Electronic Theatre In-depth Review: Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games

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Electronic Theatre ImageFor many years in the 1990’s gamers the world over cried out for a videogame featuring their two favourite mascots, Mario and Sonic. It wouldn’t be til nearly twenty years later that SEGA and Nintendo would reveal that all-important hand shake had taken place, and even then the resulting product was something that very few has expected. However, once the announcement had been made it was easy to predict that Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games would be a huge success, enough to ensure that it was more than just a one-off.

The third iteration in the series launched on its premier format late last year, and was praised for the extensive variety of events included. Here on Nintendo 3DS, Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games welcomes the same complementary analysis, and kicks things off very quickly in that regard. After inputting a name andElectronic Theatre Image selecting your national flag (or the flag of any competing country you choose) the videogame throws you straight into a series of warm-up events. Effectively a training mode, the player is introduced to the alternating between button and touchscreen control dependant on the specific event. Three events are offered during this warm-up phase, and success is not required to continue.

Once the warm-up is completed the player s presented with a menu offering Single Player, Multiplayer and Story Mode gameplay options. The Single Player gameplay mode offers the player the opportunity to play a single round of any event or a series of events predetermined by design. Players are also given the option to create their own series of events, dubbed as a ‘medley’. The core gameplay mode however, is the Story Mode.

An interesting device for extending the life of Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games, the Story Mode offers multiple perspectives on events from each the Mario and Sonic point of views. Players can follow each path in any fashion they choose until climatic events when the two groups meet, and then again after. Of course, the story itself is intended to be taken in a very light-hearted fashion, forcibly ramming the Super Mario and Sonic the Hedgehog universes together with no consideration for previously of potential successive canon, and simply placing the pair in London as if it’s a natural occurrence for each mascot.

Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games offers more than fifty events, some of which are more successfully adapted to the mechanics of videogame competition than others. For example, the 100m is cut into two parts, the starting blocks and the sprint to cross the finish line – an interesting adaptation but one which feels like a poor design decision for a very basic event – Electronic Theatre Imagewhereas the Taekwondo is delivered as a lightweight but very tactical beat-‘em-up. The 100m Freestyle swimming is a traditional button bashing event, while the BMX challenge is an on-rails dash where the player is more concerned with perfect jumps and landings rather than tricks or positioning. Each event reiterates its control scheme prior to beginning, which is a welcome design decision given the sheer variety of set-ups present. Players will undoubtedly find their favourite events, but given the sheer quantity of events that decision may not be made as quickly as you might imagine.

Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games provides multiplayer gameplay for up to four players, either as a multi-card set-up or via the now underused Nintendo 3DS Download Play. The options for multiplayer matches are the same in each mode, with the full line-up available as either one-off events or short successions, though there are some limitations on the team-based events.

From a technical standpoint, Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games is a reasonable product. The visual quality is reasonable, if not astounding, and the soundtrack is surprisingly well presented. What’s more, Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games is packed with content – not just in the quantity of events, but also in the number of different medals, stickers, badges and customised medleys that can be shared – and it does present a considerably encouraging attitude towards unlocking these items.

While many would argue that Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games is just another mini-game compilation, to do so is to miss the point. Since inception, all videogames based on Olympic events have been delivered as such, and while Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games is no Track & Field, it’s not meant to be. It’s a videogame designed to be encouraging to everyone – from newcomers to gamers trained by decades of experience – and in that design it’s wholly successful. As the third iteration in the Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games series Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games may not have the same impact as its predecessors, but it remains an enticing stage for the two classic videogame heroes to compete together and against one another.

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