Hands on with Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games on DS

Checking out snowboarding and skeleton bobsleigh

Hands on with Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games on DS

We're still struggling through a UK summer that seems to consist of one hot week followed by one wet week but, in terms of the sporting calendar, the next global event is chilly: the 2010 Olympic Winter Games.

To be held in Canada's Vancouver during February 12-28th, it's an obvious opportunity for Sega and Nintendo to continue the Sonic and Mario double act that sold them 10 million DS and Wii games during 2008 in the form of Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games.

As per the original, once again you have your choice of sidekick characters and a variety of different events to compete in.

So far only alpine skiing and speed skating have been announced, plus the snowboarding and skeleton bobsleigh mini-games which we got our hand on.

In terms of the events, each of the available characters has their own attributes: speed, jump, power, technique and stamina.

For the snowboarding – which was a button-only event – you pick one, then head down the slope using the Y button to accelerate, B to jump, the right trigger to drift and the D-pad for movement.

As you'd expect, the controls are smooth and the game's fairly pleasant. All you have to really be careful about is not hitting the sides of the course and making sure you time pressing the B button just as you hit the lip of the many jumps that are dotted around. Doing so provides a big speed boost.

The touchscreen skeleton bobsleigh mini-game was certainly more exciting, however. You start the run by scratching left and right with the stylus as your character runs along the ice, pushing their sled. Then you jump on, tapping left and right to steer as you hurtle downhill. There are also points where you can perform a slide up/down movement to get a boost. Other than this, it's a case of making sure you don't touch the sides of the run.

Adding to the experience are excellent graphical touches which provide feedback about how fast you're going. There is also a neat replay mode with which to review your performance.

So far, so good, then.

Obviously we'd expect Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games to be nothing less than a solid experience considering it's been developed by Sonic Team and overseen by Nintendo. Hopefully, though, the extra time this game will have had in development compared to the original could mean it emerges as something special.

Time will tell – Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games is due to be released at the end of 2009.