Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games Review

By Darryl Kaye on March 10, 2012

Despite the fact that Sonic should be clearly better at running, Mario should be the obvious contender for anything jump related, and Wario should be completely banned from competing in any kind of athletic event, the 2012 Olympic games have heralded in a new crossover title to celebrate the upcoming Olympics. Those familiar with the prior games will get the general gist: characters from both Mario and Sonic franchises team up to compete in a wide variety of Olympic-related events, while at the same time being wacky and causing hilarity. If this were the duo's first run around in major sports things may be different, but being the third game in a franchise that has limited space to run, there are few surprises.

Fans of the franchise will immediately notice that compared to the Wii version of the game, the 3DS version is much more bite-sized. Games have been largely diluted down to mini-game format, most likely for the sake of being a more portable version of the title. This means the 50+ events that players will have access to have been shaved down to be faster and more gimmick riddled, than the complex or generally fun. On one hand it makes the game's controls extremely easy to learn, as most events require the player to push buttons rapidly in a particular order, or move the 3DS in a particular direction. It also means that most of the games will either be tremendously fun or incredibly boring, depending on your age and skill level.

Some of the problems lie directly with the system and how it handles, while other issues are simply design oriented. Mini-games designed to utilize the tilting/spinning feature of the 3DS don't always fare well, and are far more frustrating (and less rewarding to engage in) than the simple button pressing ones. Equally fun are the events which require you to use the 3DS microphone, which are both embarrassing to play, impossible to enjoy (unless you enjoy making loud noises), and more importantly, represent a sort of game design that only really does well in romance simulators. It's definitely a strange choice on behalf of the developers, but then again there's so much happening in the game itself there's really no singular focus to begin with. It really is just one giant mash-up of as many mini-game concepts that can possibly fit in one game.

On the bright side, this is the kind of game that is an absolute heaven for children who can't make up their mind on what kind of game to play, and absolutely love slapping their fingers on their touch screen just to get a high score. Being ranked bronze, silver or gold provides a decent amount of incentive to replay the events you truly enjoy, and with over 50 to choose from there's a good chance that players should find something to enjoy. Those who want to achieve everything will also find there's a bit to look forward to in the badges earned after completing an event, which go directly toward players ID to show off how awesome you are.

But aside from that, there's no real sense of 'unlockables' as characters are general pre-determined by the event being selected, and as games are consistently unlocked simply through progression in the game's weak story, players are robbed of the only other joy to portable franchise filled mini-gaming.

Unfortunately there's not too much to say when it comes to sound and art, as the game is fairly straightforward on that front. Fanfare music plays at just about every opportunity there is for a fanfare to occur, but otherwise players should look forward to hearing a lot of sound effects. Visually there isn't much to the title either, but considering how contained every single bit of gameplay is Mario and Sonic is an extremely colourful title, reflecting all of the art design that's made both franchises so memorable.

Final Thoughts

Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games is a bit of a frustrating title for numerous reasons. Firstly, it's missing large portions of what were found in the Wii version. It's also quite difficult to really discern who would get the most enjoyment from the title. Both seasoned gamers and younger audiences will find things to complain about, from the shallow nature of the game, to the lack of any real challenge. Given that this is the third title in this little series, more should be expected.

Nice vibrant colours.
There's a full complement of characters.
Good for the build-up to the Olympics.
Feels far too shallow.
Good range of events, but many of them have poor design choices.
Considering this is the third title, the developers should be doing more with the property.
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