Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games Review
This game was reviewed on the Nintendo Wii.
Ten years ago, if someone had asked me if Mario and Sonic would ever work together, I would have called them straight up crazy for even pondering such an idea. Fast-forward to 2011 where anything is possible and mash-ups are the norm. With Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games, you and your friends from both the Mario Bros. and Sonic universe are racing to the finish line in multiple mini games inspired by the Summer Olympics. Let’s see if this game will place Gold or if it’s meant for the Runner’s Up circle.
Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games isn’t the first time these two recognized characters have collided. In fact, this is the fourth game we’ve seen Mario and Sonic going head to head. They met four years ago at the Beijing Olympic Games, later in Vancouver for the Winter Olympics, and even fought in Super Smash Bros. Brawl. All of Mario and Sonic’s respective pals are here in London as well: Wario, Bowser, Shadow, Amy, Luigi, Peach, etc. with 20 total, so there is a collection for players to choose from. Each character has a different skill set, Power, Speed, etc. Although your score mostly depends on how well you swing the Wiimote around or slide your character across the screen in time, having these skill points is noticeable in mini-games like table tennis or beach volleyball. It’s very amusing seeing Wario competing in Rhythm Ribbon to “The Blue Danube” and Sonic making use of his trademark spin in Volleyball to fool your opponents.
There are three actual game modes consisting of over 30 activities to keep you busy for a while. You can choose from the Olympic Events, London Party mode, and the Dream Events. The Olympic Events mode is nearly identical to the ones from the original Summer Games four years ago, with the addition of some new events to spice things up. You and up to three other players go at it for first place to gain bragging rights. All of the events are already unlocked for play right away, but the problem is they aren’t really fun – mainly because there is no depth to them. Adding only four new sports over the original Summer Olympics is upsetting though – horseback riding, soccer (called Football – it’s London after all), canoeing, and badminton. The canoeing is worthy of some enjoyable times, however, since you and your friends are all rowing in sync in your living room.
The second mode is Dream Events which is a fun twist on the standard Olympic games. Take the sporting events and throw them into the included characters’ worlds. With enemies and obstacles that you must overcome to reach your goal, the challenges provide for some heart-pounding fun – especially when you are playing with friends. For instance, the Dream Long Jump is a stand-out mini-game that I love. You and three others are placed in a race set in an area similar to Super Paper Mario and the idea is to reach the farthest distance without dying. Jumping on clouds, avoiding hazards and Bullet Bills as they take up the screen to mow anyone in the way down is all part of it.
Another event sticking close to familiar grounds is Dream Discus, which takes place in Green Hills, a setting that’s close to the hearts of Sonic fans. Against a backdrop of rolling pastures and bright blue skies, your task is to beat your opponents by collecting the most rings. However, it’s not such a simple job. With everyone on discs flying through the air, you can actually bump each other around – much like you would in bumper cars. The Dream Events are a staple in the franchise, as they are simple and short enough for multiple bursts, making them enjoyable for any age.
The last of the three modes is London Party, which is my favorite of the bunch. If you are a fan of the Mario Party series in any way, I strongly recommend playing this. In light of the London setting, you play on a board game style layout with Big Ben, the London Eye, and bridges overlapping water canals. On the streets of London, you collect coins and stamps by encountering others. These stamps are the main goal of the London Party mode, as you need to fill the 16 spaces in your stamp book. You can collect stamps from various mini-games you play by placing in the higher finishing positions, or (if you’re in a hurry) nabbing stamps from your opponents who might have more than you.
The controls for the game are so simple that you would think you are playing a Wii game of 2006. At this stage in the console’s life, we have been given games that utilize as much of the controls as possible, yet you are waggling left and right with the occasional snapping of the wrist for a quick time event. Despite the simplicity of the controls, they are responsive and accurate while playing most of the mini games. However, there were times during other events, like the Long Jump, that I was looking at my Wiimote wondering if the batteries were dead. After trying different controllers, it became clear that the game wasn’t responding accurately with some mini-games.
Although most of the in-game activities require that you hold the Wiimote horizontally (in a traditional controller fashion), it will tell you before each event how you’re going to hold the Wiimote and if the nunchuk is needed. The nice thing about the game is that SEGA gives the option to do either a horizontal or vertical play scheme, which allows anyone to play the games the way they want to. If you prefer to play with just one controller and hold it like the Nintendo controller you can or play with two hands with the addition of the nunchuk.
From the very beginning of the game you are treated with music that fans of any Mario Bros or Sonic game will find familiar. The slow to lightning quick beats of tunes can really get the heart racing as you are going up against your friends or family. Voice acting in the game is kept to a minimal and really only used in the beginning and end of a round. With quick and small one-liners, the characters personalities are unfortunately very forgettable. However, for a game that is focused on pleasing the fans of the popular characters, it’s welcoming to hear Roger Smith voice Sonic. Mario is of course voiced by the one and only Charles Martinet who has been the voice of Mario, Luigi, Wario and Waluigi during their entire existence. The voice acting is repetitive, as every time you finish a round the athletes will say the same thing they said the last time after beating someone.
Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games’ visuals are of the typical Wii fashion: simple effects, but with color filling every area of your television. The game keeps pace with the fast action of the sporting events, and objects and characters pop around everywhere with flare. It’s all laid out in a cartoon style that everyone, from the young audience to the veteran gamer, will enjoy and is fitting the characters’ respective worlds. The backgrounds are extremely sparse though. For example, at the start of table tennis, the camera pans out, revealing a disappointing lack of detail in anything beyond the table. There is also a weird blur effect on the audience members in certain events that really stuck out as odd. As the game is played, the audience members aren’t sharp like the rest of the game’s character models, and their faces have a smeared placement of detail.
While the actual sporting competitions are nowhere near the real life counter-parts of the upcoming Olympics, they are simple enough for some good times with friends and family. It really is targeted toward the younger audience, so those who want something more than basic motion gaming need to look elsewhere. It’s strange how the really fun parts of Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games are not the Olympic games themselves, but the mini-games. The Dream Events and London Party will be the modes you play the most, and even they fall short of what Mario Party can offer. In the end, if you want a game full of activities for the entire family I recommend going for the gold with Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Wanderson75.net gives Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games a 4.25/5.0
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