Mario and Sonic’s past Olympic collaborations have been nothing more than a bunch of mini-games featuring two of the industry’s best known faces and stamped with an official licence. Big deal. We all expected as much. However, with so many similar titles on Nintendo’s consoles already, are the familiar faces and Olympic licence enough to ensure success once more? To be fair, you don’t need to read this review to find the answer to that question. Mario? Sonic? London 2012 Olympics?! Buy two copies in case one of ‘em breaks, mum!
Despite my personal feelings surrounding Sonic being held in a Nintendo-owned hostage warehouse, (somewhere between Zelda Williams and Ronan Keating), I’ve effectively freed myself of a fierce bitterness brewed in the early nineties. That’s all behind me now, and if Sonic wants to play silly Olympic Games with the plumber he would’ve paid to strangle in 1993, then that’s cool. If it flies with the blue guy, it flies with me. Commence review.
The main addition for the 2012 iteration is undoubtedly the story mode, and while it may be a bunch of Olympic events broken up with cut-scenes, it’s still a hell of a good time witnessing characters from both universes interacting with each other. If you thought Bowser was an asshole on his own, then you’ll be shocked to learn that he teams up with Dr Eggman to unleash a sprawling fog in London. Apparently, both heinous villains weren’t invited (awww), and they’ve decided to sabotage the games instead. It’s definitely worth playing right through for the pretty looking, but often cheesy, cut-scenes, and it adds a bit more length to the package. So, you should definitely check out the Story Mode, but it’s the Olympic events that make up the bread and butter of the experience. Having said that, you could be forgiven for expecting a ludicrously fun and polished time ahead. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Not entirely, at least.
While there’s no shortage of events (57 to be precise), Sega have apparently opted for quantity over quality. Don’t get me wrong, the events (which are basically mini-games) are fun, but they’re over and done with much too quickly. They fly by so fast that the whole experience eventually lumps into one monotonous blob despite the wide variety of events on offer. At one moment, you’re battering A to sprint as fast as you can in the 100m Dash, while the next moment has you inputting button combos to floor Luigi in a round of Judo.
Another gripe I had with the games, was the level of interaction. Matching commands by pressing buttons or touching the screen is all well and good, but a bit more creativity would’ve been nice to make it seem a little more convincing all round. Fair enough, tapping the screen to the left and right of Mario’s arms to simulate swimming wasn’t half bad. But yelling at your 3DS to lift weights? That’s just downright daft. When you have a medium as promising as the Olympics, you’d think Sega would’ve put the effort in to at least prompt the player to perform actions that actually reflected the sport in some way other than matching the commands to grab a bottle of water during a Marathon. Also, be sure to read the instructions very carefully before each mini-game, as a false start is as good as coming in last place when a lot of events last less than 10 seconds.
To pick-up and play, Mario and Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games (phew) will probably avoid a lot of criticism considering it probably shouldn’t be played for more than ten minutes at a time. If you stick to a mini-game or two between classes at college or at the bus stop or something, you may find it quite enjoyable. On the other hand, if you’re looking for something top quality to kill the odd hour here and there, you may be bitterly disappointed. It’s fun in small doses, but I’d rather have 25 feature-heavy events in my hands as opposed to fifty bite sized chunks that fail to fill even the smallest hole in anyone’s tooth.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Nintendo 3DS code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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