When is this out on DS or 3DS?
It will be an exciting time in Great Britain next year when London hosts the Olympic Games. By now we all know what every Olympic event brings with it, don’t we? That’s right - a new party game collaboration between two of the most famous faces in video games. Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games has arrived on the Wii, after strong success of the plumber and hedgehog’s last two appearances in Beijing and Vancouver. Could this third game in the motion-controlled sports series be the ideal family gift this Christmas?
This edition of Mario & Sonic is back to the same type of summer events from the first game. That means no winter sports, but instead track and field, gymnastics, aquatics and other athletic contests. No new characters have been added, so it’s the same 20 character roster from Mario & Sonic at the Winter Olympic Games, as well as the option to play as your Mii. There are a few new events and a party mode this time around, though.
Familiar competitions return, with all games relying on motion controls. Before each event the game advises which control method to use, whether that be Wii Remote held vertically, on its side, or connected to a Nunchuk. However, many games can be played without the attachment, so you can sometimes choose whatever you feel comfortable with. Events like 100m Sprint, 110m Hurdles and 100m Freestyle swimming involve shaking the Wii Remote and Nunchuk alternately as quick as you can, with the A and B buttons performing various actions such as jumping over hurdles or turning around in the water. Some games require you to time your motions precisely in order to achieve the best record you can. Prompts will pop up on screen to tell you when you should perform your actions, with the goal being to hit those ‘Perfect’ timing points. It can sometimes take a little while to figure out the exact moment you need to move, but this varies from game to game.
The new events are pretty interesting and you’ll likely find your favourite ones after not too long. Rhythmic Ribbon sees you choosing a theme to dance along to and then performing up and down motions with the Wii Remote in time to the music. Markers on the floor indicate what to do when your character automatically runs over them. Synchronised swimming is another game all about timing, with you choosing four characters and having them perform to the music. However, the motions in this event require you to be quicker and hold poses in up, down, left and right positions, sometimes requiring you to move your arms in a continuous motion from the side to above your head, for example. This can be difficult to get the hang of at the beginning, but it actually feels pretty fun once you get it and are performing in time with the music.
Equestrian, which is basically a horse-riding obstacle course, is another new event. Again, timing is the key to this one, but it features a little bit of everything, from shaking the Remote and Nunchuk to gallop, to hitting A to jump the fences, and also tilting the controllers to maintain your balance around corners. The tilt motions don’t seem to register properly all the time after galloping into the turns, so slowing down a lot to ensure accuracy seems the way to go. Some of the more fun events added include football, beach volleyball and badminton. Football comes across as a really watered down Mario Strikers Charged Football, with control and tackling feeling sloppy, especially noticeable if you’ve played the dedicated Mario football games on GameCube or Wii. Movement is slower but again, like most events in this game, it doesn’t take too long to get to grips with, and once you’ve learnt to deal with how it plays, it’s definitely enjoyable, and even more so with friends.
Badminton and Beach Volleyball are similar to each other, but the latter allows for full movement control with the Nunchuk. In Badminton, your two team players move on their own and you only need to swing the Remote to bat the shuttlecock back, which keeps things simple. One problem does creep into play occasionally, whereby you expect your character or teammate to reach it but they don’t, sometimes costing you a point or requiring a furious swing to hit it back on the second attempt. In Volleyball, you can move around the sand court using the analogue stick and a marker points to where the ball will land. Volleyball isn’t new to Mario - it was a game in Mario Sports Mix - and it doesn’t feel too different here. It’s still stripped down a bit compared to the Sports Mix version, but special moves do feature, which also applies in Badminton. After the ball has been kept alive for a period of time, eventually your characters will emit a glow and can perform a special smash. Depending on the character, they alter slightly, but all tend to smash the ball or shuttlecock back with extreme force. These events are definitely where some of the most fun lies.
Dream Events are fantasy competitions unrelated to the real Olympic contests. Most appealing is that these events take place in various levels from previous Mario and Sonic games, complete with familiar music to boot. With Dream Long Jump, you play in a gorgeous Yoshi’s Story picture book level, you and three other characters hopping along clouds to try to reach the furthest point, all whilst dodging enemies and escaping pitfalls. Dream Rafting has a group of characters maintaining balance on a circular raft, trying to stay afloat, dodging and defeating enemies and collecting coins, and then facing off against a boss at the end. Working together is key to success in this one. Dream Equestrian is another co-operative event that sees your team shifting left and right to keep Yoshi eggs from falling out the back of a wagon as you race down a Moo Moo Meadows-like track. Dream Discus is completely different to the event’s original format, players hopping on the discus like a skateboard and using it to fly through a famous Sonic Adventure level, trying to collect as many rings as possible and dodging enemies. Dream Spacewalk has you flying through space, Super Mario Galaxy-style, and smashing into a Dino Piranha, again using teamwork to bring success.
New to the series is a mode called London Party. It’s slightly similar in style to the Mario Party games, except without the boards. It can be played single or multiplayer, with four characters always involved. The goal is to collect stickers won from mini-games and events to fill up your sticker book the fastest. You can choose how many stickers are needed to win, which determines how long the party lasts for (anywhere from 30 minutes to 90 minutes). The players start in a top-down area of the streets of London and get to briefly run around the maze-like area, picking up items to run faster and stun others, all the while trying to pick up any stickers or speak to non-playable characters. Speaking to one will activate a mini-game which may or may not be an Olympic event. Some games involve simple tasks such as trying to collect the most coins on the London streets or getting the most correct answers in a quiz. Unlike playing the mini-games on their own, London Party is best suited for actual get-togethers with friends or family. It gets boring quickly on your own, much like the Mario Party games.
There is a fair bit of additional content to unlock. This includes outfits for your Mii, containing costumes of Mario and Sonic characters, and some fantastic remixed music from each mascot’s games which you can set to play in any event. As well as filling up your sticker collection, there are challenges to complete, such as getting gold in every event or setting Olympic records. Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection is also utilised to allow the uploading of high scores to leaderboards, which is a welcome feature.
If you have played any of the previous Mario & Sonic games, then you’ll know exactly what you’re getting with Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games. Much like the Mario Party games, they aren’t really designed solely for single-player experiences. The true fun is always in multiplayer, so if you’re looking for a game for all of your friends and family this Christmas, this is definitely the one to pick up.
Motion controls work very well for the most part, making it easy enough that even your grandad will be claiming Olympic record breaking javelin throws. Motion niggles will occur, but it’s usually a case of sticking with it and learning the exact timing and how much to move your arms for it to register. Movement in football and London Party feels sluggish.
Character models in particular are solid and smooth, but the dodgy sprites used for the crowd and other close by characters look like something from Nintendo 64.
Fans of Mario and Sonic games will adore unlocking the remixes of their favourite tunes. Being able to choose which tracks to play during each event is a wonderful feature.
This won’t last long if you don’t have anyone else to play with, unless you can really stick out trying to beat every challenge and unlock everything the game has to offer (which is pretty much just costumes for your Mii and music). Get friends and family together though, and you’ll always find yourself coming back to multiplayer.
As you would expect, Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games is all about the multiplayer. The new contests added are fun, and the crazy Dream Events offer a satisfying alternative that fans of Mario and Sonic games will smile at when playing through famous levels. London Party provides a Mario Party-like competition that is definitely needed to offer some variety, but some of the mini-games involved aren’t up to scratch as compared with the main events and movement feels sloppy. That said, Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games is still the party game to play with friends and family this Christmas.
When is this out on DS or 3DS?
I am curious about this one - I've got the Winter Olympics from last year, quite liked it, so these events should be better given it's in London toown!