Partnering Mario and Sonic proved to be an unbeatable pairing for SEGA. The debut entry in the series, Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games, was released back in 2008 alongside and became was the first official crossover title that starred both Nintendo and SEGA’s iconic creations.
It proved a runaway success, especially with the Wii crowd which saw sales in excess of seven million copies and its Nintendo DS counterpart also raking in over four million copies. As can be expected, such success resulted in a sequel of sorts in the form of Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games which coincided with Vancouver 2010. Now, in the wake of the 2012 London Olympic Games, SEGA are once again gunning for gold.
You’re once again able to select between twenty characters that encompass favourites such as Knuckles, Donkey Kong, Tails, Yoshi and Waluigi, each divided into four differing abilities – Power, All-Around, Speed and Skill. You’ll have to choose the best suited to whichever event you opt to participate within, of which there are thirty-one in the game categorised under Olympic and Dream Events.
Single Match mode remains the core of the experience, allowing you to hop directly into Olympic Events or Dream Events of your choosing. Those seen within past titles return, Football, Badminton and Equestrian being examples of those newly added for this latest sports outing. Controls are responsive, remaining largely waggle-free and, as always, simple to grasp for most players.
It is within the Dream Events, however, that Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games excels. These see traditional Olympic events merge with Nintendo and SEGA’s most recognisable titles, resulting in a spectacular selection that could easily be further expanded into a game of their own.
Dream Long Jump seeing players bouncing along increasingly sparse clouds that echoes the visuals of Kirby’s Epic Yarn, for example, or Dream Sprint placing you into coloured spheres as seen within Super Monkey Ball to then race at blistering speed down a spiralling track. Super Mario Galaxy is also used, as players perform various flight formations in space so that they may defeat a Dino Pirahna. These easily become the most enjoyable events of Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games – colourful, visually diverse and incredibly fun to play.
The game also features a separate London Party mode, four players finding themselves roaming the streets of the capital as they compete to fill Sticker Albums – the first to do so winning the game. To do so you’ll have to succeed within scheduled Olympic events or mini-games, such as quizzes or being tasked with knocking each other out with Green Shells, to net yourself stickers that may be added to your album. Players are able to choose between varying sizes of Sticker Albums depending on how long they want their session to last. It’s a welcome addition, yet most will prefer the ease and control of choosing whichever events you’d like to play within Single Match mode.
Successfully competing within any of the game’s extensive array of events and modes showers the player with Scratch Cards as your reward. Players scratch panels from these, with the aim to gain a pair of matching icons that’ll result in unlocking bonus content within the game.
Such content either takes the form of music plucked from the history of the Mario and Sonic series, which may be listened to through a Jukebox or in-game having assigned tracks to events specified by the player, or items of clothing that may be used to dress your Mii. There’s an extensive quantity available too, including humorous character suits akin to costumes seen within the likes of Media Molecule’s LittleBigPlanet.
In addition, SEGA has seen fit to introduce a number of Challenges to help objectify your play time. These include playing as your Mii or finishing London Party mode five times for example and amount to an achievement system that ensures that those wishing to get the most out of Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games will do so. An in-game Mail system also provides hints and tips as to how best to succeed within events.
Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games proves to be an engaging multiplayer experience, although a less stimulating one on your own. With fun at its core, this is certainly a game that those who regularly play in groups won’t want to miss, and one that is sure to sell well as the Olympics approach.