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Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games (Nintendo 3DS) Review

Review for Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games on Nintendo 3DS - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Although F-Zero GX on the GameCube marked the first official development collaboration between once-mortal-enemies Nintendo and SEGA, it wouldn’t be until the Wii’s second year on shop shelves that history would truly be made. In March of 2007, both companies announced that their most popular characters would finally star in the same title together; not in a platformer that many still wish to see, but in a sporting venue that would keep alive the competitiveness that Super Nintendo and SEGA Genesis/Mega Drive owners once had with each other. Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games became a runaway hit, and whilst it didn’t do anything to alleviate the Wii’s unfortunate number of mini-game titles, it added another notch to the multiplayer library advantage the machine held over its HD competition. There was also a Winter Games equivalent a year or so later, and to round off a trilogy is London’s 2012 tie-in. The Nintendo DS also played host to portable renditions of the game, and Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games marks the first appearance of the series on the 3DS. So does it sprint towards the finish line with ease, or stumble at the starting block?

Operating under the same premise as the previous two games, Sonic and his friends have gotten together in London to compete in the Olympics, together with Mario and company. Whereas before when players would simply select events, characters and rules to start playing with, this game features a stronger single-player offering with a full story mode. In this mode, Dr Eggman and Bowser have teamed up, and, in revenge for being left out of the invites for the Games, have created a fog machine to blanket London and prevent the Games from happening. The story follows a branching path with multiple events and scenarios for each block, as the other characters battle against the imposter ghosts that arise from the fog. Whilst the story is a decent distraction, and an ideal way for beginners to get accustomed to the varying games before diving into the rest of the cartridge’s contents, its presentation isn’t the best. Light-hearted as the tale may be, it is very simplistic and does little to present the uniqueness of each of the characters, with only text and repeated sayings from the otherwise mute characters.

Screenshot for Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games on Nintendo 3DS - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Playing through this mode, however, highlights one of Mario & Sonic’s greatest strengths, in that it uses the internal power and output to great effect. Although the story event surroundings leave a lot to the imagination, the events themselves are crisp, bright and colourful. Each character is animated incredibly well, and most are given signature poses and techniques in certain events, with Blaze’s fire and Shadow’s Chaos Control being notable examples. Adding to this is the 3D effect, in a case where the added dimension greatly benefits the game in being able to judge distance better; the Trampoline event in particular showcasing this advantage the strongest, though added icons offset this for those without the ability to see 3D. In many games the 3D switch hinders framerate, but not here where it stays stable all the while.

The soundtrack is also a notable highlight; whilst not quite reaching the dizzying peaks of a Super Smash Bros. game, there are a fair few decent remixes and replays of popular Mario and Sonic tunes in the game, coupled with some classical pieces for certain events. Speech is used sparingly with just sound bites and text, and although it isn’t exactly unusual to see Mario say very little, the Sonic side of things definitely feels at odds with his regular chatty self.

Screenshot for Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games on Nintendo 3DS - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Another great strength of the game is its willingness to use every input feature the 3DS has to offer, including some of the most robust Touch Screen usage out of a 3DS game yet. This usually involves little more that drawing circles of good symmetry to swim faster or swipe at an angle to throw a javelin, but it is good to see a title that doesn’t focus everything on the top screen all the time. Also supported is tilt control and, naturally, button and directional input, to help diversify each event further. Tilting the unit does conflict with the sweet spot the user needs to focus on the 3D screen, but in this case it is rarely an issue; the events usually either require the movement when it isn’t necessary to look at the screen like when spinning the hammer in the Hammer Throw, or just needing to lower the unit in a vertical movement that doesn’t break the effect like in the Long Jump. Even the Microphone gets some usage, with a few complimentary stares on the bus if you shout into it as the Weightlifting event requests you to do, though in this and all others just a simple hard blow will suffice.

The events themselves, while diverse in both quality and quantity, initially feel like cut-down versions of full events, as for higher number races and marathon distances you usually only interact with the last segment. What starts off as an odd limitation for the game actually ends up benefitting the portable quick-fire nature of the 3DS, as, where in a console game you could sit and focus on a long event, handhelds are better suited for shorter sessions of play. This is made most evident in the main single-player mode’s Medley matches, where you can pick either Standard or Quick versions, the latter skipping character choice and opening event tutorials.

Screenshot for Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games on Nintendo 3DS - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Selecting a Medley match opens a category list, which lets you choose either the types of games you’d like to play under themed headings with London Games or Variety categories, or the Party Mix selection. Party Mix in particular acts like a quicker round of Mario Party with special games to mix up point totals, and even a snapshot feature that takes a picture of your expression to use in the final total-up.

The multiplayer feature is well-represented here, alas, with unfortunate limits. Multi-card play and single-card transfer are both supported, allowing anyone without their own copy of the game to join in the fun, but only local play has proper support. Sadly, aside from online leaderboard rankings that have to be painstakingly updated manually on an event-by-event basis, there is no direct internet competition to be had, for a game that would have benefitted so much from it. In a similar daft decision, Streetpass features are also omitted, with no way to trade records and information with other sleep-mode 3DS owners, and there is no usage for Play Coins either, which feels like a surprising oversight given the potential image of the walking required for them and the sporting game they could be used in. Although these missing features give the impression of a limited game, there is still a fair bit of longevity to it, due to the large number of events and the difficulty in getting all the medals for each, plus a fairly lengthy story endeavour. However, potential buyers had best consider this title a stronger single-player effort than a connected one.

Screenshot for Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games on Nintendo 3DS- on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review


A very decent level of Touch Screen usage combined with clever input requirements from the rest of the 3DS features. The brief nature of the events gives the impression of limited content at first but are ultimately a great asset for pure handheld gaming.


Strong, colourful and packed with personality, together with 3D that not only broadens the visuals but aids many of the events. Story Mode backgrounds leave a lot to be desired, but all in all this is a fine looking game.


Although some are hard to make out, there are a number of great remixes and reuses of memorable tracks from both franchises in the game. Voicework is used sparingly to both positive and negative effect, but remains unobtrusive and of good quality.


Completing everything the single player has to offer will take up a great deal of time for any player, but the lack of true online ability and connectivity outside of multiplayer links leaves the endurance of the game in question.

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

About this score
Rated 8 out of 10

Mario and Sonic’s sporting antics make for an enjoyable 3DS debut that radiates character and graphical prowess, together with a wide array of varying competitive events and versatile methods of play, though a weaker multiplayer offering ensures a Silver Medal for Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games’ long-range appeal.

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Senior ModeratorStaff Member

I'm really impressed with how this has sold on 3DS so far. It appears to be doing almost as well as the DS game, which is stunning given the difference in userbase!

Good stuff, Shane Smilie

Adam Riley < Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited >
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter
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There's a demo on the store now fellow Europeans! Have a go and see what you think. Smilie

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Phoenixus said:
There's a demo on the store now fellow Europeans! Have a go and see what you think. Smilie
Played the demo. It's pretty good, I doubt I would buy it myself though.

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