The Mario & Sonic Olympic series has been a best-selling staple on the the Wii and DS for the last couple of years, so you’d expect this third installment to be the best yet. Is this the case, or does it not even reach the winners podium?
When Nintendo released the Wii and DS onto the world, they were under the illusion that motion and touch controls would bring about a revolution in game play, resulting in ambitious projects never before possible. Sadly, this wasn’t always the case, and a never-ending sea of mini-game compilation shovel-ware was wrought onto the world.
Nintendo, through Wii Sports & Wii Play, showed the world how these could be created, and turned into critical and commercial success stories, sadly third parties struggled translating this with their own series. Sega on one hand should have a leg up considering Nintendo was willing to share their own Mascot with them, to bring about a collaboration once assumed impossible. While the Mario & Sonic series has received commercial success, it would be a reach to say they are among the best games ever released.
I played the first one for the Wii and found it reasonably enjoyable. However, once I put down the controller after an hour or so, I never played the game again. I approached Mario & Sonic London 2012 with an open mind, expecting it to be as enjoyable if not more, but sadly this isn’t the case.
The game is, to be fair, feature heavy. It features both single and multiplayer (download play, and also local play requiring a game card each) and an online record log. There is also a story mode, typically cheap, where Eggman and Bowser have attempted to ruin the games with fog, following a tantrum about them not being invited. Each chapter of the story mode sees you competing in an Olympic event against a fog imposter of sorts.
The single player is split into Highlight Match, where you can play whichever event you want, or Medley Match, where you play events back to back for a total high score. You can also create your own Medleys and exchange them with friends. Generally you get to choose from one of four characters before entering an event, which isn’t ideal considering how both Mario and Sonic fans have their favourites.
The sheer amount of events included in this game is outstanding, however the execution is questionable. There are 57 different events which included the necessary 100m dash, hurdles and triple jump to the random such as Rhythmic Ribbon, Taekwondo and even Show Jumping! Some of the events are simply filler, take for example Marathon. This has nothing to do with an actual Marathon, but is in fact a drink catching game. Four competitors race past a table of drinks, and you must press A at the right time to pick a drink up. Pressing A is all you do in this entire event. Pointless.
Gone are the days of actual skill and endurance where you must hammer the A button to run to the finish line until your fingers drop off. Now the majority of events feature context sensitive inputs which I found not only annoying but sometimes incomprehensible. The controls and in turn, the instructions for Hammer Throw are comically over the top. Grab Hammer: Hold L and R buttons, Spin: Title the system in a circle, as if rolling a marble on it. Throw: Release the L and R Buttons.
Why could this same game-play mechanic simply not be achieved by rotating the Circle Pad. Not only would this be simpler, it would be more comfortable to the player, and would also not interfere with the 3D effect.
Despite some curious design choices, the actual presentation of this game is nearly faultless. Menus are easy to navigate, through use of colour, and animation. The music in the game is well conceived and sounds typically Olympic and triumphant. The actual graphical presentation is bold and bright and both Nintendo’s and Sega’s mascot merge into a neutral world seamlessly. The game features an auto-save which can slow down proceedings, but there are no noticeable loading screens or other graphical flaws.
One other gripe I had, is during story mode where Eggman and Bowser have covered London in a sea of fog in order to ruin the games, why is it that each stage is presented as foggy. But when you actually compete against the fog minions the Olympic stadium suddenly become fog free?
Mario & Sonic London 2012 is perhaps best compared to a Marathon, the kind where the runner stops halfway for a toilet break. While Sega have made a grand package in scale, they’ve fallen at the last hurdle with the execution. This should not be considered a gamers game, but perhaps more an arduous activity for distracting children, on long journeys.
For more information on how we review games check out our criteria here. A copy of this game was provided to The Paranoid Gamer by the publisher for review purposes.