Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games (Nintendo 3DS) - Review by Andrew
Back in the days of the Megadrive and SNES it would have been inconceivable to even imagine that Sega's and Nintendo's most prized assets would team up in their very own video game. It's almost two decades since these consoles bowed out and it now seems that Sonic and Mario are old friends. The London Olympics is the third game in which they have teamed up after doing a similar thing in Beijing and then later in the Winter Games. Both of these pervious outings were hugely enjoyable which is no doubt why the International Olympic Committee selected SEGA to produce this official title for the London games. The developers have packed more events than ever into this offering but is it simply quantity over quality?
London 2012 Olympics presents the gamer with over 50 mini-games with a variety of ways in which to tackle the events. Unlike the Wii version (which was released late last year) these are truly mini-games with pursuits such as tennis or volleyball, limited to three rounds and football whittled down to basic penalty kicks. It's not only the length of these though but also the level of involvement and all of the games on offer here generally require one of two interactions making you occasionally feel more like a spectator that a competitor. In fact there's little here that requires any real skill at all and a large portion of what's on offer simply relies on timing or remembering a sequence of buttons. There is still the occasional highlight where you'll actually feel like you have some control over the outcome and some of the shooting and swimming games can actually become quite addictive.
Unusually, you can enter every one of the events from the beginning and there's no need to play them in a competition in order to unlock them. This means that you can practice some of the trickier games before challenging another player. Should you wish to indulge in something a little more immersive, you can jump into one of the Medley Events, which collects a variety of games together with the objective to gain the most points over the various events. This is an ideal way to work though the games, as you're never entirely sure what's coming next. The Story Mode is one part of the game you're going to either love or hate but we can't really see the point of it personally although it does look nice. Finally, the Multiplayer, and while there's no online facility, there is the ability to play with a group of friends locally even if they don't have a copy of the game. A feature that has sadly been omitted from the majority of recent releases.
We've already mentioned just how many events are on offer here and it's clear that the different disciplines require a variety of control inputs. Unfortunately this is where the problems begin and while each of the events is proceeded with a tutorial, of sorts, it's sometimes incredibly difficult to work out exactly which buttons to press and, more importantly, when to press them. Worse still, there appears to be different controls during the same sport so it's difficult to become an expert at archery as each event requires something completely different of the user. All of this makes for an incredibly frustrating experience and everything that worked so well in the first two outings appears to have been scrapped for this one.
Visually this is a very good-looking game indeed and is yet another shining example of how things can look on the 3DS. The characters and environments are expertly modeled and rendered and there's always a lot going on whether you are inside or outside of the stadium. The real highlight though can be found in the Story Mode, which everyone really should have a look at even it the plot itself is unlikely to pick up any awards.
The various musical pieces here are excellent and fitting for the worlds most prestigious sports event with additional sound effects that are minimal but effective. What isn't as pleasing are the mutterings from the various characters and they really are just mutterings. In fact some are so garbled it's easy to miss what they are saying regardless if they win or lose an event.
As with everything else in this game the developers have gone all out in order to use absolutely every single feature the 3DS has to offer and you'll not only constantly use the touch screen but also the microphone and built-in camera. The latter is used to upload your image and scores to a global ranking system. It's just a shame you can't actually play on-line.
The 3D effect actually works very well here and the added depth helps to make the odd event much more immersive. Unfortunately it also makes some of the games unplayable which is no fault of the visuals themselves but rather the problematic controls.
I've enjoyed the last few outings from Mario and Sonic but there's just something about this latest visit to London, which seems broken. The production values are high enough and the various events look and sound incredible. What does let the whole thing down though are the events themselves and while some of these are highly entertaining, the vast majority make for a frustrating and unrewarding experience. On the plus side it does have a fair bit of gameplay packed into the tiny cart and collecting Medals or acquiring the Best Global Scores will keep you going for sometime so long as you can stop shouting at your 3DS because you don't understand the controls.
Pro: Nice Visuals, Lots of Replay Value.
Con: Awkward Controls, Terrible Story Mode, No On-line Multiplayer
Final score: 6.8
|Developer:||SEGA Studio Japan|