|Pub: Sega, Nintendo|
|Screen Resolution: 480p|
by Angelo M. D’Argenio
I am astounded that Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games has lasted as long as it has. Normally, Olympic-themed video games are horrible flops that go nowhere, but the fusion of these two iconic videogame mascots has somehow made this modest minigame collection succeed. You know, I'm OK with that. Sonic needs the work.
E3 showed us the latest in the Mario & Sonic line with Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games. It's safe to say that Sega and Nintendo are comfortable with giving us more of the same. They aren't really jumping off an innovation cliff here. Instead, all they're doing is throwing us a few new mini-games and hoping that we don't notice—or that we don't really care. All we need now is a way to import old mini-games into new copies and Mario & Sonic might be the next cartoon athletic Rockband.
The game is obviously a way to cash in on the upcoming London Olympic games next year, but that's fine as long as the game is fun enough. And the new minigames are quite a blast to play. Canoeing, for example, is basically a motion controlled rhythm game that asks you to stroke in time with your partner. While it doesn't hold a candle to, say, Rhythm Heaven, it's fun enough and provides a decent workout for us gamers who spend most of our time in a chair playing World of Warcraft.
Then there's Badminton, which is pretty much just another re-skin of Wii Tennis. Although this may make some gamers complain, let's face it, Wii Tennis is fun. If anything, the game differs slightly in that it is faster-paced than Wii Tennis. The momentum of a badminton birdie is strange, shooting off after a hit and slowing down as it approaches the other player. As such, the game actually centers on wild smash shots, which are always the most fun anyway.
The dream events were actually the most enjoyable parts of the demo. Dream Long Jump has you hopping along clouds along with four other players trying to be the last one to fall. Clouds operate like trampolines, and repeatedly bouncing between the two is the object of the game. You can smash into opponents to try to make them fall, or jump into storm clouds in an attempt to disrupt their progress with lightning. It's a hilarious griefing engine, and meaner gamers will get a kick out of harassing their friends mid-jump long after the rest of the game has lost its allure.
Dream Discus may be the strangest event in the entire game. Like normal discus, characters wind up and throw a heavy plate as hard as they can. However, they hop onto the thrown discus and engage in a flying/racing experience where the goal is to collect more rings than the opponent. You can bump your opponent out of the way and crowd the screen to get the most rings, but honestly, what does this have to do with discus? This actually feels like something out of Mario Party. Sure, it's fun, but discus is a bit of a misnomer. In fact, the starting throw really doesn't even matter.
Sadly, no new characters join the mix. Silver, Metal Sonic, Bowser Jr., and DK come back from the Olympic Winter games, but that's it. Frankly, if there's an easy way to make Mario and Sonic fans happy, it's by adding new characters. This just seems like a massive oversight.
I can't complain that much about Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games. Sure, the name may be annoyingly long, but that's literally the most annoying part of the whole experience. It's a competently put-together collection of minigames, and there isn't much more to say about it than that. Sure, you can be a hater and complain about the game being a casual gamer love-fest, but honestly, if you feel that way you might as well stick with Skyward Sword. The rest of us will be having too much fun rowing a canoe with Amy Rose.
Angelo M. D’Argenio
CCC Contributing Writer