Mario & Sonic at the 2012 London Olympics Review (Wii)
It’s been a while since we’ve covered a Wii game; it seems the platform has truly become the lame duck we expected after the announcement of the Wii U. However, there occasionally comes a sports game that is truly unique to the platform, and therefore, deserves at least a passing look.
One of these, and perhaps my favorite, was Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games. This title featured some decent mini-games, as well as an impressive Festival Mode which reproduced the entire Olympiad.
Released last winter was the sequel, Mario and Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games. Does this game hold up to its predecessor, and does it capture that certain Olympic “magic?”
Like its two predecessors, Mario and Sonic: London is full of mini-games that attempt to mimic the actual sports featured in the Olympiad. Individual events, team sports, and over-the-top “Dream Events” round out a list of approximate fifty games. As diverse as they seem to be, most break down to simple timing games, just covered in an Olympic “wrapper.”
Take the Rhythmic Ribbon event: It’s simply a watered down Rock Band or Tap Tap game, using your Wiimote instead of a finger or plastic guitar. It is not terrible, but it isn’t terribly innovative either. Worse, it seems like a retread of the Winter Games’ figure skating event.
The same can be said for many of the events: they seem like things you’ve played before. Badminton is actually a step back from Wii Sports Tennis. Soccer is super-boring. Shooting events are as expected: aim crosshairs, pull trigger. I can’t say that any of them are horrendous or broken, there just aren’t any standouts either.
Even so, all of these average mini-games would be ok if they were contextualized by an interesting career or festival mode. I was extremely disappointed to learn that the equivalent mode in Mario and Sonic: London is “London Party,” a Mario Party-lite that’s as crazy as it is frustrating.
Instead of a game board, you just run around the streets of London (using an overhead map), collecting items and looking for characters to talk to. Hit the right character, and a mini-game or event begins. Instead of coins or stars, you are collecting stamps to fill a virtual passport.
As little strategy as there is in Mario Party, there’s less here in this free-for-all. And the randomness of these types of games undermines any skill you might have in the mini games. In one game, I was one stamp away from winning the game. An AI character somehow conveniently collected an item that allowed him to switch passports with another player.
Overall, the London Party does very little to enhance the mediocre quality of the individual events.
I have to give credit to the producers of this game for truly blowing out the Olympic/Nintendo theme. From referencing the official iconography to recreating London’s famous landmarks, there’s nothing bland about its presentation. Even the unlockable items include gear for your Mii and famous Nintendo theme music. And having such a large stable of memorable characters helps too.
If you’ve owned or played a previous version of this series. I can’t see any reason to pick up this title, even as it approaches discount prices (it originally released in November). In fact, I’d encourage you to search for the Winter version, with its much better career mode.
On the other hand, if you are having an Olympic Party (do people do that?), then this game might be good to throw in after the Opening Ceremonies. The mini-games are infinitely better with multiple human players, and the London Party mode, while not very compelling, is at home in the casual, party setting.
Learning Curve: Seemingly designed for party play, nothing is too difficult to learn on the fly. Textual tutorials help a lot; Nintendo sure does know how to design a menu.
Control Scheme: Expect a lot of flicking, twisting, and mashing. There is a lot of annoying need to plug/unplug the Nunchuk controller. No Wii-Motion Plus support, which has sort of become the new Power Glove.
Visuals: Standard Wii-fare, with well designed interfaces and tremendous Olympic theming.
Audio: Nice use of existing and well-known musical themes.
Events: Very mediocre with little to truly praise.
Multiplayer: The only reason to buy this game.
Score: 3.5 (Bad)