Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games
You would think Sonic and Mario teaming up would lead to harmonious video game bliss. Mario could help Sonic be a better game, Sonic could help Mario be a cooler mascot, and they could commiserate about all their friends who are riding their coattails to fame. Instead, we get minigames with an Olympic theme.
This game wouldn’t be so bad if the controls worked better. The Wii has never been completely responsive, especially when it comes to these mingame compilations, but I was having more trouble than ever with London Games. Trying to perform tricks while jumping on a trampoline devolved into me wildly gesticulating in hopes of gaining some points, and badminton, despite being a game more reliant on timing, saw me waving my arms like I was trying to get my TV’s attention every time the shuttlecock got close to my character.
There are a few games that stood out though, specifically the ones reliant on rhythm, like synchronized swimming and rhythmic ribbon. Those require infrequent jostles of the Wii remote in time with music, and those games work well.
Along with the standard Olympic games, there are also Dream Events, which are similar to the normal events, but are set in the abstract worlds of Sonic and Mario. The dream long-jump event provided another highlight, as it basically felt like a traditional side-scrolling Mario game where players compete to see who can make it the longest without falling in a pit.
London Party is a mode included in the game that functions similarly to Mario Party. It lends structure to the minigames, allowing up to four players to compete for more than just quick, one-off events. There is no board or dice rolling. Players walk around a London-themed map trying to collect stickers and talk to NPCs, and the Olympic events get interspersed throughout. There are also minigames more familiar to Mario Party players that aren’t themed specifically to the Olympics.
London Party is full of randomized powerful slaps to the face that will change the course of the game. To win, you must fill up a grid with collected stickers. I had the most stickers, far more than anybody else, and the game just decided that I should probably switch with the player with the least stickers for no reason. What is the point of even competing if it can all be taken away from you on a whim? It’s annoying and unfair, and I threw a fit, yelling at the screen.
As a party game, London Games succeeds rarely, but its implementation of recognizable (and unrecognizable) characters from Mario and Sonic is perfect. It definitely has all of your favorite characters in it, but that’s not enough of a reason to play. There are some cool elements like Xbox 360-style achievements, plus challenges, unlockable classic Mario and Sonic music tracks, and costumes for your Mii that can be used during play. If you’re into London Party, then there are some worthy reasons to keep coming back, but I doubt many will retain their interest beyond the character select screen.