If minigame compilations rarely seem as good on handhelds as they do on consoles, it’s probably because it’s so much less practical to get them working in four-player mode. Rounding up four controllers for a spot of split-screen action on Wii is one thing, but finding four DS owners, each with a copy of the game, is less likely.
Even when the game features single-card play, as this one does, it’s not an option you’re going to be able to use every time somebody walks into the room while you’re playing and asks to join in. So the solo mode is often pushed to the fore, and here it’s in the form of a mini-adventure with loads of text telling a truly dreadful story about rescuing ‘snow spirits’ or some such guff. You switch between Mario and Sonic as you run around a wintery town gathering sports gear from treasure chests and challenging other characters to frozen face-offs that are based on assorted snow-based activities.
If you don’t know what all these winter sports are about, it can be a bit confusing. Even if you do know your Moguls from your Alpine, there are some weird minigames going on. We did one for something called Nordic Combined, and after the starting pistol went off we had to bash the A button to make a little ‘penalty’ bar expire within 15 seconds. Victory!
Turns out it was based on a larger event involving skiing on Excitebike-style tracks and shooting at targets. It seemed a bit odd that we had to go through the rigmarole of choosing characters, starting the event and being awarded a medal for something so brief and insignificant. Then there’s the speed skating challenge. We broke the record, then broke it again, but failed repeatedly until we did something slightly different right at the end and got a pass, despite being miles slower than before.
The main events are a decent enough bunch, mostly controlled with the stylus and mercifully free from excessive button-mashing. The Dream Events bear even less resemblance to reality than their Wii counterparts, including a 3D shooter where you drive tanks that fire snowballs at other players and a slightly dump target-tapping effort that doesn’t seem to have any winter connection at all. The Wii version is much better, and the adventure mode here seems designed for patient young children. If you can get some link-up going, though, it’s worth a look.
Oct 22, 2009