Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games|
Mario and Sonic and basically the entire Sega cast of characters assembles once again for the London 2012 Olympics, this time on the 3DS, for all sorts of new ways to play more than 50 events from the Summer Games. Previously released on the Wii, the console version offered a more complete experience whereas the 3DS version has been stripped of several of my favorite events and the ones that did remain have been turned into mini-games, pale shadows of their former selves, most of which last only a few seconds.
While this might appeal to the gamer on the go who wants to sneak in a quick Javelin Throw at the next red traffic light, I found the game highly unstructured and cluttered with menus and tutorial screens that took 2-3 times longer to get through than the actual event. I will give the designers credit Ė they really manage to fool you with their take on the events. Those expecting a button-mashing Track & Field experience might be let down when they realize the only thing you have to do on a Marathon is tap the A button once to grab a water bottle off a table, or perhaps if you are swimming youíll only need to blow into the microphone every time your characterís head comes out of the water. Itís like they took the most mundane parts of an event and turned that into the game.
There are still a few cool events and even cooler ways to play them. I enjoyed the sailing that has you blowing into the mic to propel your boat, even if I did start to hyperventilate. I loved the basketball where you hold your fully extended 3DS vertically to see the entire basket from floor to hoop then flick the 3DS to shoot, and the shooting and archery were two of my favorite events. The games will keep you on your toes mixing up motion-sensing, stylus, microphone, buttons, D-pad, and the circle pad. Some controls work better than others, which means some games play better than others. No matter how fast I swirled by circle pad I could never win the kayak race, and frankly, Iím not too comfortable putting that much stress on the stick. Itís not like I can replace the controller on the 3DS when it breaks.
Perhaps the most insipid and worthless component to this title is the Story mode, which I encourage all gamers to avoid like the plague. You play as the full cast of characters who must do battle with Dr. Eggman and Bowser who are angry because they werenít invited to the 2012 Olympics, so they unleash some Phantasmal Fog stolen from an urn under Stonehenge and use it to create evil-fog versions of our heroes who then square off in dozens of encounters all across London. After 10+ minutes of rapid-tapping through trite dialogue you get to challenge your foggy foes to one or more Olympic events. If you win, you smash the fog machine in that area and London skies are clear again. If you lose you do it all over. About halfway through the ďstoryĒ I stopped caring and just hit Start to play the even and move on to the next box in the flowchart. The story flowchart gives the illusion of multiple paths through the story until you realize you canít proceed until you return to the fork and play the other path as well. Sometimes you get to choose the event from a pre-determined selection but often you are forced into a single (or series) of games. Usually there was at least one option I enjoyed but often I would have to endure really lame games just to progress the story. Thankfully, if you fail an event more than three times it offers to clear the chapter for you. And just when you think the nightmare is over and the credits have rolled there is a whole new Bonus series of missions....NOOOOOOO!
The technical aspects of the game are quite nice. The 3D works extremely well, both in the games and the cutscenes which, despite being idiotic, are quite gorgeous. There is great detail and fantastic colors, but I think I need a translation guide for all those crazy emoticons. The sound effects are good with a few flashy effects and there is some great music that ranges from Olympic fanfare to the more sublime violins you might hear at a London tea party at the Palace.
Any fun to be had with the game will be outside the Story where you can compete with up to three other people in local and download play. The game tracks event records and maintains a global leaderboard so you can actually go for a real World Record if you want.
Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games isnít a horrible game, but there is enough questionable content that I cannot recommend a full-price purchase unless you really like a weird take on popular Olympic events. My biggest concern is that the story is targeted toward an age group that probably canít read, and those same kids probably donít even know what the Olympics even are. And if you are old enough then you probably should be playing something else.