Mario and Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games is a fully licenced game based off the Event due to come to London later this year; it is developed and published by Sega and only appears on Wii and 3DS. It is essentially a collection of mini-games based on actual events in the upcoming Olympics with a story mode to loosely tie the premise of the game together.
The story begins with Bowser and Dr Eggman scheming against the Mario, Sonic and the Olympic Games. Despite having been invited in previous Olympic Games, this year they have not received their invitations. They take this snub very personally and decide that this is “obviously” due to the fact that they are the most likely to win and are therefore being excluded so that Mario and Sonic can take Olympic gold.
Eggman has a machine that makes use of something called the Phantasmal Fog which obscures the areas it infests and also creates doppelgangers which will challenge you to Olympic Games in order to stop you from destroying the machines that pump out fog in each area. The game goes through various parallel storylines which includes characters from both franchises and after the main story is complete a few extra episodes unlock to fill you in on the plot a little more.
It very much feels like a publicity game as the game takes you to various hotspots in London as well as to Stonehenge. During the story a lot of name drops and a little history is occasionally dropped into the dialogue in a weird sort of publicity. The story mode has a map so that you can see where each stage is based on; all of which are famous places and tourist attractions.
The games that you get to play all last between a minute and about 3 minutes long with some lasting longer depending on the game type. They use varying control schemes and take advantage of almost all of the 3DS’s capabilities. Most games use the stylus, circle pad or buttons but there are a few that use the tilt controls or microphone as well; one or two also use the touch screen but without the stylus.
The events cover a lot of the official Olympic Games and are sorted into different categories. These include everything from the standard sprints, running marathons, javelin, shot put, swimming etc. It does cater to some of the less publicised events as well such as fencing epee, boxing, canoe racing, show jumping, volley ball, hand ball, synchronised swimming and many more. These can be put into medleys made by you or other people and exchanged with people within wireless range. There are also pre-set medleys that you can use as well.
Multi-player takes the forms of download play and local play which is a shame as online multiplayer would be a nice feature for this. Online takes the form of leaderboards which can be a hassle to update as you have to do each event individually. It has to be updated manually which requires you to stop playing the game and then seek out each of the new records before connecting to the internet to update each individual minigame.
To add more to the game each event has 3 difficulty levels and each has three medals to unlock; bronze, silver and gold. Unlocking all gold medals in an event type (athletics, swimming etc) can earn you more badges. Badges are attached to your player name on all leaderboards that you update your scores on. Badges can also be unlocked via the badge machine. The badge machine uses tickets earned by completing events and you can collect multiples of the same badges. There are 200 badges in total all with different logos on them and completionists should have a lot to keep them occupied.
Graphically it’s very sharp looking, very colourful and all the events look nice and have backgrounds fitting to each event but there isn’t much to look at in the background. There are awkward looking graphics when you view the characters from certain angles during the cutscenes. The 3D doesn’t add to the game really and can be a real pain in events involving tilt controls; the movement of the screen means that you can’t focus properly as you move the 3DS around.
Audio is mostly orchestral and fits the Olympic theme pretty well. The music plays throughout the cutscenes and the minigames and is much better than the voices. The voices are more often than not annoying as they repeat short phrases and noises for every piece of text they speak. Donkey Kong is by far the worst and sounds nothing like he does in any of the Nintendo games he’s been in, Daisy and a few of the others are quite bad as well and after a while there are sections of dialogue just replaced by characters noises.
The plot is pretty throw away and is literally just there to give a slightly coherent narrative to the game. The story is definitely more for a Sonic audience than a Mario one as it fits more into the same sort of conversations found in the recent Sonic games than in the Mario ones. The extra chapters that appear after the main storyline are a little more interesting but not by much.
Presentation and Audio
Graphically it’s pretty nice; the characters all look pretty sharp apart from a few odd looking things when characters are viewed from a certain angle. The 3D doesn’t really add anything; it only sharpens the characters a little, makes the menus pop out a little and sadly it makes gameplay more difficult at times as well which is due to some of the control schemes. Strong orchestral music flows throughout the game which is nice to listen to throughout the rather longwinded cutscenes. The” voices” for the characters are incredibly annoying after a while as some sounds get reused over and over again in such as short space of time. The standard noises for all the events seem reasonable enough and the usual tones that signify whether you are doing well or not are there.
57 games of varying fun; some are really good and some are really bad but most stick to the good side of the spectrum. This does accord to personal taste as well as the games do vary in how they are played by a large amount. One gripe I do have is certain events ramp up in difficulty much more than others and in the story it does make quite the difference especially when events are having the standard world records beaten by the CPU players.
As a compilation of minigames it doesn’t do much wrong and with most games being on the good side of the spectrum you have a reasonable choice of games to enjoy. That being said there is very little substance to some of the games and they end up being over in seconds which doesn’t flow quite so well compared to other minigames. Still the lack of online play is annoying as it requires you to find someone with either another copy of the game or ready to use the download play option. Luckily the leaderboards are online and you can quite easily track your times and scores with anyone around the world.
It’s relatively fun to play through the events and the story (if nothing else) provides a reasonable curve of difficulty to learn how to play the games. I did find myself favouring certain events over others very quickly and with the majority of these it was due to the control scheme. Even with the diverse use of controls some which normally may be easier may not end up being ones you like using on higher difficulties or in the more competitive games as sometimes the ease of use means that it has a lower skill cap and therefore are easier for others (especially the CPU) too. As a compilation of minigames it does its job reasonably well but there are other collections which are more innovative and tend to have more going for it.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.