Game Review

Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games Review

Europe PAL Version

Posted by James Newton

Olympic shames

It was four years ago that the old 16-bit rivals teamed up for the first time: Sonic appeared in Super Smash Bros. Brawl and the two took their tussle to the track in Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Games. It wasn't exactly a high watermark for either mascot, but it felt right at home on the Wii at the time: motion gaming was taking off and everyone wanted a Wii in their home at Christmas.

Two years later, the mascots tried to repeat the formula with Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games, slimming down some of the waggle controls for downhill events and adding Balance Board support into the mix. Now we're back in the summer for Mario and Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games, but it barely gains a bronze medal at the third attempt.

While the event list has been beefed up to include football, synchronised swimming, volleyball and more, it's the way they're tied together that disappoints: whereas previous games offered Festival or Circuit modes, 2012 only has single match – pick a sport, win it, pick another sport. There's no real coherence to the package, and although the dip-in, dip-out style works for some party games here it strips the game of its real competitive edge.

The events themselves are executed with mixed success, too. Sonic hasn't got much experience in sports games but Mario's been trying his hand at all sorts for years, so it's no surprise to see many team sports have been done better before. Football is slow and graceless, with none of the game's strategy or pace; volleyball is equally stodgy, especially next to the enjoyable Mario Party 4 minigame. There are some highlights – shooting is one of the more skilful pursuits on offer – but it's a disappointment to see the team sports get such short shrift.

Dream Events should rescue the package – who wouldn't want to take on Super Mario Galaxy's Dino Piranha with Sonic, Mario and team? – but again they're tough to recommend. Dream Hurdles is chaotic in the best way as four players jostle at high speed while trying to leapfrog each other and hurdles to score the most points. It's instinctive and hilarious, like New Super Mario Bros. Wii boiled down to its purest joy, but others aren't so successful. Dream Sprint puts you in balls on Sonic Heroes' Bingo Highway stage, and plays more like Super Monkey Ball than anything from Sonic or Mario's history.

It seems cliché to complain of sports games offering a “mixed bag” of events, but London 2012's problem is the better events aren't good enough to make up for the poor ones; many of these you'll boot up once, ace on your first try and never play again. There are the odd highlights, but they're not enough.

The London Party mode is another ill-advised addition; a pseudo-Mario Party with none of that game's order or planning, you walk around a cartoon London playing minigames and sports until you have enough stickers to fill your sticker album. Quite who at SEGA thought that would be an engaging multiplayer format is anyone's guess.

As you play through any mode you accumulate scratch cards that unlock music or clothing for your Mii, but little else. There's no trivia, no ghosts and precious little incentive to play on your own, other than to fulfil the Achievement-like challenges that do nothing but fill up a profile. There's the ability to upload your best times and scores to Nintendo WiFi Connection but as that takes 30 seconds or more and you have to upload them one at a time, we understand if most people don't.

Conclusion

What felt fresh and enjoyable four years ago doesn't cut the mustard in 2011, particularly when some elements have been stripped out or reworked to poor effect. London Party mode is a poor alternative to the dozens of superior Wii party games, and while its cast of gaming greats is enough to forgive some of its mistakes it's still pretty far off the mark.

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User Comments (37)

Sam_Loser2

#1

Sam_Loser2 said:

Seems to me that this is just another series they are going to put barely any work into and sell it on Mario and Sonic's name alone.

misswliu81

#2

misswliu81 said:

oh wow, i thought this was going to get a respectable score but a 5? ouch. as much as i love SEGA, alongside nintendo, i think it is time they put these olympic games to rest and give us a proper 2 -player mario & sonic platformer for the wii U and 3ds.

i think if i played this and enjoyed it, i would've gave the game a slightly higher score.

C-Olimar

#3

C-Olimar said:

And this is what happens when you give a fading developer power over Mario.

LEGEND_MARIOID

#4

LEGEND_MARIOID said:

Hmmm, have to disagree with the review. I think overall its a pretty solid outing again. Have you played it in two player or multiplayer? That's where the game shines. Doesn't have the novelty value of the first 2 brilliant games - but its still very good. Think an 8 or high 7 is more accurate. I think it could have been better, but the revw and score of 84 percent by NGamer was a little more closer to what my opinion of the game would be.

C7_

#5

C7_ said:

Not Surprised.

why would you do the same game you made four years ago Sega?
The fans fell for the Mario and Sonic nonsense then, the audience certainly isn't going to want to buy a half-hearted sports game twice regardless of who re-occurs on the cover.

SegaGamer93

#6

SegaGamer93 said:

As soon as i saw the tagline "Olympic shames" i was thinking that the score was a 5 out of 10 and i was right. I bought the game the first day. I dont feel ashamed buying this game i mean its still good for all the family. I have to agree with James with his review but i dont regret buying it.

LEGEND_MARIOID

#7

LEGEND_MARIOID said:

Don't forget the Mario and Sonic Winter Olympics offering - which got a 9/10 on here. Not a 'HD' console game, so easily forgiven

brandonbwii

#9

brandonbwii said:

I played this game and it's been a long time since I've seen mini-games so shallow. Made me almost fall asleep while playing. I should probably try Wii Party or wait for Mario Party 9.

Tasuki

#12

Tasuki said:

Wow what a disappointment. The first one got an 8 here and the second one got a 9 from NL iirc but this one a 5. That is not good at all. YOu just saved me 40 bucks since I really enjoyed the first two I was happy to hear about the London one now not so much.

Just one question by football are you talking about soccer? I have seen that they added soccer to this game but I didnt see football unless by football you were talking abut soccer since you are guys are based in the UK and they call soccer football over there.

Sabrewing

#14

Sabrewing said:

I wouldn't give it a five. Yes, it's mostly a retread of what players saw back in 2008's first entry in this series, and yes, the novelty of "OMG MARIO AND SONIC IN ONE GAME!!" has worn off, but, those being said, the controls are much less cumbersome than 2008's. The running events don't wear out your arms to maintain a high speed NEARLY as much, the fencing doesn't feel limited and difficult to strike with anymore, and the variety of Dream Events is highly welcome. London Party Mode is like a more controllable variation of Mario Party whose only real fault is that it might drag out a bit too long, but you could just use the smaller sticker counts to alleviate that.

Overall, this score is unfair IMO (I would've gone with a 7), but I can understand why people would get tired of a franchise which doesn't really evolve. It SEEMS like Sega is pouring most of their allocated development funds for M&S into the upcoming 3DS version, which is boasting over 50 events as opposed to this one's 31.

LordTendoboy

#15

LordTendoboy said:

Are you NLife reviewers calling Smash Bros. Brawl a poor outing for Sonic's rivalry against Mario? Cause I remember when he was announced, everyone was ecstatic about having a Mario vs Sonic fight.

Colors

#17

Colors said:

You could tell that this game wouldn't be up to scratch right when you found out walking would be an event...

Henmii

#19

Henmii said:

Oh, a 5 is pretty harsh!

Anyway: No more sponsored sports stuff! We want a very cool 3D (or 2D) platforming game featuring Mario and Sonic. Featuring both universes, and made by people from Nintendo AND Sega! And make it exclusive to Nintendo devices! Make it happen!

Collinhall

#21

Collinhall said:

Wait James... I don't think I read that clearly...

You think the Smash Bros. series is rubbish!!!?!?!?!?!

D:

Tasuki

#22

Tasuki said:

@James: I thought so but just wanted to double check. I can never keep track as to what sport is in the Olympics but yeah now that I think about it since American Football is only in the US than it makes sense that it wont be in the Olympics.

BenAV

#23

BenAV said:

Nothing too unexpected there.
Sega did what they do best these days.

gusmento01

#24

gusmento01 said:

Actually the Beijing one wasn't really that fun in the first place, so if this one is worse I will stay away.

cyphid

#25

cyphid said:

I have yet to play ANY of these Mario & Sonic games. I just wasn't interested, not now either lol.

I know these games, especially the first two sold amazingly well for Sega; I glad but it's too bad some of their more original games couldn't get the same results.

XD375

#27

XD375 said:

You gotta love how there's a lot of SEGA hate here despite last year's Sonic Colors being easily the best Sonic game since the Genesis/Mega Drive, and this year's Sonic Generations 360/PS3 being amazing.

LEGEND_MARIOID

#28

LEGEND_MARIOID said:

@9 (@theblackdragon) ....it was a delayed reply to comment no.6 actually. Also, there seems to be a universal criticism of the Mario&Sonic franchise, but it actually an underrated series imho. This doesn't have the novelty value that's all. Also, the excellent winter olympics video game (9/10 NL review) is completely forgotten by the gaming public when commenting on the series as a whole. Why?

photofool83

#29

photofool83 said:

I haven't played the other two. So, I don't have anything to compare it to but I have been having a lot of fun with this title. That is, of course, in between playing Skyward Sword, Rayman Origins, Super Mario 3D Land and Sonic Generations. Also, I fully agree with @XD375 why all the hate? Sega is making some great games at the moment.

Wamtu

#31

Wamtu said:

@XD375: WOO YEAH! (Oh, and by the way, it's Sonic Generations Xbox 360/PS3/Steam!)
@photofool: Well, I guess that's why the site isn't called Segalife.

misswliu81

#32

misswliu81 said:

@XD375 true. and when you go on the sega websites, especially the main ones a lot of them hate nintendo as well. i saw one comment under the rhythm thief game for this person who said he wouldn't buy a 3DS for the game as he hated how SEGA lost the console war to nintendo all those years ago. which i think is a bit silly.

i'm a fan of both nintendo and sega and it is annoying sometimes to read comments from sega fans still hating on nintendo because they beat them with their SNES, N.E.S, gameboy, gamecube sales.

NovemberJoy

#33

NovemberJoy said:

Well, I guess it was to be expected. I don't like motion control on its own,(not nearly as responsive as buttons most of the time) but a game that uses nothing but motion control AND is a sports game is anything but up my alley. Seems like they should've put just a bit more effort into this game. Maybe touch up the events, remove the really terrible ones, and keep anything that's good.

Mryokokurama1

#34

Mryokokurama1 said:

Woah the commercial made it seem so good but this review makes it look like its bad dunno about this game anymore i thought it was pretty ok when i looked at the commercial though....

darklinkinfinite

#35

darklinkinfinite said:

Well that's a shame. I thought the first game was one of the Wii's better mini-game collections (the first Raving Rabbids is probably my personal favorite) and Nintendo Life loved the second game (which I still need to pick up). Oh well.

Who else thinks Mario and Sonic should quit with the Olympic warm ups and think its about time they release a proper 2D/3D crossover game? Bowser and Eggman team up and only Mario & Sonic can stop them!

SuperTeeter64

#36

SuperTeeter64 said:

I still want to get this game. It looks fun to me. I've seen a review on GameFAQs also give this game 8/10... So really, I'm going to wait on maybe a few more reviews before I decide 100%. Not saying this is a bad review, but... Just cause someone gave it a low score on here, doesn't really make it a bad game all together. It's just this person's opinion. I don't know... Maybe I'm speaking for nothing. :S
Seems a bit harsh and odd that this got such a low score and Winter Olympics got such big praise. I personally find the first ever M&S Olympic Games to be quite bad... This has more promise I think. Well... Yeah... Speaking up just cause...

Mryokokurama1

#37

Mryokokurama1 said:

I dont decide what games to get and not to get based off of reviews . i just like seeing what other people think. i just looked mat the 3ds version review and im surprised that it got a better score than this.

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