Game Review: Mario & Sonic At The London 2012 Olympic Games
Genre: Action/Mini-Game Collection
Available Platforms: Nintendo 3DS
ESRB Rating: E
What do Mario and Sonic do when they aren’t kart-racing around the Mushroom kingdom or racing around Progressive Insurance commercials? Why competing in the Summer Olympics, of course! Mario and Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games is published and developed by Sega in Cooperation with Nintendo. Having never had any exposure to the Sega/Nintendo mash-up series, I was eager to give the 3DS version a try, and I was pleasantly surprised. It is perfect for short or long gaming sessions, the presentation is polished, and the many mini-games are both fun and challenging.
My first experience with Olympic or athletic themed video games was 1984’s Epyx Summer Games. That game has 7 events with one control scheme, with just a few colors and long load times. Now, fast-forward nearly 30 years and Mario and Sonic offers more than 50 events and about as many controls schemes, fast load times, and a bright organized HUD.
Choosing the Single player option, you can choose to play one event at a time, or put together a medley, or even create or trade a medley with friends. Each individual event is grouped into broader categories, like Aquatics or Shooting or Gymnastics. As you scroll through each event, you can see how you medaled at each difficulty level (Easy, Normal, Hard), the character set available (Heroes, Challengers, Tricksters, Wild Ones, and Girls) and the Game Level(1,2, or 3 stars). You can quickly toggle the difficulty level at each event or set the default in the options.
What really impressed me was not just the sheer volume of events, but that the control schemes were rarely repeated. I expected quick time button presses and maybe a stylus-use or two. But what I didn’t expect to do was blow into the mic, yell into the mic, draw patterns with the stylus, jerk the 3DS in many directions, memorize button presses, and have quick time button releases. The drawback is every event has a tutorial, because it’s probably the only time that particular scheme will be used. However, the tutorials are clear and concise. Each event starts and ends quickly, which is helpful, as you can replay or move onto another event with minimal waiting.
Multiplayer pits you and up to three other local players in each of the sports, either head-to-head or one at a time depending on the event. Every event is available whether all in the party also have the game or if you are hosting the session and other 3DS owners are using the Download Play mode. Each event downloaded quickly and ran without any hitches or lag whatsoever.
Mario and Sonic offers more than just single and multi-player modes, it even provided a plot option. Made up of mostly cut-scenes, I found it a bit slow in pace while it loosely tied in the different characters at the London games. Bowser and Dr. Eggman, feeling jilted by not being invited to the games, devised a scheme to ruin the games for all the rest of the athletes. Their scheme, in London, was…fog. But this was not ordinary fog, it was sentient and troublesome; reminiscient of the Holodeck episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation.
Overall, I was pleased albeit surprised with the amount of fun I had. The fog plot was a bit thin, but the events and the fun usage of the 3DS more than made up for it, especially because the plot was optional. The familiar characters made this game a bit more appealing, but as there didn’t appear to be any new voice-over work recorded, it could have been another set of characters and it wouldn’t have diminished the game much, if at all. What kept my attention was replaying each event to beat the world and personal records on file. Mario and Sonic really showcase the 3DS’s capabilities in an iconic setting with fun and colorful characters.
+ Great use of 3DS’s capabilities
+ Fast and polished interface
+ In and out of each event quickly
– Plot a bit thin (possibly unnecessary)