For me the most memorable Mario & Sonic Olympic game was the Winter Olympic version released prior to the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics. Given that I live in the Greater Vancouver area, seeing Mario and Sonic battle it out in the Vancouver Winter Olympics was pretty cool. The history of Mario & Sonic at the Olympic games started in 2007, and the series has come back to the summer Olympics with Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games. This latest version has both some pluses and minuses, but in the end all the content manages to make for a game that most should enjoy.
One thing that people who play this game will notice is that it tries to be more then just a recreation of the Olympic experience. Interestingly enough, Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games offers some party like modes for people to enjoy. At the forefront of this is the London Party mode, which is a four-player competition that blends everything the game has to offer into one big competition. What is really interesting about his mode is that all of those who play will find themselves on a giant map of London, which is very “Nintendoized” to match the Mario & Sonic theme. Each player will run around the city collecting various items and playing various mini-games. Player’s vie to fill up their tourist sticker book before their opponents do. Stickers are awarded as you earn victories in the various events played in a game. You set the parameters for how many stickers one needs to collect which in essence dictates how long a game will be played.
The mini-games are made up of ALL the events found in the game, including those that are recreations of Olympic events, and those that are just in the game for the sake of being in the game. There are over 30 total events of varying nature, and these can all be experienced in the London Party mode.
You will come across events that are very unique to this mode. For example, you’ll have to collect coins that are scattered throughout the streets (think pac-man without the ghosts chasing you) or chase down a specific character and catch them to end the chase. The next type of events are called Dream Events. These have been seen in past Mario & Sonic Olympic games. For those new to the series, the best way to describe these types of events is that they do have some lineage in Olympic events, but they are far from any realistic interpretation of the event it may be modeled after. For example, the Dream Long Jump actually has you competing in a multi-jump bouncing contest where you and three other characters will bounce across the clouds you have seen in previous Yoshi games. There are various types of Dream events from discus, hurdles, to the aforementioned long jump.
Last but not least, given that this is based on the annual spectacle of the summer Olympics (every four years of course), there are recreations of actual summer Olympic sporting events. Here you will find over 20 traditional events that will challenge your Wii Remote shaking, nunchuk controlling, and button pressing skills. For those that played the first Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games (Bejing, China), you’ll find a lot of recycled games with only four brand new events: badminton, soccer (football for you European purists), horseback show jumping, and canoeing.
Along with the four new events, controlling your on-screen action consists of some basic control schemes. Badminton has you swinging the Wii Remote as you try to out last your opponent hitting the birdie back and forth while horseback show jumping has you waggling the Wii Remote while also balancing the remote and Nunchuck between obstacles. Canoeing has you swinging the Wii Remote in time with an on-screen graphic that sets up the rhythm. For a bit more complex control, but still on the simple side of things, Rhythmic Ribbon Dancing and Synchronized Swimming has you moving your arms into various positions in time with musical accompaniment.
I should note that you don’t have to play the London Party mode itself, as there is opportunities to participate in events alone, or with others, at will. Most events are unlocked from the start, so you can feel free to play and practice at your own will or just compete against others in specific events that you may prefer over others. You can also use your Mii during the game’s competitions, so if you want to pit your Mii against Mario, Sonic, Tales, Luigi, or any other character from the Mario or Sonic universe, feel free to do so.
What is great about Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games is that Sega has given you other reasons to play the events offered in the game. Not only does the game keep a record of high score performances, but it also rewards you with special virtual “scratch tickets” when you complete a match/event. You can carry up to a total of 99 of these tickets or scratch each one when you get it. These tickets reveal specific prizes, such as clothing accessories for your Mii, full body outfits for your Mii, or music tracks from past Mario or Sonic games. It is a nice little reward scheme that will have completionists and fans of Mario/Sonic coming back for more.
So there is enough content to keep people busy, and the party mode can be fun with a group of friends, but there is on nagging issue for me with the game. Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games takes a somewhat simplistic approach in regards to the control as it seems to harken back to the early days of the Wii when there was no Wii Remote Plus and developers of similar natured games believed that players would have LOTS of fun waggling their controller about in crazy ways. Don’t get me wrong here, there is fun to be had now, but it seems that the control for the game overall has not progressed from the early days of the Wii and is almost dated. Maybe this is due to the fact that they don’t want to over-complicate the game with fine tuned controls that may take too much finesse, cutting out the younger ones who Mario and Sonic really do interest. Regardless, the game has a recycled feel in this aspect and I think a new and updated control scheme should be implemented for any subsequent games to freshen the series up.
Visually, if you have played any former Mario & Sonic Olympic games then you should know what to expect. For the uninitiated, the game offers up a great selection of Mario & Sonic characters, solid animation for each one, and a pretty good visual representation of the sports/events offered. London is well represented here too as there are many familiar and recognizable landmarks found throughout, especially during the London Party mode. Colours are bright and vibrant, and there is nary a technical problem or glitch to be found. I think most should be happy with what is offered here, as the game is a solid looking one on the Wii.
In regards to the sounds, the best way to describe it is that it meets the expectation of what you would expect for any Mario or Sonic game. All the characters have their distinct voices and sayings, while the sound effects for each event or movement sounds like a typical platformer that each character would star in. Music is what you would expect too, especially during certain themed events (e.g. Dream Events) that represent some of the more recognizable visuals from other games. As with the graphics, I don’t think too many people should be disappointed here.
Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games is a pretty good game. Sure, it may not be a must have title, but in the end there is enough substance here to provide most gamers with some enjoyable times. From the Olympic themed events to the fantasy events, there is enough variety here. Add to this the London Party mode, which is a great multiplayer party game for everyone to play. The only thing that may bother some is that the game’s controls are quite simplistic, and there is a lot of Wii Remote waggling to be had, but this does not make the game that much less of what it is. In the end you should feel confident that you can pick up this title and have quite a bit of fun with it.