Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games

It’s still a sight that takes some getting used to. To look at Mario or Dr Eggman, you’d think that the only athletic thing about them would be growing between their toes. But as Mario & Sonic At The Olympic Games proved, they’re both capable of competing in various sports at Olympic level despite their portly physiques and lack of ergonomic sportswear.

This month, we were able to get an extended hands-on (or rather bums-on) session with a couple of the balance board-enhanced minigames in the follow-up, Mario & Sonic At The Olympic Winter Games, and it’s safe to say that if the rest of the game lives up to these standards, then the Wii Fit peripheral that has made a career out of calling its owners ‘skanky bloaters’ could soon become a Wii gamer’s new best friend.

The first event on the day’s Olympic itinerary was the bobsled competition. With balance board support enabled, the game asks player one to park his or her moneymaker on the board while they cradle the remote to their chest. Should additional players wish to join the fun, they should arrange themselves directly behind the first player in a Humiliation Conga formation and again hold their remote to their chest.

The event itself is an exercise in simplicity: you simply tilt your body/buttocks in line with the ice bank, preferably so that you hit the go faster stripes littered on the track. Although the lead player has most control over the sled, the game draws information from all four remote accelerometers, so if the whole thing goes runners’ side up, the post-match stats will let you know who’s to blame for your undignified performance.

Going back to the event without the balance board feels a little bit anti-climactic. Like so many other Wii games, this event is tremendously enjoyable if you’re prepared to drop your inhibitions and just go for it, and in a house party where the liquor is flowing freely, it should become a firm favourite.