Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games (Wii) Review

by

Date Released: November 15, 2011
Date Reviewed: December 3, 2011
Genre: Various Sports Party Game
Players: 1 to 4 Players
Length: 5-40 minutes for a single event, 20-100 minutes for London Party, full completion requires upwards of 30 hours
Replayability: Great

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Introduction

Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games is the third crossover game built around the iconic Super Mario and Sonic the Hedgehog video game franchises by Nintendo and SEGA, respectfully. This Wii title is a much different experience than the upcoming Nintendo 3DS release of the same name. An officially licensed Olympic Sporting Events party game designed for the upcoming 2012 Olympic Games in London, it succeeds in making an accessible title for all ages in the over saturated ‘Mini-game collection’ Wii market.

Concept

In the 1990s SEGA and Nintendo were fierce competitors in the video game console market, with their Genesis/Mega Drive, Game Gear, Super Nintendo and Game Boy. Outside of this, they also had Sonic and Mario as mascots representing them with all types of products that were not limited to just video games. Years later when SEGA left the home console market completely, they began designing games for and with Nintendo. The first game to see both characters together was Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games during the 2008 Beijing Olympics. As four years have passed since then, both characters appearing together in the same game is no longer that big of a deal, and the arguable quality of the previous games would be received even more harshly unless significant improvements had been met. For the most part, they have been.

Designed as a ‘Party game’ intended for multiple people to play at the same time and to be use the Wii Remote’s motion capabilties, the majority of the game requires players to swing, spin and twist the controller around to emulate the feel of actually being part of an event featured in the Olympics.

Gameplay

Typically both game franchises are best known for being platformer games where a player must traverse on and through various locations. Mario is iconic for jumping onto platforms while Sonic is known for his speed when rolling through walls or loops. Neither of these are really focused on in Mario & Sonic 2012 Olympics, but instead all characters are given a neutral feel so that no one in particular feels overpowered. However, each character has their own stats correctly relating to them, like Knuckles and Donkey Kong being strong or Dr Robotnik (AKA Eggman) and Princess Peach having better technical abilities, such as balance. Some events even allow characters to use brief use of their character-specific powers for a short burst of speed or to stay in the air for a bit longer, like Tails using flight. Although these might seem like cheating, the effect is not significantly different from one character to the next and players will be able to easily enjoy their personal favorite of the cast without feeling they are at a severe disadvantage in any event.

[Some events give a player control of more than one character, but if multiple people are playing, there is an option to work together instead]

Events are the main focus of Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games. There are 30 available with all of them being unlocked right from the start and all having the option to play with a group of 4 people. Many of these even have multiple variants, such as several running tracks that all play differently and require different mentalities to complete. Although many events included have overwhelming amounts of details behind every game, the majority are very easy to understand and learn with one or two attempts.

The fan-favorite Dream Events from past Mario & Sonic Olympic Games return, but are all new. Based on locations and occurrences from Super Mario and Sonic the Hedgehog games from the past, these are all designed to play unrealistically and are usually much longer than the other events. Most of these are very bizarre compared to Dream Events in past Mario & Sonic Olympic Games, and because they use locations from recognizable titles, most will likely assume these are the most enjoyable portion of the game, but this is not the case.

London Party replaces the Festival Mode from Mario & Sonic at the Winter Olympic Games. Instead of being single-player centric, this mode is designed that four people are always playing, with computer-controlled characters joining empty unused playable slots. Characters go around a cartoon-like mix-matched London and collect various items and talk to characters walking around. Most of these lead off into very short mini-games separate from the main Events and Dream Events, and feel as if most are thrown together fast, such as running around the same field collecting items, chasing one another, solving basic trivia questions or other simplistic games with basic controls. As there are 50 and only a very few of these are seen in one playthrough of London Party, they do not become repetitive and serve as a way to help one recover their personal stamina after some of the more physically demanding Events or Dream Events take place.

To become the London Party champion, players do not necessarily have to be the most skilled. After winning an event, mini-game or concluding some sort of mission, the players are given stickers to fill up a board with, and once all of one player’s are completely filled the game is over. There are other ways to obtain these, and some random special games will come up where the player doing the worst may be able to come out as of nowhere and lead the entire game. Although party games like Mario Party or Sonic Shuffle have done similar concepts with results that feel very unfair, Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games‘ London Party mode has a solid balance and never feels as if the computer or clever players can cheat. Every portion of it is designed as if players are playing for the first time, but none of it seems as if the game is treating anyone as stupid. A very uncommon blend in a party game, but a welcome one.

[Some mini-games feel inspired by many classic games from throughout the medium, such as Pac-Man or ExciteBike]

Along with the seemingly endless collection of stickers from London Party mode, nearly 1,000 unlockables are included outside of it. These include everything from remixed songs from past Super Mario or Sonic the Hedgehog titles that can be used for any event or Dream Event and customizable outfits to use on any of the console’s Miis, some of which are references from popular games from both Nintendo and SEGA, like Link’s outfit from The Legend of Zelda series or Joe Musashi’s from the Shinobi series. Players having trouble understanding a certain event with numerous failed attempts will not feel discouraged as the game awards the player by how long they played instead of just how well, with the game’s mail system having characters from both franchises send letters of encouragement or gifts. Even the absolute unluckiest and worst players will be able to eventually unlock everything the game has to offer with perseverance.

Controls

The learning curve in past Mario & Sonic Olympic Games has been a common issue, particularly with sensitivity and coordination. The difference is clear from the start here however, as a much lower focus is given to how players move the controller, but that they move it at all. Previous titles in the series required the use of both the Wii Remote and Nunchuck for some events, but Mario & Sonic 2012 Olympics gives the option for players to use just the Wii Remote in all events if chosen, making the game accessible to new owners of the Wii console. The game will instantly recognize what each player is using and will instantly be paused if someone has the incorrect control method.

Events that use the Wii Remote to mimic the real-life counterpart, like table tennis, badminton and even horse-back riding all work exactly as they should and in some cases are impressive for the controller. With all of the good events, a few are still designed very poorly; A perfect example is the discus throw, an overly confusing mess of steps the player needs to quickly recognize when it seems as if it should be incredibly simple. Although likewise, with friends the more unruly Events become enjoyable if a person chooses an Event another player does not understand. The game attempts to combat occurrences like this by including a generally easy to comprehend list included in the minus button’s pause menu. Each event also has on-screen actions where a pair of floating gloves demonstrate a movement the player can use at the time necessary, and it never gets in the way of something they need to see.

[Players will visit locations from past games starring Mario, Sonic or their friends in the Dream Events]

Sound originalreviews

The sound direction is largely uninspired. Although some characters will use noises that are iconic to them such as Mario’s jump, average events do not have many different sounds. The same trampoline bounces or other various effects are not necessarily an issue, but the small amount of dialog does become exceedingly repetitive. All characters have basic grunts, loss and victory calls, but not much else. As this has been an issue in all previous Mario & Sonic games, it is a hugely confusing mistake on the sound directors’ parts.

The soundtrack is a much different case. Although both the Super Mario and Sonic the Hedgehog franchises are known for their great music, they have very, very different styles completely. With that in mind, it is particularly fascinating how well done the majority of the songs are in the game, all feeling perfect for not one of the characters, but both. With a majestic main theme, game themes that range from serious to silly and remixes from all throughout both the Mario and Sonic character’s over 50 combined years of game history, the soundtrack really stands out as a triumphant mixture of both hugely different franchises and deserves much respect. It is actually quite sad to not see some of these wonderful remixes in the recently released Super Mario 3D Land or Sonic Generations.

Visuals

Artistically designing a world that works for both Mario and Sonic together would have always been a challenging matter, but much of this does not come up as the art is mostly based on real-world locations found in London, albeit a much more colorful version. Graphically the game is better than average for the Wii console, but there is a striking lack of detail in some events. Footprints are not made in the sand, the majority of characters only have one set of clothes and swim in overalls, boots and chains. In contrast, all of the female characters have different outfits and it is notable that Sonic uses a life preserver when swimming as he is the only character that cannot. The fact that some change but not all comes off as lazy, especially when there are events like fencing involved.

A fairly disappointing addition is that all of the Dream Events use the exact same assets from many past games in both franchises, meaning largely only the past ten years for both characters are represented. At the same time, it also makes proves games like Sonic Adventure were very ahead of their time that the difference between them and the rest of Mario & Sonic 2012 Olympics‘ graphics are not readily apparent.

Character animations are what to be expected of party games with numerous types of actions required for everyone. From a distance it is hard for players to see anything wrong, but when any character’s face is shown up close it becomes wildly apparent how robotic and creepy they can be. Many of the less unique characters like Daisy or Silver stand out the most with awkward open mouths and barely any eye movement. Even with so many different types of games to play, much of this will still become an issues, especially with something that demands a lot of movement, like soccer or beach volleyball. In these cases, the game looks very outdated.

[All characters have their own gameplay and win/lose animations]

Conclusion

Although past Mario & Sonic Olympic titles have been unusual quality, the latest release takes full advantage of all the best elements from past games and improves or replaces lingering issues that are common with official Olympics video games and common developer mistakes with the Wii console in general. With a wonderful soundtrack, great presentation, normally easy to understand mechanics and general ease of use, Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games is a great game to play with friends or family of any age, even if they are unaware of the Super Mario or Sonic the Hedgehog brands. It is possibly the best video game based around the Olympics.

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Formats: Wii and Nintendo 3DS

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One Response to “Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games (Wii) Review”

  1. Zofia Bartman Says:

    I’m not sure where you’re getting your information, but good topic. I needs to spend some time learning more or understanding more. Thanks for fantastic info I was looking for this info for my mission.

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