Game Review

Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games Review

Europe PAL Version

Posted by Mark Reece

Must train harder

2007's Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games on Wii marked the two once arch-nemeses' – in the eyes of us children of the nineties, anyway – first side-by-side appearance that didn't involve them attempting to wallop seven shades of snot out of each other. It was a solid sports offering that exemplified the minigame collection genre's ability to bring players of all ages together and partake in some simple fun.

However, as last year's Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games proved, after three instalments on both Wii and DS the series has dwindled in quality and appeal in the intervening four or five years. The mishmash of overly simplistic gameplay styles of varying quality just doesn't cut it any more. Which brings us around to Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games for 3DS, a game that epitomises how hit and miss execution can make or break a game of this ilk.

The 50+ Olympic events included certainly offer up a great deal of variety; Mario & Sonic 2012 can pride itself on that if nothing else. They're also never more than a few button presses away thanks to tidily presented and uncluttered menus, so partaking in single or custom set-ups of more than one event – which are referred to as medleys in-game – is a quick, simple exercise. Great presentation extends to the events themselves; the crisp, clean visuals could be mistaken for those of the Wii version on occasion, while the 3D effects are put to good use in a few events – a bird's eye view of the action makes the added sense of depth invaluable for centring your character in the trampoline event, for example.

Unfortunately, while its colossal event list sounds great on paper, Mario & Sonic 2012 suffers from the all too familiar “mixed bag syndrome” that many games in the genre stumble into. Whereas many events are executed well enough – though simultaneously are by no means crowning achievements – there are far too many sports included in which the control schemes are simply ill-conceived. The majority of sports utilising the microphone and gyroscope controls are outright terrible; luckily an ample amount of the touch screen or button-based events are playable enough so that you can feasibly avoid the duff sports while still having a sizeable chunk of content to play.

However, even the events that are at the very least bearable suffer from being stripped down versions of their Wii counterparts, relinquishing only the most basic of input to the player. Sports like tennis, badminton and volleyball don't allow players to move around the court and find the best position from which to return the ball; rather, the AI handles character movement and all you need to concern yourself with is thwacking the ball or shuttlecock in the right direction. Additionally football/soccer, for example, is reduced from full matches to nothing but penalty shoot-outs.

If ploughing through every available event via the list – impressive in length though it may be – sounds about as much fun as hugging barbed wire, Mario & Sonic 2012 includes a story mode that introduces new events at a steady pace. The plot opens with Bowser and Dr Eggman holed up inside Big Ben, understandably miffed that they've not been invited to the Olympic Games. In retaliation, Eggman has constructed a bevy of machines that are blanketing London in a dense multicoloured mist called the Phantasmal Fog in a bid to get the Games cancelled, with the odd side-effect being that it creates fog-based imitations of our heroes. It's up to Mario, Sonic and an all-star cast of familiar Nintendo and SEGA faces to put an end to the villains' scheme and get the London 2012 Olympic Games back on track.

The story is divided up into episodes, each one featuring a handful of characters as they try to figure out where the fog has come from and how to stop it. Every episode contains a set number of challenges consisting of up to five predetermined events; gaining a gold medal in (usually half of) the challenges opens up the next episode. Story mode is a marginally more interesting way to be introduced to the various events; however, while it's cool to find out which characters were included, the story is as bare-bones and flat as they come and feels like unnecessary padding.

It's also a tenuous way in which to link the various events together, concerning itself very little with such oddities as Olympic events being a viable way for the gang to stop the nefarious duo's diabolical scheme, or how the characters can all of a sudden find themselves transported from Tower Bridge into a packed Olympic venue before the Games have even begun, or even why Sonic for some unexplained reason can't run the 100m sprint in two seconds flat.

It shouldn't take players longer than five hours to see the story's conclusion – although there are bonus episodes available upon completion – and once that's done and dusted, Mario & Sonic 2012 includes both single- and multi-cart multiplayer for up to four people along with a myriad of collectable badges and stickers that are attainable by gaining gold medals in events or spending tokens acquired in-game. Custom event medleys can also be traded, although only locally with friends who also own the game as, bewilderingly, there's no StreetPass support.

Conclusion

The Mario & Sonic games were once a shining example of how minigame collections should be developed. However, while Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games is technically no worse than its forebears, its events are too much of a mixture when it comes to quality and after four years the blemishes and inconsistencies are beginning to wear thin. It's by no means a train wreck and a valiant first effort for the series in its jump to 3DS, but with the next inevitable release due in two years it's imperative that Nintendo and SEGA use that time to iron out the wrinkles and make this the all-star collaboration it truly deserves to be.

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Game Trailer

The two rivals go head-to-head once more on 3DS in February 2012!

User Comments (52)

TKOWL

#1

TKOWL said:

Hmm, I'll just wait until this one reduces in price then. Shame, I was looking forward to it.

Shining-Void

#2

Shining-Void said:

I was hoping for a higher score. I've noticed the Mario&Sonic games aren't getting much better.

TheKingOfTown

#3

TheKingOfTown said:

I never thought this series was good in the first place. Can't believe Winter Olympics got a 9.

CapedGodot

#4

CapedGodot said:

From the demo, I kinda like it. Not enough to warrant buying it, by any means, but I find it an enjoyable pick-up-and-play type game.

JJOR64

#5

JJOR64 said:

I think I will pick this up once I can find it somewhere for about $20.

Bankai

#6

Bankai said:

Way, way too generous.

The earlier games in the series (especially the Winter Olympics game on the DS) were simple, yes, but there was something to them. Ice Skating had multiple music tracks to choose between. There were multiple courses for the snowboarding.

This game has none of that. The minigames are, at their best, about as deep and lasting as the Mario Party minigames. At worse they're Warioware quality.

This is a terrible game, and a big disappointment. I loved the Winter Olympics game. I hate this one.

MagicEmperor

#7

MagicEmperor said:

Yeah, I played the demo of this, and I was so unimpressed. I promptly deleted it after I was finished. I'll give this game a pass. I admire your sense of humor, Mark. "Seven shades of snot." Heh. That's awesome.

Noire

#8

Noire said:

Is that ... is that Sonic participating in a speedwalking contest?

I just ... don't even.

SilverArrow

#10

SilverArrow said:

Wow. Just wow.
This is the first time I have heard someone bad-mouth a MS game.
@ChocoGoldfish Since when was Mario Party and Warioware terrible? Seems to me that your only pointing out the bad points of those games and this game. It's just to have fun, not be hardcore.

Geonjaha

#11

Geonjaha said:

@6 Strange to compare it to Mario Party Minigames as being worse, and Warioware being even more so when popularity of the franchises moves in the opposite direction.

DarkEdi

#12

DarkEdi said:

I played the demo and i give it a 8. I don´t know if the complete version has uninspired minigames but the demo selection was really good.

Tasuki

#13

Tasuki said:

It was a fun demo and I did like the previous games in the series but honestly I have yet to be steered wrong by a review on NL.

I think I will rent this one from GameFly before I buy it and see how much I like it.

Bankai

#14

Bankai said:

Warioware minigames are fun in the context of a Warioware game.

This game positions the minigames as standalone events. It doesn't work. This game required minigames of the same kind of depth and challenge as Wii Sports

Imagine23

#15

Imagine23 said:

Man, they really can't seem to make the games a "must have," it's always winds up as a "i'll think about it"

Lunapplebloom

#16

Lunapplebloom said:

I got it yesterday for Valentines day. It's an ok game for pick up and play, but I wouldn't recommend it at full price. It's just ok and nothing more. I agree with this review.

OrdonianLink

#17

OrdonianLink said:

I personally own the other 2 copies for my DS and still plan on buying the game, I enjoy it, I could honestly say the only events in the demo I didnt enjoy were BMX and soccer, (Mainly because it was my first time, so I was a bit confused) and I mean, your nit-picky about not moving during tennis? I mean, come one! Wii Sports got a good score and you couldn't move in tennis, and with soccer, its practically like the basketball in WS Resort, you just shoot. And how sonic can't complete the 100m run in 2 seconds or whatever? Its a GAME for crying out loud, and he wasnt able to in the first one either. Story mode on another note, doesnt really need a fufilling story that leaves a warm place in your heart like Skyward Sword for example, its a game about the olympics... what we're you expecting?! Just boggles my mind what got docked down in this review.

Rm88

#21

Rm88 said:

I honestly, honestly wish they would stop making these games. They're pretty much the lowest possible tier of Mario spin-offs.

K964

#22

K964 said:

Did the reviewer even try multiplayer? Even the worst games when shared with a friend, can still make for fun times. Urban Champion is one example.

Scissors

#23

Scissors said:

I'm naked and lonely. Maybe crying my tears into this bottle will make me feel better about my self worth.

Ecto-1

#25

Ecto-1 said:

Ehh... tried the demo, and, while it wasn't necessarily bad, the quality of the minigames seemed to vary wildly. The gun shooting event and the trampoline thing were fairly interesting, but others like the swimming thing and the bike race were terrible in my opinion.

I have to say though, that first screenshot is hilarious. Its like Sonic's dream come true!

k8sMum

#26

k8sMum said:

i was very disappointed with the demo and deleted it after just a few plays.

eviLaTtenDant

#27

eviLaTtenDant said:

The li'l fanboy in me still wants to get this when it's in the 15€ range.
But this is another series that would be perfect for Wii(U) <-> 3DS connectivity. Imagine it with a light RPG part and slightly different events between the games. It would be great to interchange your stats between the two versions. :)

AUnkownFuture

#29

AUnkownFuture said:

I dont like being the kind of person who disagrees with reviews. Unfortunately, this is one review i disagree with. I bought Mario and Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games the first day it was released. Sure that i maybe having problems with the motion sensor with certain events, but that doesnt mean the score has to be given a 6. There are some events i enjoy playing such as... Judo, Boxing and Athletics. I would give this game a score of 7. 6 is just not right.

AUnkownFuture

#31

AUnkownFuture said:

@battleToaD: So i could be wrong about that motion controls work on some events and the score would still be the same. Thats really your opinion and i respect that. Ive no problems playing shooting events with the motion controls. I just think there is one event that i would not play and i cant exactly remember the name of the event but its a girls event and im just having a bit of difficulty with it.

NintyMan

#32

NintyMan said:

Meh, I still think I'll get the game, but not for another couple months. I have the Wii version and while it's not the best sports/party game on the Wii, it's not that bad and is fine for pick-up-and-play. That's the main reason why I'll get this version, and pick-up-and-play is even better on a handheld. If anything, I wish there were dream events on this version, but the story mode makes up for it for me, even if it doesn't have the most engaging storyline. Mario games don't have deep storylines outside the RPGs anyway.

Samholy

#33

Samholy said:

the demo was awful.
buy this only if the 3DS owner is a pre-school kid. no blood,gore,violence. hyper simple gameplay.

LEGEND_MARIOID

#34

LEGEND_MARIOID said:

The Wii and DS games are generally very good, especially in multiplayer. Big fan of the series overe here. Haven't played the 3DS one yet. Sounds ok actually. Sort of a cross between touchmaster/warioware/mario+sonic for the 3DS features but not quite as good as any of those games.

LEGEND_MARIOID

#35

LEGEND_MARIOID said:

By the way good revw. I agree the M+S series needs to evolve a tad better not in baby steps whilst still having the kinks

Shotgunryugan

#36

Shotgunryugan said:

I owned the first two games on the Wii.

The first game was mediocre at it's best,the second game was by far the most enjoyable sports title i have ever played.

i have only played the 3DS demo and i completely hated it,i'm going to skip both versions of 2012,Winter Olympic is the best one in my opinion,great review,another game i'm skipping :/

Mr_Reece

#39

Mr_Reece said:

@everyone It'd be remiss of me to not remind you all that a 6/10 in no way means the game is awful. If you have nothing against the series and its hit and miss nature, you'll probably love M&S London 2012. But its faults needed to be addressed in the review for those readers who have no prior experience with these games.

Remember: 6/10 = "not bad"

NikkiChu

#42

NikkiChu said:

Disappointing, I haven't liked any of the Wii Mario&Sonic Olympic titles, but I LOVED Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games for the DS. That was legitimately one of the biggest surprise games of the platform for me.

I was hoping this game was have as good a story mode as that one had, apparently not. :(
I'll still give it a try though, after seeing how good it's predecessor was it deserves that much.

Kage_88

#43

Kage_88 said:

I'll stick with the Wii version, thank you very much.

I knew I wasn't going to get this once I learnt about how rough you need to be with the 3DS in order to play it.

Destroying my N64 control stick with Mario Party was enough thanks SEGA...

Mryokokurama1

#44

Mryokokurama1 said:

Just try the game out dnt not just get it beacuse of a review i learned that the hard way. But ill be getting the wii version instead its alot better and the multiplayer is awsome.

AutumnShantel

#45

AutumnShantel said:

I think I'll end up with it anyways, I've never had a game of this series, but played one for the Wii and enjoyed it. I'll wait a while, though.

LEGEND_MARIOID

#46

LEGEND_MARIOID said:

The demo is a poor indicator of this game as its a collection of games that lie half way between micro games and mini games. Imagine if you knew nothing of Warioware and played it as a demo! You'd probably hate it.

It does a good job of shaking up the series and trying to do something else. Also, makes a good case of getiing both the 3DS version and the Wii version as the are very different takes on the London OLympics.

Its probably one of the very best pick and play and timepass games on the 3DS. I'd give it a high 7 although the review and comments by the review are very fair and very good.

Moreso for fans this one I'd say

SonicSpeed

#48

SonicSpeed said:

I downloaded the demo to see what it was like.I deleted it straight away I played it twice then deleted. :(
What a waste of 999 blocks!

Mryokokurama1

#49

Mryokokurama1 said:

Yeah the demo wasnt good it proved the 3ds version is not that great instead i will get the wii version when the price drops.

gamergoddess

#50

gamergoddess said:

I guess it mainly depends on what your gaming style is; hardcore action, family friendly, etc. I personally enjoyed the demo and think the game was more designed for long car rides and other reasons of pass-time enjoyment.

ZulFoDK

#51

ZulFoDK said:

I bought it after trying the demo, and playing the DS M&S at the Olympics but there is NO comparing the two games!

London OL is mostly a case of pressing the right button at the right time - and then nothing more, and you often get just ONE try at an event, thats just silly!

Now my game is put up for sale!!

Lyndexer

#52

Lyndexer said:

I was looking forward to this game so much for a new character to join the cast... Guess not. It does have good graphics, though.

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