Mario and Sonic at the 2012 London Olympic Games review

Sega were generous enough to send me a copy of their latest Mario and Sonic game and who am I to say no? The formula so far has been that the Wii version contains a collection of Olympic themes Wii Sports style mini games and focuses heavily on local multiplayer. The handheld game instead contains a single player adventure story mode as well as collection of mini games that can also be played multiplayer if you have a DS/3DS owning friend. With the upcoming Olympic Games in London this year it makes total sense that Mario and Sonic would be back with a new game because the previous titles have sold very well. Enter Mario and Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games for Nintendo 3DS.

Story Mode is where you’ll most likely head first so let’s discuss that now. I don’t know about you but I’m a pessimist, for me everything that can go wrong usually does. That’s why I was not in the least bit surprised that just a few hours before the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games; things take a turn for the worst. A strange fog has descended over London and it is so thick that it appears the games will have to be cancelled.

Of course this is no ordinary fog, for one thing it is multi-coloured and I’ve been to London several times and let me tell you the fog has always grey. But that pales in significance to the fact that there are several naked doppelgangers walking around inside the fog. On the outset they look a little like Mario, Sonic and some of the other well-known stars – except they’re made of fog…and they’re naked! It appears that these intruders will not budge nor shed any info on the circumstances until they’ve been beaten in an Olympic event by a real Nintendo or Sega mascot. So begins the journey of Mario, Sonic and a whole host of other familiar characters in adventure that will take them to iconic London locations such as Hyde Park, Wimbledon, Tower Bridge, Big Ben and Stone Henge(?).

To cut a terrible story short, the evil Bowser and Dr Eggman are behind the mysterious fog. No surprise there then – truth be told, this is a glorified training mode that spans 21 episodes which will give you some good practice at a selection of the sporting events. The difficulty is a bit too easy for the most part and you’ll complete the story in just a few hours. You’ll now be good enough to head into the Single Player mode where you can start playing the events for real and get those; Gold, Silver and Bronze medals. AI difficulty can be chosen from Easy, Medium and Hard and your goal is to earn Gold on all three (of course).

In total there are 40 events and whilst some really capture the individual sport concerned, most are fanciful recreations of the real thing. Let’s be honest, many Olympic events aren’t that suited for a kids game so Sega have wisely taken a few liberties and simplified things a little.

A few examples:

  • The 110m hurdles now become a memory game. At the start of the event each hurdle is shown as a button and you need to memorize as many of them as you can in order. Each one you guess correctly will result in your character jumping. Hit the wrong button and they’ll trip up.
  • Marathon hardly features any actual running. Instead you need to time your button press so that you successfully collect a drinking water bottle as you pass a table.
  • Weightlifting requires you to shout at your 3DS microphone as loud as you can when the power meter is at the desired point.
  • Football is reduced to corner kicks. As the ball kicked from the corner flag you need to time your button release to strike the ball whilst at the same time trying to curl it around the keeper with your circle pad.

Things have been made simple but it really does make sense when you think about it. A 90 minute football game doesn’t lend itself to a mini game collection and nor does a two hour long marathon. By reducing things down to their key elements, Sega have been able to keep the spirit of the events whilst keeping them fun at the same time. I can’t go into all 40 events here but most of them are quite good. To be honest my least favourite are those that require the use of Motion Controls to play. I don’t really feel comfortable swinging my 3DS around like mad and that is exactly what the Hammer Throwing event wants. It feels very dangerous without a wrist strap and I can easily envisage the console being thrown to the other side of the room. Luckily only a few mini games use the gyroscope and as long as you hold on tight, it’ll be okay.

Sadly I wasn’t able to test the multiplayer but I can reasonably assume that it will be even more fun with humans as opposed to the CPU bots. Sega have kindly allowed single card download play which means that only one person has to own the game and your other 3DS friends can still play. Multicard owners will no doubt have a bigger selection of multiplayer scenarios to use though. There is no online play but there are online leaderboards, so at least you can compare your skills and best times with your friends and the rest of the world. A nice feature for the competitive sorts but real online play would have been better.

All this is pointless unless the game looks and sounds good right? Well you can stop your worrying now because the game looks great, lovely character models and realistic looking locations. Not forgetting the real 3D to be had, well let’s just say that the depth to the 3D visuals is superb. Now the sound on the other hand can get a bit annoying, each character has three or four spoken phrases (or noises) and they’ll soon get very repetitive, you could turn the sound off if it really bothers you but I just learned to accept it.

If you’re serious about your Olympic Games events being faithful then you might want to save your cash for Segas Official London 2012 game coming in June 2012, but for the kiddies I really think they’ll love Mario and Sonic at the London Olympic Games which scores 7 out of 10

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