given event what each of the four character statistics actually does. More information in the instruction pages would help character selection out a lot.

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