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Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games Review

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On 12/01/2011 at 12:00 PM by Esteban Cuevas

How did Mario qualify with all those mushrooms he takes?

Recommended as a rental only. Younger children and elderly adults may enjoy it as well but not for long.

On June 23, 1991, Sega released Sonic the Hedgehog for the Genesis and started one of the fiercest rivalries in video games. The two were neck and neck in the 16-bit generations and blah, blah, blah. You know where this is going.

Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games is already the third game in the series and the fourth time the two mascots have shared a game together. Needless to say, the novelty of these two former archenemies being in the same game together has already worn thin. Sure, you can have Mario and Sonic going against each other in various events in the game but it’s all in good competition. So what you’re left with is an officially licensed Olympics title with video game characters. So does it score a gold medal?

Mario & Sonic 2012 shares a lot in common with the original Olympic Games title. As a matter of fact, all of the Olympic events are the same ones in that game with only a few new events. These new ones, including Equestrian and Badminton, don’t add much to the variety of the events but it’s nice that they’re there.

Both the older events and the newer ones are hit and miss. Some events like shooting, aquatics 100m freestyle, and the hammer throw are fun events and well done. Others like the Trampoline, Football, and Table Tennis are simple and enjoyable, if unspectacular. Unfortunately, many of the Olympic events are dull and downright boring. Badminton is a just a stiff version of Wii Tennis, fencing always results in flailing around and some like synchronized swimming lack the precision needed for such an event. It’s disappointing that the Wii Motion Plus wasn’t utilized as an option as it could’ve been used to improve some of the events.

New to Mario & Sonic 2012 is the inclusion of dream events. These are more traditional mini games that have nothing to do with the Olympics and feel like they would be more at home in a Mario Party game. These fare better as they have more inventive ideas and more conventional controls due to most of them being done with the Wii remote held sideways. The dream discus event will have your riding a giant discus and knocking your competition out of the way as you try to collect the most rings. Dream spacewalk is a recreation of the first boss battle in Super Mario Galaxy (against the piranha plant). Some of these are still tedious, such as the dream rafting and dream sprint events, but these add variety the newer Olympic events didn’t have, and they hit more than they miss. With these dream events, that gives the game over 30 events in total.

As you play the various events, you’ll earn scratchers. These scratchers can then be accessed in the Bonus Mode where you’ll do what you would with scratchers in real life. You’ll scratch two of them and if they match, you win. This is how you unlock music tracks and different outfits for your Mii character. Even if you don’t match them, these blank scratchers can then be used to unlock content anyways. Two blanks get you music, five gets you clothes and ten gets you full outfits that make your Mii look like various characters in the game. While seeing myself in an Espio outfit is cool (only to me), it’s not something I would strive towards unlocking. Also in the game are various challenges you must complete that serve as little more than achievements or trophies, as well as online leaderboards.

Aside from the Olympic and dream events, there is London Party mode. In this mode, you and three other players are given a sticker card with different amounts of spot holders, depending on what you choose. You are then let loose in an isometric view of London, where you try to run into other characters, such as Toad and Cream, to start a mini game to help you collect stickers. At various times when Big Ben goes off, a chance to turn the tides will present itself and at the end of the day, you’ll compete in a randomly picked event. The first player to fill up their sticker card wins. Now, I have to ask: Why am I running around collecting stickers in a Mario game?! Why am I running around collecting stickers in a Sonic game?! Why am I running around collecting stickers in an Olympics game?!

Even at hard difficulty, this mode offers no challenge at all and the absurdity of what you’re doing is the only thing that could and probably will derail you, causing you to lose. While there’s nothing mechanically wrong with the mini games or the overview look of London, the concept is just so boring and pointless. Running around London to talk to someone and occasionally jumping on your other competitors to slow them down isn’t interesting. Mini games such as running away from a ghost and jumping around collecting stickers as they fall to the ground isn’t fun. Doing uninteresting and boring activities to fill up a sticker card is just plain dumb. London Party is a waste of time and you’ll quickly want go back to the events after trying this mode once.

Now the one thing that saves this title from falling flat is when you hand a second Wii remote to someone else. Some events that were boring become exciting, like 100m sprint or the dream hurdles. For all of the problems that I expressed earlier, I had a better time with the game when I played with one of my friends. I also tried playing the game with my mother, who doesn’t care for video games, and she understood most of the controls and enjoyed herself in many of the events.

A standout is shooting, in which both my friend and my mother both started having an impromptu competition with me as to who had the best aim. This shows where Mario & Sonic 2012 both excels and fails. For every game of table tennis my friend and I enjoyed, there was a game of cycling that left us confused and unimpressed. For each game of football my mother and I liked, there was a discus throw match we barely could understand. Not every event succeeds but the ones that do are fun and make the title worth some time.

Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games and the series in general in many ways seems to be a continuation of the Mario Party series and an update of the Dreamcast title Sonic Shuffle, albeit in a more conventional format. The biggest compliment I can give this title is this is probably the best Olympic game created but in all honesty, that isn’t a hard goal to accomplish. Mario & Sonic 2012 suffers from overall dull events, questionable control schemes and the abysmal London Party mode. However, it does get enough right that I would recommend renting this game when you have some friends over or want to play something with your child or parents.

Go to Blockbuster, spend your $5 and play this for the weekend. Then take it back and forget about it. Or don’t. You’ll be fine either way. For those looking for a real competition between these two former rivals, get Super Smash Bros. Brawl because in this game, no one really wins. They’re just glad they got through it.

Review Policy

In our reviews, we'll try not to bore you with minutiae of a game. Instead, we'll outline what makes the game good or bad, and focus on telling you whether or not it is worth your time as opposed to what button makes you jump.

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All games that receive this score are standout games in their genre. All players should seek a way to play this game. While the score doesn't equate to perfection, it's the best any game could conceivably do.

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Though functional, a game that receives this score has major issues. There are little to no redeeming qualities and should be avoided by nearly all players.

A game that gets this score is fundamentally broken and should be avoided by everyone.



Lukasz Balicki Staff Alumnus

12/04/2011 at 01:10 PM

I didn't know that Blockbuster dropped their rates to rent a game, the Blockbuster that I used to work at still charges $8.55 for a rental. ($7.99 + NJ tax).

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