Colorado Springs Military Newspaper Group

Video Game Review

‘Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games’

BY JEB HAUGHT

DEVELOPER: SEGA

PUBLISHER: SEGA

SYSTEM: Nintendo Wii

PRICE: $49.99

ESRB RATING: Everyone

REVIEW RATING: 3 stars (out of 5)

Mario, the unluckiest plumber to ever swing a wrench, is the “jack of all games.” He’s dipped his gloved hand in nearly every genre possible, so it comes as no surprise to see that he qualified for nearly every event in the Vancouver Winter Olympics. What is unusual, however, is to see Mario compete against Sonic the Hedgehog, the “bad boy of retro gaming,” in “Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games.”

As the frosty sequel to “Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games,” this title follows the bitter rivalry between the 16-bit heroes as they compete in various events, ranging from snowboard halfpipe to speedskating to, yawn, curling. In addition, several other famous SEGA brand characters join the competition, including: Yoshi, Bowser, Wario, Shadow, Knuckles and Blaze. Believe me, watching Bowser deftly figure skating will send anyone into fits of laughter!

Unlike its predecessor, this title has all nine standard Winter Olympic events unlocked from the beginning. Performing well in each event will eventually unlock a fantasy version that is played in a cool surreal setting, which is familiar to fans of the dynamic duo’s library. One to four players can compete in the main mode, called the Winter Games Festival, and there are also common balloon popping, panel flipping “party games” available in Party Games mode. But honestly, the entire game is nothing more than a thinly disguised party game compilation.

That’s where this title bails hard, because it doesn’t have enough fun content to warrant extended solo-play. Like all party-game compilations, it is only worth playing in a group setting. It also doesn’t help that players will be staring at excessive loading screens and that the controls aren’t as responsive as they should be. This is due to the lack of Wii MotionPlus support.

“Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games” is better than most party-game compilations, but playing it alone gets old fast.

‘Daniel X: The Ultimate Power’

DEVELOPER: THQ

PUBLISHER: THQ

SYSTEM: Nintendo DS/DSi

PRICE: $19.99

ESRB RATING: Everyone

REVIEW RATING: 3.5 stars (out of 5)

The advent of our current high-tech “instant-communication generation” has come with a terrible price for our youth. To them, reading is only good for texting and web posts, which are both rife with horrendous grammar. Fortunately, a talented author named James Patterson has encouraged youngsters to read with a best-selling young adult book that enthralls every lad who picks it up. Now the adventure is available on the Nintendo DS in the form of “Daniel X: The Ultimate Power.”

Who is Daniel X? Just a typical young boy who happens to have alien parents that bestowed him with the incredible power of creation. With little more than a simple thought, Daniel is able to materialize objects out of thin air. Sure it sounds amazing, but with this awesome power also comes the responsibility to protect Earth from frightening aliens bent on destroying the planet!

Daniel starts off with only a few powers and has the ability to gain several new ones as the game progresses. I particularly enjoy transforming into a soccer ball or an eagle to access difficult areas, and using telekinetic powers and super strength is pretty fun, too. Why, then, are the “creation powers” limited to navigating the terrain? Players must use the DS stylus to draw items into existence, and I would really like more freedom to experiment with this fun feature.

Players also earn experience points throughout the adventure that are used to purchase new powers or upgrade existing ones. What I really like, however, is the fact that spending these points isn’t permanent. This means that players can change powers and upgrades around if they don’t like what they purchased. Too bad the game is over before these powers can be fully explored.

Featuring great 3-D combat and cool upgrades, “Daniel X: The Ultimate Power” isn’t your average licensed title.

REVIEW SCORING SYSTEM

5 stars = Must Have

4 stars = Very Good

3 stars = Above Average

2 stars = Bargain Bin

1 star = Don’t Bother

RATINGS KEY

Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB)

E: (Everyone)

E10-plus: (Everyone 10 and older)

T: Teen (13 and older)

M: Mature (17 and older)

To find out more about Jeb Haught and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

COPYRIGHT 2010 CREATORS.COM.

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